Saturday, 1 August 2020

Purification – Perfect Doctrine (2020) / 92%

You can’t fuck with Forces of doom

Purification, that mysterious Oregon entity is back with their second full length in 2 years and I predict tons of carnage between them and The Wizar’d for doom metal album of the year. The Tasmanian’s nasal odes to Pagan Altar on one side of the battlefield ready to unleash an army of emus against the Portland Witchfinder Generals lookalikes could be a sight to behold. Those comparisons between the two bands aren’t just for show, they’re both apt at taking sounds of the past and processing it into a palatable yet contemporary formula. They’re also both incredible.

While deeply rooted in this sort mournful historical romanticism, their funereal approach can of course be linked to today’s morose happenings. "God is dead. America is fallen. Give up hope and move into the mountains." is something they wrote on their Bandcamp page and it’s telling. It’s easy to link past historical events to the current “plague” hitting the world. Through their sometimes edgy but precious lyrics, they’re observing reality within the confines of doom and they do it well. One of the most effective lines is in fact the opening lyrics of the album:

The whole world is a warzone and your life is getting grim...

It’s a wonderful, ominous start to the lineup and has those tight guitar leads reminding me of Uncle Acid’s Blood Acid album, ultimately one of the most influential doom records of the decade. There’s a definitive improvement in terms of both production values and overall musical proficiency compared to their debut Destruction of the Wicked, a good but uneven record. Purification's progression has been interesting, they have a career that could be similarly compared to Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. Two of their three members were in Thrown, a much rawer (and somewhat sillier) version of what we have here, they even had speed, thrash and heavy metal influences. Perfect Doctrine still has an acceptable amount of filth in its sound, just enough to make it shine through the detritus that is life. I guess they’ll have to split up and come back a few decades later at some point as well.

Their guitars are bright with just the right amount of haziness and power, their leads are not complex but damn they’re savoury and melodic. There’s a lot of short moments where they let slow psychedelia take over and I thought the guitars did a monumental job there. I don’t think it’s “tight” musicianship and I really don’t care whatsoever, it’s emotional and their aim has been thoroughly accomplished. The bass is as loud as I was expecting from ‘em, it just fills the whole damn church with vibrations while the drumming coming from the crypt is heard by the whole village. The vocals are sometimes too buried underneath a few coffins for my taste but it adds a cavernous feel to their doom metal and it’s not unwelcome. They could be a bit more powerful but that’s a mild complaint and I was just looking for weaker spots at this point.

The band is transparent about their influences (fine with me) and they namedrop Saint Vitus (of course) and you can certainly notice their influence. It’s thundering, undisciplined doom that’s never been opposed to collaborating with hardcore and punk. Their tight but rich songwriting is something also found on albums like Mournful Cries or Born Too Late. Vitus were never really messing around with longer tracks. They also namedrop Reverend Bizarre (I don’t need much else than them in life) and that’s certainly two of their biggest mentors. Purification are obviously fans of the tongue in cheek/Finnish humour aspect of the dissolved trio. They delve into the same (anti)religious themes and have similar references and aesthetics and yes, if you like the Reverend, you’ll probably end up liking those Americans. It needed to be said. It has been said. The groovy bass, the charismatic semi operatic vocals, the loose guitars... All the elements were there to convince me to send them $6.66 for that record. With that said, they’ll hopefully find a label to release it physically, it needs to be done or help me Satan.

You can’t fuck with Forces of doom
We have come to Destroy the empty tomb
Fuck your silent god
And fuck your wicked faith
We are Witness to the end
Of your failed master race

The band succeeds at giving us this apocalyptic despair with tracks like “On The Wings Of Pestilence, Darkness Takes Flight” or the hag bog/medieval atmosphere of “Lunar Hymn 999” ending the record, there’s nuggets of hidden potent atmospheric potential. Reminiscent in spirit to the seminal oeuvres of both Cathedral (for their flippant approach) and Paradise Lost (for their hard hittin’ Goth side), Purification aren’t a one trick pony. A track like “Sabbatharian Blood Feud” reminds me of both The Carnival Bizarre and the Icon/Draconian Times era by mixing wonderful stoner but not quite stoner riffs with evocative warlock-esque vocals.

They’re deceptive wizards shrouded in aura of DIY mystery but their doom chops are without question. Their doctrine has been executed to perfection. Purification are here to remind us that the world was always a fucking fetid void, thanks guys.

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