A work of breathtaking creative breadth, “To Paint a Bird of Fire” keeps with Perihelion Ship’s tradition by transcending the limits of death/black metal and repeatedly shattering the foundations of conventional songwriting, to boot. Rarely does a band manage to break new ground without losing touch with its roots, but these Finns do exactly that with their sophomore release.
But the biggest difference between “To Paint a Bird of Fire” and the group’s debut “A Rare Thunderstorm in Spring” (2016) lies in the remarkably high songwriting standards achieved by main man Andreas Hammer.
“To Paint a Bird of Fire” is divided not so much into songs as “movements.” Tracks start and finish in seemingly arbitrary fashion, usually traversing ample musical terrain, including acoustic guitar and solo piano passages, ambient soundscapes, stoner rock grooves, and Hammond-filled melodies — any of which are subject to savage punctuations of death metal fury at any given moment. Likewise, Hammer’s vocals run the gamut from bowel-churning grunts to melodies of chilling beauty — depending on each movement section’s mood. With all this in mind, singling out specific highlights is pretty much a futile exercise; but for the benefit of first-time listeners, why not start out with the colossal opener “New Sun,” the Mellotron-driven “The Sad Mountain,” the surprisingly gentle acoustic instrumental of “River’s Three,” and, finally, the all-encompassing closing “New Sun?”
Then, with patience (Perihelion Ship’s music is everything but immediate), the rest of the album’s grand scheme will be revealed. “To Paint a Bird of Fire” is surely the band’s coming-of-age album, and therefore, an ideal introduction to their work. This is a band to keep under your radar.