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Saint Peter's Thursday - Album Review: Death Salt

14 Jun 2023 // A review by Tom Langdale-Hunt

We’re immediately thrusted into Cosmic Kaleidescope; an extremely punchy tune armed with belting, gravelly vocals and searing distortion. I’m immediately drawn into the Radio Moscow-like ferocity in the way this alternative rock sound is laid down. Anthemic guitars coated in chunky overdrive, confident and gutsy drum sections and envelope filter bass make a strong introduction to the effort from Saint Peter's Thursday. The opening track alone serves to show what each member of the band is capable of individually as well as a unit. They know when to roll back parts, make the most of a crescendo, stifle a section, break down, make us want more, then deliver and shine.

Hailing from Christchurch, Saint Peter’s Thursday formed through the trio’s love of grunge, metal, rock, and pop music, and developed their sound together within the opportunities that their tertiary institute afforded. Since then, they have kept their presence as a bewildering live act in the local music scene with regular tours and single releases. The album offers a strong compilation to reflect their abilities and expectation for what is to come in terms of a tight live band with an ongoing, solid discography.

The transition into Fisherman keeps the album's momentum with a more reserved, but equally fierce groove and performance. It is apparent that Anand, Aaron, and Sam are very proficient in their playing and have no trouble locking in with each other, both performatively and creatively. I’m once again particularly attentive to Aaron’s impressive fingerstyle groove and runs on the bass. It’s extremely satisfying in its clean and freshly strung tone, filling the sonic space beneath Anand's crunchy guitar.

A ripply, harmonic bass dowses us in an atmosphere of reverb to set the scene for Good Morning Sunshine. With bluesy palm mutes, licks, and rimshots, this number leans into a laid back groove which provides us with a sort of breather from the punchy and immediate intros that we have experienced so far. This allows us to focus more on the lyrics, which are very visual and provide an almost solemn soundscape. A walk of shame in the morning. A denial of a predetermined impression that the subject wishes to amend. “I’ll change your mind, don’t be scared, I’ll meet you there” the words croon and sustain amongst warm fuzzed guitar lines and horns, the latter of which cements the song as an atypical outlier on the compilation.

The lo-fi intro of Pterodactyl contrasts the rather clean production that presents the rest of the album. This too is suitably placed within the track list. Awash in reverb and deep vocals, I’m reminded of the likes of King Krule and his unique style of alternative jazz and darkwave. This lo-fi production is shortly switched out and we return to form in upbeat style. This track, while a more tame performance, does actually showcase Anand's vocals in a more tender setting, really allowing us to discern his deep timbre and diction.

The middle section of this effort serves to further bring down the fierceness of the album after a captivating and punchy opening handful of tracks. Caroline blends sultry lyrics and grooves with the ferocity and overdrive of its predecessors. The song makes use of quiet space to really push the intensity of the crescendos. I find myself drifting back to the crisp bass-work that becomes coated in fuzz for the highs of the song.

Saint Peter’s Thursday spent the last two years dropping these tracks as singles, keeping a warm buzz going within the music scene, touring to accompany. The most recent release was Reptiles which shakes up the sound of the album once more. Starting with a rolling bass line and beat, the song pulls us from one extreme to the next, again making use of cuts, stabs, and great variations of tones and harmonic guitar. The track chugs along with great intensity, introducing something new to each section or motif to keep us locked in on its trajectory. Meaty vocals from the whole group are utilized well, fleshing out the huge sound of the track. A jangly bridge takes us to a ground zero breakdown, from where there is no way but up, and the band obliges to ascend in an angry, octave-filled half-time, of which it is hard not to imagine the brutality of the mosh-pit that the group deserves in a live setting.

Lady of the Night is the captivating and chaotic penultimate tune. I have no idea how the outrageous intro feedback from the guitars were achieved if they aren’t in their own separate track, speaking to the sonic exploration that the band highlight in their biographies. They demonstrate again their abilities to lock in and compliment one another's parts. If there was a track that turns this effort up to eleven, it’s this one. Screaming and distorted vocals on top of these tight, impressive lines and cadenzas (mixed with some excellent production) make this track sound so large and full that you forget the band only consists of three members. They wisely keep the guitar solos few and far between on this album, which makes the one that appears near the end of Lady of the Night even more welcome and impressive. It’s a display of classic rock n roll and serves as a final punch in the vehemence of the track.

The band's love of grunge is at its most prevalent through on the sludgy Beauty Therapy. Another excellent bass line builds anticipation for the heaviest tones we’ve heard so far. A droning, desert rock sound, like something straight out of Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger, descends upon us and Anand aptly asks to “follow me through the desert”. The closing song is riddled with effects, and the trio make the most of the unhurried tempo, really leaning into the sheer weight of the track. It moves like a pendulum, allowing each member to showcase their combined abilities in a curtain call of blistering tones. Sam’s powerful drumming marches the piece on. He commands the highs and lows from rolling toms to a flurry of cymbals, not leaving an ounce of energy out of the effort. Anand and Aaron follow suit in their displays of throat-ripping sustained vocals and hulking bass. Tasteful and melodic guitar solos, scattered screams, intense wailing feedback; the album concludes in a chaotic dying gargle of their instruments.

Alone, these songs stand firm as significant works from a high-powered live act, but the discography combined takes on a life of its own. Each track has been scrupulously placed so that our attention doesn’t get much of an opportunity to waver, and the recordings flow as if they were never recorded so sparsely apart in the first place. If I were to offer one critique; it would be set on the length of the individual tracks. Overall, the albums eight tracks clock in at just under 40 minutes, averaging a song length of about 4 - 5 minutes. While there is plenty going on within the pieces, it might be better suited for more patient listeners and may provide barriers to accessibility, a solution of which could be saving extended breakdowns and instrumentals for a live setting. Similarly, there will be die-hard rock fans who may not consider this an issue at all, with popular classics from Temple of the Dog or Smashing Pumpkins clocking in at far lengthier runtimes.

It’s no question that Saint Peter’s Thursday is a formidable act, one which I certainly will not miss when in my neck of the woods. This execution of high-octane classic grunge is exactly what I believe the Aotearoa music scene requires to stifle any voice that ever said that rock was dead.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About Saint Peter's Thursday

Formed in 2014, Saint Peter’s Thursday has an almost cult following throughout the city. Meeting through the Music Arts program at ARA, Anand Yoganathan (Vocals/Guitar), Aaron Wildermoth (Vocals/Bass) and Sam Lane (Drums & Percussion) create a unique sound through their similar tastes in grunge, metal, rock and pop music. While studying in a tertiary environment, the trio found ways to express themselves through their music. Oftentimes the band finds themselves with the lights out in the rehearsal room, exploring new sonic lands and extracting new ideas from these journeys.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Saint Peter's Thursday


Death Salt
Year: 2023
Type: Album

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