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BastardHead, May 29th, 2018

(Total rewrite. Original shitty version posted February 5th, 2008)


I love this fucking album, really I do. But because I love Evolution Purgatory so much, I have to admit its faults, so I'm just gonna knock those out of the way before I even get to the rest of it because I'm going to coat it in so much fanboy goo that it's probably insulting to the infertile. The mix is kinda off, with the vocals and leads being WAY louder than anything else, which is kinda disappointing when the album is so jam packed full of excellent riffage. Also the album does hit sort of a dead patch because the only two songs that are less than perfect are immediately one after the other in the tracklisting (those being "Passion/Pain" and "Raise Hell").

That's it! Everything else is flawless so let's get on with it.

Persuader is a Swedish power metal band that got a lot of hype in the mid 2000s for reasons that are admittedly kind of untrue once you become more familiar with the band and style as a whole. One of their big claims to fame is that the vocalist, Jens Carlsson, is an absolute dead ringer for the inimitable Hansi Kursch. I'll touch on it more in detail later, but that's only half true. Their other big hype generator is that they were heavy. This was the power metal album to shove in people's faces for a long time whenever they'd complain about power metal being a dumb flowery style full of sissy nerds with squeaky voices doinking on about dragons and maidens with loads of slinky keyboards. Again, this is kind of unfair because people who make that criticism are the same types of people who say all black metal is fuzzy tremolos and blastbeats with bad shrieking recorded on an answering machine or all death metal is cacophonous noise with talentless gurgling. If you've ever listened to anything beyond Stratovarius or Nightwish you'd be well aware of that, but 2004 was the era when Blind Guardian and Helloween were putting out A Night at the Opera and Rabbit Don't Come Easy so I guess people just conveniently forgot Black Majesty existed and assumed everybody forgot how to riff.

Now, despite the frequent (incorrect) claim that Persuader was the only band kicking ass in the genre at the time, it does nothing to diminish the fact that it is heavy as shit. Evolution Purgatory is pure fucking testosterone spraying out of every orifice with the force of a firehose. These riffs hit so hard that you're in danger of breaking your jaw upon listening. The vocals are so wild and insane that I'm pretty sure he's chewed off one of my fingers through the speakers. The album as a whole carries such a hefty fucking set of testicles that the band has to carry them over their shoulder and use them to club everybody wearing a burlap tunic to death. It's just this behemoth katamari made entirely of nutsacks and fists and its only goal is to punchfuck you until your brain leaks out of your armpits.

What all that really means is that Persuader isn't afraid to amp up the punchiness and take influence from some of the harder forms of thrash and speed metal without ever losing their touch for the signature power metal strength of melodies. Listen to something like "Sanity Soiled" or "Godfather", the riffs build around these vaguely-thrashy atom bombs that carry a surprising amount of weight. The band doesn't often truly kick it into overdrive and fly through crazy high tempos, but that just means that these riffs just hit you even harder. They don't shred you, they don't tear you apart, they pulverize you instead. It takes a lot of skill to take a more rhythmic focus in such a melodic genre and not sound lazy. Not many bands can focus on mid-to-high tempo open string chugging and sound ferocious instead of dull, but Persuader pulls it off effortlessly here. But with that said, they really run the gamut of all possible influences for this particular subniche of power metal. Opener "Strike Down" is a more traditional power metal affair, while "Fire at Will" is a thrash-infused murder fiesta, while "Masquerade" stands as probably the most melodic song on the record and still manages to have verse riffs that sound like the band is coming apart at the seams and the drummer completely forgets what to do so he just spazzes out, while "To the End" is just total high speed anarchy from the word go, it just never stops. Every track has a new surprise for the listener and it perfectly straddles the line between eclectic and pandering, instead becoming the aforementioned abomination of balls and knuckles that rampages through the album like an avalanche run through your barbaric teenage fantasies. Seriously, I'm sure "Fire at Will" manages to make everybody named Will run for their fucking lives during a live set, because I know I would have to restrain myself from taking the song literally and just letting adrenaline take over while I destroy everybody in the near vicinity.

