Purification’s destruction of the wicked is a flawed album. The door to the phone booth this album was recorded in was quite obviously left ajar, the vocal style can be off-putting for those less traveled along to annals of doom, and the lack of guitar leads will for many be too large a point of contention. Not to mention the Side B of this album descends into punk and gothic influenced experiments that is more hit and miss.
So why am I even bothering to revisit this 2019 release? Well that’s because despite my introduction this release is also incredible. To me traditional doom metal has always been a genre of imperfection – it is in this imperfection and passion where thunderous doom riffs, enveloping atmosphere, and passionate yet often flawed vocals coalesce to some of the best metal out there. With their full-length debut, Purification is perfectly emblematic of this quality. An unyielding staunchness against evolution and the progress of music. A firm affirmation of undying support for the atmosphere filled doom-filled sermons brought to us by the likes of Witchfinder General, Pagan Altar, and Reverend Bizarre.
Destruction of the Wicked brings a record drenched in the occult where old school evil heavy doom meets synth reverb with a psychedelic flair. This is owed in part to the vocal work at display here. Quite reminiscent and (perhaps even intentionally so) of the echo filled sermons of a church hall, the vocals are both soaring and powerful. While they might be an acquired taste to some they suit the band’s sound very well utilizing multiple layers of harmonized vocals both of the clean soaring variety and the lower range more somber tone. In their heavy metal infused evil doom atmosphere Purification are very similar to fellow doom oddities The Wizar’d.
The production is raw, filthy, and quite unrefined at times with a noticeable edge to the sound. This is only matched by the bass guitar tone, which is truly a delight. Massive, vicious, and dense as hell – the sheer amount of fuzz doesn’t detract but rather adds a 70s psychedelic undertone, which surprisingly isn’t at odds with the band’s musical influences and I think it only adds to their sound. The album relies primarily on bass to the exclusion of rhythm/lead guitars, barring a few notable sections. Side A of this record is truly top-notch and a small part of me can’t help but wish this had been released as an EP. The first 4 tracks weave that vicious bass tone with excellent riffs, the synths are used brilliantly to weaves texture throughout the wonderfully occult atmosphere, and the drums serve effectively to establish the pace and tempo. “The Proposal”, my personal highlight, features an amazing Pagan Altar-esque solo. The vocal hook and chorus of “Heathen Counterattack” are very catchy and showcase how effectively the vocal harmonies mesh with the guitar work, synths, and atmosphere. “Towers of Bretagne” has the album’s best riff whereas “Hadji Murad” finds the band scoring Reverend Bizarre with the twangs and fervor of psychedelic tunings and solos.
Side B is where the band allowed more experimentation into their sound. “Genocide 1848” finds the band weaving a punk sensibility while “Steppenwolf” is more a slower-paced gothic overture which descends into a manic psychedelic frenzy. Whereas the band’s decision to go almost solely with bass, synth, and drums to the exclusion of guitar leads worked brilliantly on side A, it is here on Side B where it starts to fall a bit flat. “The Hammer Speaks the Truth of Heavy Metal Law”, which serves as the album’s outro, has the potential to stand out as the highlight of side B – a delightfully whacky vocal flourish and some excellent guitar harmonies are held back by a slow pacing that refuses to give the song much-needed room to breathe. Thankfully its final notes serve as an effective conclusion to the album. Perhaps it’s the contrast here that that makes the dip in quality a bit more apparent. That’s not to say these songs are bad. They deserved a place on the merit of their exploratory nature within the album and I found myself growing to enjoy these additions with each listen.
Last year was stacked with a multitude of diverse and hard-hitting doom releases, but Destruction of the Wicked stood out to me as one of the more exasperatingly unique releases – perhaps an oxymoronic title considering how fundamental and old school it is. Its manic approach is matched by a lawless quality that I think may prove quite divisive, but is also one of its biggest strengths. A large focus on bass-driven instrumentation brings in a punishing amount of old school grime and if there is one thing you can draw from this review it’s that this album is surely worth a try. You would have reason to not enjoy this, album but for those doom puritans who do, they will find a truly enrapturing record and one of the most memorable doom albums in quite some time. What a delight.
Purification is set to release a follow-up album on the 31st of July, one which I am eagerly awaiting. A promo track has already been released and it denotes an exciting refinement and evolution with a greater focus on melody, a shift to a more somber gothic vocal range (although I very much hope they maintain the soaring vocal heights achieved on their debut), and a greater focus on the sometimes sorely missing lead guitar. Here’s to hoping they fine-tune their sound and stick to what made their debut so magical.
Favourite Track: The Proposal