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The Battle Rages On… was convincing, the Mark-II 25th anniversary tour was successful, Gillan & co. managed to find a proper replacement for Blackmore on Joe Satriani for the Japanese dates and some European left, so Deep Purple prevailed after all during the tough 90’s when others failed and succumbed to the fragility of the whole metal scene. Mark-VI was ephemeral and soon the group was looking for another guitarist, rumors say Mr. Yngwie J. Malmsteen tried to convince these guys to choose him desperately but Steve Morse eventually got the job, also one of those shred guitar masturbators who appear like every month on Total Guitar along with Vai, Petrucci, Becker, Friedman, Tony McAlpine, Vinnie Moore, Eric Johnson, Joey Tafollas, Paul Gilbert & other Mike Varney’s pals. More rumors say poor Yngwie was so jealous and pissed with the band’s decision, he hasn’t spoken to Morse ever since, whatever…by 1996, Deep Purple’s new incarnation Mark-VII new era began with unexpected success.
This record is plenty of diversity and great inspiration, actually each cut features something characteristic, which proves the fine inspiration of this new formation. You got vigorous heavy metal tunes like “Vavoom: Ted The Mechanic” including that crushing palm-mute riff or “Cascades: I’m Not Your Lover” and its sophisticated speed metal essence, combining distinction with velocity and some accented catchy choruses, both exciting and energetic, revealing aggression and power. Riffs take notably bigger control on “A Castle Full Or Rascals” and “Somebody Stole My Guitar”, traditionally bluesy and casual, yet weighty and intense, defining some varied structures that present professionally developed instrumental sections among the infectious lyrics, so even though riffing is vital, Deep Purple elude to let everything hanging on them only. Those 4 are certainly the heavy artillery of Purpendicular, truly refreshing, fierce - yet classy at the same time, completely contrary from others like “A Touch Away” and “The Aviator”, which are sweet, delicate and putting emphasis on melody and acoustic arrangements instead, immaculately played with considerable sentiment and passion. So Gillan & co. can easily rock hard or get sentimental and sound equally competent anyway, demonstrating versatility and efficiency without getting stuck on just one style of music. “Loosen My Strings” and “Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming” alternate both insistent tenderness with dynamism, on which the band constructs amazingly solid titles from a simple melodic line, adding later tempo shifts and distinct sequences, making clear mediocrity and minimalist formulas ain’t part of their philosophy. Actually, this stuff is so musically rich it takes inspiration from an eclectic catalog of music genres: “Hey Cisco” or “Rosa’s Cantina” include that jazzy instrumental basis, conceiving an unusual configuration, very cool and fresh with some trace of rhythm ‘n’ blues & ancient rock ‘n’ roll, though “Soon Forgotten” is undoubtedly the most bizarre weirdest moment of the pack, constructed by those nearly absurd extravagant organ & guitar lines, becoming a surprisingly consistent piece of music, totally unique - Dalí, Magritte & De Chirico would’ve loved it.
Raise your hand if you were one of those many skeptics who thought Deep Purple would never make it without Ritchie. Well, I was one of the detractors myself, I couldn’t conceive or accept the idea of this band making new records without the magic of The Man In Black, yet this is no vain stupid exercise of self-indulgence as Pink Floyd’s terribly infamous A Momentary Lapse Of Reason or The Division Bell, this is brilliant music that honestly, naturally came from musicians that needed changes, a distinct concept and methodology of what they’d been doing for many years, exploring new horizons and experimenting with other sounds, because this is certainly a more versatile challenging work than The Battle Rages On…. The atmosphere on this one seems less strict and suffocating, more cheerful and comfortable without tension - that must be the reason why all these compositions came out so splendidly, nearly perfect. There’s an evident harmony and good feeling between the members, working together as one, united to follow one well-focused direction, which is no other than making good music and have fun without egocentrism but finding a new challenge to develop their stunning technique and song-writing potential. It could’ve failed scandalously if Morse & Lord didn’t get along so well, both personally and musically particularly, the impressive combination these 2 virtuosos made provides the music of incredible musicianship and creativity, setting a superb instrumental basis, supported as well by the usual efficiency of the Paice-Glover rhythm section. Steve Morse gave the group the originality and motivation they needed so bad, never trying to emulate Blackmore, simply believing in himself, in his own identity and work, putting all his abilities at the service of this music, of the group unlike all his insatiably pompous guitar-shredder folks. Gillan’s performance is highly competent too, his voice so fluent and defined, easily alternating roughness and tenderness, at its best, a more serious effort deprived of the limitations of the preceding album.