I said previously that the mix tends to favor Jens a bit too much, but really he's such a highlight of the band that it's only a flaw in a technical sense. Yes, he sounds like Hansi, but only on a surface level, once you think about it medium-hard he's actually quite unique. Blind Guardian is obviously the chief influence and I don't think anybody will deny that, but he approaches his vocals in a completely different way. Hansi is a bard, a crooner. He could be vicious on the early albums when they were "young, fast, and freaky", in his own words, but ultimately he was a storyteller who simply added the appropriate amount of sinister gravel to his otherwise perfectly smooth voice when the song called for it. His penchant for layering over himself ten quadrillion times made a great choir effect that added so much to their most epic tracks, especially from 1995 and onwards. Jens doesn't do that shit. No, he may have an extremely similar "default" voice and somehow managed to replicate his hilariously heavy German accent perfectly, but he approaches his craft with all the wild-eyed lunacy of a feral maniac. He lacks some of Hansi's signature baritone, instead sounding like a shrill, cockeyed freak with blood seeping through his teeth. He is constantly flying off the handle with freakish shrieks and deep growls, throwing harsh vocals into the mix with little restraint. Take a gander at one of the album's highlights, "Turn to Dust". Throughout the verses I swear he's cycling through every possible style of vocal inflection he can think of with each new line, going from full throated harsh screaming to scratchy high pitched screeching to deep death metal-esque bellows to almost soulful Hansi styled smoothness to everything in between, all within the course of one twelve second stanza. When the vocals do layer on top of one another it always has more in common with a thrash gang shout than a power metal choir. For all the similarities to Hansi that he has, he has an undeniably more visceral and gritty voice. He's by no means a better singer than Hansi (nobody is), but he's definitely a more insane one. If the bridge in "Sanity Soiled" doesn't convince you, then you're beyond saving. EVOLUSHON PURGATORAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYY

The band's greatest strength down the road, as they dropped their manic intensity, is undoubtedly their penchant for great melodies and choruses, and even though they're not the star of the show here, that strength is still showcased with aplomb. Persuader is not complex art, they aim to rip your limbs off and beat you with them while being as stylish as possible, and they definitely accomplish that, but there's a surprising amount of depth and complexity to how they craft these insanely vicious singalong moments. "Masquerade", "Turn to Dust", "To the End", "Raise Hell", all of them exemplify their dedication to forward propulsion, because they never rest on a hook and let it carry the chorus into your enduring memory. Instead they do the vocal equivalent of how James Malone manages to play riffs and solos at the same time with Arsis and wind up smashing three different hooks together to create this unconventionally infectious style of chorus writing that sounds like a pre-chorus and two different choruses all roaring at you at the same time. I can't get enough of this shit, I don't care if they're better on When Eden Burns, they pound so fucking hard when coupled with the frenetic intensity of the rest of the songs on Evolution Purgatory that they almost actually work better just due to the contrast of the nutso thrashing and vocal trapezery that leads up to the maddeningly catchy refrains.

There's no real place to put this, but seriously, bonus points to the guys for being a power metal band in the mid 2000s and realizing they aren't Blind Guardian so they don't try to write any ballads. Power metal bands suck shit at ballads and thankfully Persuader understood that and just stuck to meaty fuckin' riffs the whole time instead.

I feel like I might've just rambled gibbering idiocy the whole time I've been writing this, but if you take anything away from this review, take away that Persuader absolutely fucking smashed with Evolution Purgatory and became semi-underground treasures for a damn good reason. This is power metal for Slayer fans, for people who would rather crush skulls in a desolate wasteland than be whisked off to magical lands. I like my prancy fairy metal as much as the next dork, but sometimes this shit just hits the spot, and it's had its hooks in me for over a decade at this point.

(ps: his accent is hilarious, "sword" always sounds like "serd" and "dark" is "dork")

Originally written for Lair of the Bastard

The way it's meant to be played - 100%

Darth_Roxor, November 12th, 2009

Hey, heard about this stuff called power metal? You probably respond 'sure I do, corny music for kids about dragons and unicorns that's probably one of the most popular genres nowadays', so I say 'no, it's a genre that's nearly extinct' to which you make an expression of great amazement and ask: 'how so?'. You see, I'm not talking about the kind of melodic heavy metal that was introduced probably by Helloween, and then raped to death by completely talentless hacks like Alestorm or Dragonforce, no, I'm talking about what happened when American thrash bands decided to slow down a little bit and add some melody to their music. Unfortunately, it seemed to have been largely outnumbered by the European brand that started popping up like mushrooms after rain, and even bands that played the American thrashy style eventually started changing - compare Iced Earth's first albums to the later ones, same with Gamma Ray and Nocturnal Rites, that while not really perfect examples of American power metal, they often stayed true to the thrash roots, but their newest albums are shit on almost every level. It would appear, that what I'm talking about in this a bit overlong history lesson is pretty much dead...


That 'almost' is Persuader. Dragons and unicorns? You won't find them here. Instead you'll find atheism and apocalyptic visions. Corny? Not one bit. Fucking awesome? From the very first minutes of Strike Down you'll know that this cd is going to be serious, and you'll probably still think that when Wipe Out ends.

