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Certainly good ... but also with some flaws. - 65%

oneyoudontknow, September 14th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2014, Digital, Independent (Bandcamp)

Makrokosmos is a somewhat strange title for a release, because of the overall implications it entails. Have all prior outputs been about the antonym, then? Is this something about all that had been left out before and which has been granted the space and time to be discussed now -- finally, as some might utter with a last hollow gasp? Alas, the macrocosm, sorry Makrokosmos. Why German?

We are located in the grander scheme with this output, then -- a dot or a question mark, well decide for yourself. Anyway, as outlined earlier, the music has seen a slight shift in the direction and variation with this output and maybe that is why these do not come over as entirely convincing. Petrychor's music has always been rather wide and open. It needed space to fully unwrap its sound and complexity. While this has remained as it is, all received an additional shift with this recording. The second track "Ceaseless White" as well as "Planets Born of Human Ash" present some additional features to the music, which, due to their sound and style, add a kind of playfulness to the music. Cheerful guitar play on the one hand and easy-going ambient tunes on the other, could be found in either of these. Together they set counterpoints to the general flow as well as intensity of the black metal, from which Petrychor have not diverted or stepped away. The microcosm spills over into the incomprehensible vastness of the grander scheme, the fuzziness of the small still can be identified in the sound and style of it all.

Yet to merely point to this release a continuation of all that had been established before, but somehow enriched by certain ideas or facets would be deeply misleading. Petrychor is extreme to a certain extent. Their music breathes an intensity and energy that they tend to celebrate somehow in one way or another on their early outputs. Be it "Dryad" or be it "Effigies and Epitaphs", each of these had this distinct type of sound or ideas in the music. It marks an underlying current in the overall conception of the band. On this release a deviation from this can be examined, though. Contrary to what had been established before, here it is not so much the black metal that it beating all down the way, but rather some gentle tunes or playful motives that would help to lead all along the paths. It, the music, is still extreme and it is still intense, but it is presented on a different level. The dark and sinister current is still there, it still flows and it breaks through at times; as would be the case at the end of "Planets Born of Human Ash". Should the listener have imagined that those "stark" facets are something of days gone by, then this very part should be a reminder of the contrary. The band means it, they mean it in every of the compositions and over the entire length of the album. Always.

And there is nothing wrong with their intention. Indeed, with this output, which follows the "Effigies and Epitaphs" release, the band presents their peculiar set of sounds and styles, but here interpreted rather differently, slightly off, slightly on, slightly this and slightly that. Clean vocals? You might not have seen that one coming. The opener lacks the power and energy in the black metal, which shines again on other occasions. Also the rhythmic patterns vary throughout this release and they set a clear counterpoint to those well crafted powerful blasts that this band generally throws towards the listener. Indeed, it just shows how many facets can easily be merged together in this extreme form of music. It is not necessary to limit the conceptual boundaries to a small set of facets to be extreme. To throw the listener through wild storms of contrasting approaches can have its merits, as be felt throughout this release; but only occasionally, as it is not convincing on all levels. It lacks ... yes, it lacks ... something. Somehow the deviation from the established rule appears not balanced in such a way as to be thoroughly convincing. A bit too much of repetition here, a slight too much of limitation there, and these rather tiny flaws appear combined as too much of an aspect to neglect. Whether these could have an impact on how someone perceives this release will definitely depend on personal preferences.

Makrokosmos, when taking literally for a moment, would be a realization that the music needs to be more than just the intensity the band has presented before and appears to be familiar with. Those smaller schemes from prior releases were put into a proper perspective and a proper framework. And even though it is hardly convincing from a larger perspective, the last track on the album is hardly conclusive and wanders off into a rather dull and somehow odd direction, other parts of the album shine due their lack of limitation on various levels. Those elements that had a somewhat negative impact on the previous albums, do no longer appear on such a scale and the band appears to have found a way to deal with the limitation of their music and ameliorate certain negative outcomes. Occasionally the music drags on a bit too much, the conceptual separation is still wanting and feels a bit artificial at times. Nevertheless, Makrokosmos comes over a step in the right direction and as an interesting evolution in the sound and style of this band; matters would become even more clearer with the succeeding "Apocalyptic Witchcraft" album.