Unlike other famous confrontations in the history of rock/metal, both sides in this case were doing notably solid music, Ritchie with Rainbow on the blistering comeback record Stranger In Us All and these guys with this magnificent album, so maybe they could live without each other after all. They showed more respect to each other than Van Hagar to Diamond Dave or Waters to Gilmour & co. Both parts refused to abuse of the old formulas and live in the past too, both cleverly preferred to introduce changes, new arrangements and explore different kinds of music to not repeat themselves and become predictable mainstream rock-star dinosaurs. Maybe the successor Abandon wasn’t as spectacular, though Purpendicular remains as one of the most unforgettable on the extensive discography of Deep Purple anyway; undoubtedly this is the best thing they did in the 90’s. So all those skeptics out there, check this out, let music speak for itself and change your mind about Mark-VII, this one was unbelievably talented for sure.
Just don't, friends. This album doesn't deserves a higher general rating than "Perfect Strangers" or "Fireball" to some extent. Honesty forces me to write this review, actually just for settling things rather than praising or bashing this nice effort, because, yeah, it is a nice effort considering what was happening with DP before this album.
Blackmore had enough. We can all argue about who did the most for DP in the golden era, who resurrected DP in the silver era and what happened next. But Ritchie proved us two things in the last records: his mind was in other thing and he is human, after all, made of mistakes and bad decisions.
Because "Slaves and Masters" is a total creation of his mind. And roughly "THOBL" and "TBRO" are, as well, mostly made of Blackmore's fretting, if any fretting at all. Yeah, "Perfect Strangers" is a masterpiece. But what about the others? Not precisely head-crushing albums. Maybe, just maybe, "The Battle Rages On" equals the greatness of Mark II in some ways.
But to claim that "Purpendicular" is far better than "The Battle Rages On" or even "Perfect Strangers", that's a travesty!!
What's great about "Purpendicular" is the fresh air. The thing that happened with "Burn". But hey, in "Burn" the times were different. The ages were different. The magic was still there. Here, the scars are visible. The scars still are hurting and despite the new inspiration which could have come with Steve Morse, the band was still taunted by the great loss that meant the departure of Blackmore. And I'll say more: they stayed taunted and haunted by that until the release of "Now What" and everywhere, everywhere, that could be smelled miles away.
But hey, "Purpendicular" has many brilliancies. Indeed, Steve Morse proves how talented he is -from behind, though- and some riffs, specially in Ted the Mechanic, Loosen my Strings and The Aviator, he comes up with technicalities never-found in Blackmore's style. And that amazes us, shocks us to the core. A new sound, not leading the whole, but doing it from behind. That was the idea of Gillan, Glover, Lord and Paice. They didn't wanted "another Blackmore" with Satriani. They needed something else, different and pure. There's the point here and that's why Morse's appearance works perfectly for DP's idea.
"Purpendicular" is a nice release. Not that "heavy", not that "majestic" in terms of having a remindable song like, let's say "Anya" for giving names. But has a new spirit, a new way of approaching things. Unfortunately, Blackmore's spirit was still there, haunting, lurking. And they just couldn't shake themselves off that until "Now What" as I said before. Despite this, a couple of good songs in this album are now part of Deep Purple's canon: "Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming" and "Ted the Mechanic" are good enough to share some duties with the band's classic. And many other instrumental sections here are just as good as the previous ones in former releases.
