Monday, 16 July 2012

Purulence - Canada's DM finest!

PURULENCE
Some time ago I got obsessed by a certain Canadian band called Purulence. They're not so well known I guess, hence their music was just damn killer. Their first demo is just amazing and so are the following releases: an EP and split with Amaymon. I've been listening to those recordings and started to write this article, as I wanted to present the band to you all, in case you have no idea of Purulence (just as I did with the likes of Baphomet, Altar, Allegiance and Expulsion - check out my page!). And then I got the news that Steeve Hurdle, the main man behind Purulence had died in May 2012. So, to finish this article became a mission. First I wanted to present you the band and then I also wanted to honour Steeve, as he's been great musician and while Purulence remains little knows, then I still think of them as the best Canadian death metal band ever. So, here it is.
RIP Steeve Hurdle
While thinking of Canadian scene I usually have the black metal bands like BLASPHEMY in my mind, as well as few thrash metal acts, especially VOIVOD, SACRIFICE and RAZOR, but death metal was never really a thing for which I would consider Canada to be especially remarkable. Although this country did spawn GORGUTS whose “Considered Dead” is probably my favourite album ever recorded by Canadian band, but later GORGUTS too much focused on over technical playing, which I’m not a big fan of. For the same reason I’m not a fan of CRYPTOSY or early KATAKLYSM (although the early works of KATAKLYSM are way better than their recent melodic albums with the worst vocalist ever!). Anyway PURULENCE is a band, which I haven’t been familiar with, but once I listened to their demo I thought: “man, they are fantastic!”. Well, definitely this was a great band, one which never released too many recordings and is relatively little known nowadays, but that’s just enough reasons for me to introduce them here.
Band’s beginnings go back to 1990, this is when PURULENCE was formed in Sherbrooke, Quebec by drummer Stephane Jolin and guitarist Stephane Gosselin, who were later joined by ex-BLIND WITCHERY members Steeve Hurdle (guitar / vocals) and Donald Boisvert (bass). The band started rehearsing their own material as well as played various covers of bands like AUTOPSY, MORBID ANGEL and SEPULTURA. Soon PURULENCE played few local gigs with the likes of RAZOR and SACRIFICE, as well as GORGUTS, what led them into a management deal with NEW WORLD MANAGEMENT (Rémi Coté, later running PROFUSION and PRODISK Records). After an unofficial live demo from 1990 (with two tracks: “Darkside of Immortality” and “Brutal Philosophy”) as well as a rehearsal recording from September 1990 (“Postmortem Examination” and “Darkside of Immortality”), PURULENCE recorded their first studio demo tape called “Atrocious Execration” in 1991. The demo was recorded and mixed by a new young producer Pierre Remillard. “Atrocious Execration” was an awesome piece of classic death metal, which have combined the style of early DEATH and AUTOPSY with the European classics like PESTILENCE, HYPOCRISY and GRAVE and sold around 1000 copies in less than a year and was really well received. The above average packaging and disturbing, shocking artwork, created a stir locally, and pushed the band’s name further and further. It resulted in more shows, which PURULENCE played as an opener for MORBID ANGEL, ENTOMBED, IMMOLATION, CANNIBAL CORPSE, OBLIVEON as well as a Quebec mini tour with BROKEN HOPE. Afterwards the band went back to the studio, again with Pierre Remillard, for the recording of their second demo, which eventually turned into the “Inverted Decay” 7”EP, released by the young, at the time, French label ADIPOCERE Records. More shows followed with local death monsters and road buddies ANTHAGONIST, followed by the recording of the bands 3rd demo (“In Harmony With the Deceased”) with yet again Mr. Remillard. A few shows later (with notably local heroes B.A.R.F.), PURULENCE signed a deal with ADIPOCERE for a split CD and one full length recording with ADIPOCERE. At that time Donald Boisvert was replaced by Frederick Simard (bass) and Sebastien Beaulieu (guitar) from ANTHAGONIST. The new line up recorded the song “Sinking Into Transparency” which was added up to the 3rd demo and re-released by ADIPOCERE as the PURULENCE / AMAYMON split CD. Steeve was eventually asked to join GORGUTS as session guitarist for their European tour with BLASPHEMY. A few months after the return from this tour, he joined NEGATIVA, band, which Luc Lemay formed after he split up GORGUTS line up. Few years later Hurdle and Lemay resurrected GORGUTS and recorded “Obscura”, this band’s most recognized album ever! Stephane, Frederick and Sebastien regrouped and one new song was written! The trio started auditioning new musicians to complete the line up but eventually disbanded after a couple of months. Steeve remained an active musician, played in several other projects. Unfortunately he dies in May, 2012, due to post-surgical complications. He was 41, very talented musician, so I pay tribute to him for great music of Purulence!
Atrocious Execration (demo 1991)
Recorded: Recorded and mixed by Pierre Remillard
Recording line up: Stephane Jolin (drums), Stephane Gosselin (guitar), Steeve Hurdle (guitar / vocals) and Donald Boisvert (bass)
I’m not going to lie and say that I know Purulence ever since the band has released their first demo, because it won’t be the truth (hey, I was only 11 back then!). I actually have found out about this band around 2009, when someone recorded me their split CD with Amaymon plus this demo. I don’t think though that I listened to it a lot then and still didn’t really know much about the band. But that was until I’ve found some more recordings from those Canadians… I actually started to look for some info about them, I’ve got very curious about Purulence, because I liked their demo so much that I thought it is one of the greatest demo materials from the early 90’s, which I had a pleasure to listen to. I’ve found some info about Purulence history and that Steeve Hurdle, guitarist and vocalist of Purulence, was Gorguts member on their “Obscura” album. Anyway, now I’m listening to “Atrocious Execration” yet again and I’m still very much amazed how killer the music on it is and at the same time I’m quite surprised that now so many people even know about Purulence. Shame!
Well, the front artwork of the demo did not announce anything exceptional, this gory photo of a massacred body would rather fit to some grind core bands, which I am not a big fan of. But never judge the book by its cover, they say, and here this sentence is absolutely right, as the front artwork is the only thing, which I don’t like about “Atrocious Execration”. Everything else, I mean mainly the music, is just fuckin killer. It’s just something I would never expect from such an unknown band, so damn awesome their death metal was and right from the first listen “Atrocious Execration” became one of the favourite demos I have ever listened to! Really! After a short intro the first riffs of “Crawling Mortality” begin and my impression at the start is that Purulence has very Swedish production! Really, that melodic riff which opens the demo reminds me the classic Swedish scene and bands like Epitaph, Excruciate and Hypocrisy, also because of the overall production! Good. Musically the whole “Atrocious Execration” is actually a sort of mixture between the Swedish sound plus a bit of Pestilence from “Consuming Impulse”, British Cancer and French Massacra, all mixed up with the American classics of early Death and Morgue for instance. So the music is not overwhelmingly original or whatever, but I guess that’s not really important, as long as the songs are good and I can honestly say that the songwriting on “Atrocious Execration” is really good and solid and thus each of the four tracks is just a deadly pleasure for death metal maniacs. Maybe sometimes the music can sound dangerously alike to some other bands, for instance the beginning of “Dark Side of Immortality” is a bit familiar and reminds me Hypocrisy’s “Pleasure of Molestation”. In other occasions that Swedish shadow will also be very obvious, as are the influences from the other bands I mentioned, but I like it anyway. Purulence sounds like they’ve picked up some of my favourite albums from the early 90’s and glued them together into one, motherfuckin killer demo material. No weak parts here, no boredom, just plain, classic old styled death metal, with killer riffs, harsh vocals and deadly riffs. Fuckin classic and a must for all die hard maniacs! I only wish I could get this demo in the original pressing of if someone was so kind and released it on a vinyl.
Best song: “Crawling Mortality”, “Post Mortem Examination”
Final rate: 90/100