Still, in this record, Gillan is far from his heights. Just like "The Battle Rages On" but even weaker, because here is no inspiration. Even the fresh air lacks to impress Gillan's voice to look for something else. And that's pretty much of it. Glover is cold, distant, making no great moves, just delivers the enough ammount. Only Paicey, in some moments, and Maestro Lord are up for the duty. Specially the latter. Maestro Lord charges on his back, again, the heavy weight of the band. And from behind, god bless you, Steve, for saving the band. Here, he still lies behind the mammoth, but his interventions and riffs were the thing for moving the ship after the fire.
Overall, a good release. Not brilliant, just good.
I've been a Deep Purple fan for a long time, but only recently got hold of this album. I suspect my situation is a similar one for many other Purple fans, who are no doubt familiar with the band's 70s material, Perfect Strangers, but have only come across one or two songs they've done since. As it happens, they've released a string of solid albums since Richie Blackmore's departure, of which this is arguably the best.
Sure, you can really hear that Richie is no longer in the band, but Steve Morse really does do a phenomenal job of working with the rest of the classic MKII lineup. This album has everything. Ted The Mechanic, A Castle Full of Rascals, Hey Cisco and others have that typical organ-laden heavy Deep Purple sound, whilst other songs are a little more of a departure, in a good way. Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming is a true epic, and one of the best songs the band have ever done, Rosa's Cantina is surpisingly bluesy, and there's some folkish touches, particularly on the amazingly pretty The Aviator.
It's not the heaviest album in the band's career, but it's possibly their most beautiful. It's almost as essential as Fireball, In Rock, Machine Head and Burn, and miles better than Perfect Strangers even if it lacks the obvious hits.
There are few bands that can match the amazingly high standards of Deep Purple. Even Deep Purple themselves have had trouble keeping up to their own standard, but with "Purpendicular", they really demonstrated that they still are the true monsters of rock. The album really is one of their strongest ever, and Steve Morse injects an amazing amount of good ideas and a fierce energy that the band hadn't had since the early seventies. One can really hear what a great time the band had playing theser songs.
The album opens with a heavy, pounding song called "Ted the Mechanic". This song would have been enough to save even the lousiest record. It's simply amazing. The riffs are great, the chord proggressions are well structured, the vocals are powerfull, and Steve's solo is as always amazing. This feel holds on throughout the entire album and there are moments here and there that are better than anything they wrote in the old days.
The second song "Loosen my strings", is a great power ballad, with breathtaking dynamics, and again beautiful melodies, with great structures. The chorus is very uplifting and it stays in your mind.
"Soon forgotten" is another example of a great, wild and fun side of Purple that one rarely sees. The organ work on this track is stunning and you are reminded why Jon Lord is regarded as one of the greatest keyboard players of all time.
The album can feel more heavy and metallic than older records, but Steve's sound blends so well with the rest of the guys, you almost wish that he'd joined the band earlier.
One of the greatest moments of the album is the guitar/organ solo in "I'm not your lover". It really stuns you. It's all just straight arpeggios, but it so good you can't believe it.
"Rosa's cantina" is a groovy and very cool track, which starts out with bass and organ. It's got a nice funky feel about it and it's different in a fun way, not just the normal formula.
The last three tracks however are the best. Just when you think that the album can't get any better, it does. "Hey Cisco" is a fast, heavy song. It has great solos and nice lyrics. Ian Gillan truly is a master of humorous lyrics. He can make any boring subject into something laughable, something he clearely demonstrates here. "Somebody stole my guitar" has the coolest riff on the hole album. Heavy, bluesy and groovy. The furious drumming from Ian Paice lifts the entire track and Roger Glovers bass has great tone.
"The Purpendicular Waltz" is pure blues, with the Purple touch. Great lyrics, great guitars and great drumming. It's a good closing track and leaves you with a nice overall feeling of the album.
"Purpendicular" is a breathtaking album, which crushes all doubts about no more Purple after Blackmore. All the songs are well-written and have got all the riffs and melodies you could ever wish for. Suddenly Purple weren't this bunch of old, bored guys. They were Deep Purple. The true masters of all heavy rock. This album is essential for all hard rock and metal fans who like Purple.