Inverted Decay (ADIPOCERE Records - EP 1992)
Recorded: Recorded and mixed by Pierre Rémillard at Peter Pan studio (Montréal) in April 1992. Produced by Purulence.
Recording line up: Stephane Jolin (drums), Stephane Gosselin (guitar), Steeve Hurdle (guitar / vocals) and Donald Boisvert (bass)
I don’t know what feelings did Purulence had while recording this EP, but I must say that before I’ve listened to it I felt like the bar was risen very high by the killer “Atrocious Execration” demo, so it would be just very difficult to record something even better. First look on the cover of this EP and I know that at least the front artwork looks much better here (the cover of the demo is awful), as this sort of poster of zombie horror movie looks just fantastic (and I bet if anyone would ever want to re-release all Purulence recordings, then this piece of artwork should be on the cover of it and be included on a poster… Anyone should suggest that to The Crypt maybe?). Anyway, EP singles are very specific kind of releases, from one hand they usually offer some exclusive songs, what makes them very interesting and always worth having. Personally I really like 7”EP format, they very cool, but there’s always the second side of the coin and that’s the fact that 7”EP can only fit about 10-11 minutes long material, which is just so little. Two songs from a band like Purulence makes you scream for more. unfortunately, that won’t happen and “Inverted Decay” has only two tracks: the title one and “Impotent Damnation”.
In the beginning of this review I wrote that it can be very difficult to record a material better than the demo and I can sincerely say that I definitely like “Atrocious Execration” demo more than “Inverted Decay”, but that doesn’t mean that this EP is a shite. No, it’s still damn cool death metal, but it just happens that I like the material from the demo more. When listening to “Inverted Decay” I have an impression like Purulence didn’t have so many, if any, Swedish death metal influences in their music like on the previous recording. Those Swedish parts were obviously one of the main reasons why I liked “Atrocious Execration” so much, but here everything is more into the US death metal. The production is very brutal and tight, very massive and so are the songs – faster, more extreme, more meaty and brutal as hell. In many ways I can say that “Inverted Decay” EP reminds me such US bands as Baphomet (Banished), Gutted, Suffocation, so the change of the sound is quite big here. But the songwriting is still very good; the riffs are slashing mercilessly, the vocals are more guttural and much of the EP has been played at the very fast pace, what only adds the energy and aggression. Purulence became also a bit more technical, so as overall I can say that they definitely have progressed since “Atrocious Execration” demo… if it was the progression in the right direction, I leave it into your opinion. As I already mentioned, I like the demo more, but “Inverted Decay” is also very decent and good material. Purulence proved to be worthy and memorable band and the quality of their demo wasn’t coincidental.
Best song: “Inverted Decay”
Final rate: 80/100

Purulence / Amaymon (ADIPOCERE Records – Split CD 1993)
Recorded: Purulence: recorded and mixed by Pierre Remillard at Peter Pan Studio (Montréal). Amaymon: recorded and mixed by Alain Guerci in May 1993 at Plaza Studio.
Recording line up: Amaymon: Vincent Urbain (Bass), Sébastien Gauthier (Guitars, Vocals), Christian Bivel (Guitars), Fred Puvilland (Drums)
Purulence: Stephane Jolin (Drums), Steeve Hurdle (Guitars, Vocals), Donald Boisvert (Bass), Sébastien Beaulieu (Guitars)
There are still many recordings from the past, which aren’t so well known and are waiting to be discovered. For me this split between Purulence and Amaymon was one of such releases, which I wasn’t familiar with until recently. I got interested in it, when I started to listen to Purulence’s “Atrocious Execration” demo and thought it is one of the greatest demos ever, really! Soon I started to look for some information about the Canadian band and started to listen to also their other recordings, what leads us to this split CD. Well, even though it was released by Adipocere Records, which was quite respected label and which released some really great stuff, I don’t think this split CD is so well known, unfortunately. Nowadays it does appear on the internet auctions once in a while, but the prices are usually quite high, so at the moment I’m just listening to it from a cassette, when I have it recorded. I do hope though to get the original CD one day.
As I said, Purulence was the main reason for me to listen to this split. They were amazing band and after killer demo and really solid EP I just really wanted to listen to this material also. Those Canadians have putted here four songs and I must admit that they sound totally fuckin amazing! Style wise the band has evolved quite a lot since the “Atrocious Execration” demo, but definitely this split material is a rightful continuation of the “Inverted Decay” EP. And that means Purulence plays brutal, fast, technical death metal, a lot inspired by Baphomet / Banished, Suffocation, Monstrosity and Cannibal Corpse, to name just few bands. At the same time this material still has a hint of the Swedish death metal influence, which was so important on the demo. When I listen to the opening theme for “Devoted to Lunacy” I can really find a lot in common between it and bands such as Seance and Hypocrisy for instance, which is great. I’m truly amazed by all songs, which Purulence has included here. They’re all just killer pieces, which are crushing with total death metal riffing, with many fast, relentless parts, but which also will massacre you with great Baphomet like slow beats, like the one from “Inhaling the Souls”. And “Sinking into Transparency” will even surprise you will more melodic part here and there, along with incredible guitar leads. I love this song, the way it is structured (especially the opening fragment), how the band builds the tension in it. Absolutely wonderful piece of death metal! But the whole material has great riffs, amazing guitar leads, a lot of energy and deep, guttural vocals… and really good production – there are only positive things, which I can say about Purulence. What’s amazing is that even nowadays this material sounds incredibly fresh and vital, and even though one could say that it is old school death metal, then it has a slight modern touch, what makes it not archaic sounding even nowadays. I am sure than if a band recorded it last year, then everyone would say that it is a killer piece of technical, modern death metal. I can say that this material didn’t get old at all… and it is just a fuckin’ big mistake that Purulence never went anywhere further with such an excellent material and that they haven’t released anything else after that! What a fuckin’ shame! Instead Steeve Hurdle joined Gorguts to record “Obscura” with them and Purulence split up.
As for the second band from this split, they’re called Amaymon and it was a French band, which also never went anywhere further than the appearance on this split CD. It actually includes their only demo recording and I guess the only reason why they’ve ended up on this CD together with Purulence was that Christian Bivel, Amaymon’s guitarist, was Adipocere Records’ owner. Musically this band also played death metal, but quality wise their material is just poorer that the one of Purulence and to be honest, it was just very mediocre. Not that it’s a pile of crap, it wasn’t that bad, but when compared to the excellent Purulence it seems to be quite mediocre. The production difference between both bands is very noticeable, Amaymon sounded much rawer and not even half as brutal and powerful as the Canadians and style wise their death metal was also not so extreme. It was more European influenced, with quite a lot of thrash metal riffing here and there and I can say that their music reminds me the likes of Protector and Massacra. There are some cool fragments, like in “Shemhamphorash”, which may be my favourite song from their part of the split. “Evil Prevails, The Rapture” is also a cool song, it even includes some keyboard background to one of the riffs, what surely underlined the darkened atmosphere of it. Yeah, in the end Amaymon was just average death / thrash metal band. They were fine, but I can find many better bands than them. Anyway, they’ve marked their existence in the history of death metal with participation on this split CD with Purulence, so I’ll remember their name now.
Best song: “Sinking into Transparency”, “Inhaling the Souls” and rest of Purulence’s material!!!!!!!
Final rate: 80/100 for the whole CD, but 95/100 just for Purulence

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