What we have here, is balls-to-the-wall thrashy power fucking metal, with no motherfucking keyboards playing any sweet-ass amiga tunes, dual guitars that can do some good soloing, play fast thrash riffs almost all the time (Sanity Soiled and Fire At Will make for good examples of these) but are also not afraid to add melodies over the riffage (To The End might be the best example, Masquerade and Turn To Dust are also fine), and are almost always up-tempo with a few exceptions such as 'Passion / Pain' where they take a slower, more 'grinding' tone. Behind the guitars are constantly banging the drums, which set the tempo for the songs very nicely, and sometimes even include blast beats ('blast beats in power metal? You gotta be joking!' I already hear you saying). And over the guitars and drums are the vocals of Jens Carlsson. Now, I heard people compare him to Hansi Kursch of Blind Guardian many times, but I don't really think it's a valid comparison. Sure, they share the general 'pissed-offness' of their vocals, and have similar voices, but while Hansi goes for a more... 'epic'? style of singing, Jens goes for pure aggression. He's also pissed off like a hundred times more. There are no ballads where he could do slow and calm vocals (and thank heavens for that, because he's not quite fit for them - hear Savage Circus' 'Beyond Reality' and 'Ballad of Susan' for further reference), so instead he delivers very aggressive and powerful singing, borderline shrieks (as far as clean vocals go, don't think black metal), and sometimes goes as far as mild growling.

Most of the songs also have 'epic', slower passages that are more melodic and usually have some extra vocal effort and then explode with the regular sound. It all really makes for a great synergy, and the tempo either rises gradually (like in Raise Hell, starting with a short acoustic interlude, through the chorus and going back to the main riff or pretty much the very last minute of Sanity Soiled) or suddenly (like in To The End's 'the world is coming down closer to the... EDGE!!' or the bridge before the brilliant chorus of Sanity Soiled). But when I say 'epic', don't think 'pompous symphonies accompanying the clash of manly steel', but just moments that make the music somewhat 'soar', when the wall of sound is a bit diminished but the overall composition is very grabbing, if you get my drift.

Honestly, it's hard for me to find any particular flaws in this piece without resorting to nitpicking. Sure, very rarely you can't clearly hear the bass, and the rather awkward samples at the beginning of Strike Down are completely useless, but these are the only - and very minor - complaints on my part.

Apart from the samples in Strike Down there's not a single redundant sound, everything has its place and flows into one perfect whole - from the thrashy beginning in the form of Strike Down, through the splendid chorus and varied vocal usage in Sanity Soiled, the small overall slowdown in Masquerade, the grinding bass in Godfather, the blasts in Turn to Dust, the epic Passion / Pain, the shifting speed in Raise Hell, the melodic To The End, the catchy Fire At Will and to the very last sample of an explosion in Wipe Out.

The last line of the chorus in Sanity Soiled says 'Trade your soul for another day'. That would probably be another day of listening to Persuader.

Witty title. Laugh at it. - 75%

Empyreal, March 29th, 2009

Persuader are one of those bands. And by that, I mean that they're one of those heavy Power Metal bands that everyone loves to cite as being "different from the pack" and "ballsy." This is usually uttered by such dreadful cretins that think that the rest of the genre sounds more or less all like Rhapsody, Sonata Arctica and Stratovarius, with no exceptions. No, never mind the fact that the other Metal genres all cover a wide scope of sounds even within their own constraints, or that they all have many bands that sound nothing alike and yet still manage to live under the same generic umbrella, these people think that Power Metal is the one outlier and that all of its bands must share a similar sound. Now, granted, there are similar wet-ears that think the same sort of thing about the extreme genres, but this is about Power Metal and about Persuader, so bear with me.

I think some of the reason this album got so hyped up in some circles was because of those very misconceptions. They had never heard anything of a higher quality (or simply couldn't appreciate the quality of the more talented "flowery" bands in the spectrum), and so this album in particular got touted to high Hell because it displayed the aggression and brutality that the fans of the more numerous extreme metal genres wanted as well as enough Power Metal-ish elements to allow them to say that they like at least one Power Metal album. Not that there's anything wrong with that, though; I'm just trying to approach a medium here.

Now, I know what you're thinking: Aren't Persuader also popular because they were the winners of the Young Metal Gods competition one year? Maybe, but I'm not going to allow that to ruin my soliloquy here!

So, as you might have been wondering, Persuader are actually a pretty good band, but I just don't believe they are nearly as good as many other people seem to believe. They play a very stripped down and basic style of Power Metal with the energy and aggression turned up to 11, and they have a vocalist who sounds like an exact clone of Hansi Kursch from Blind Guardian. If he was on crack.

I mean, really, this is just insane. A lot of the time I'm distracted from the actual music on this album because I think I'm just listening to a really basic-sounding Blind Guardian album! It's quite surreal, and I'm not exaggerating there, either, and it's a shame because Jens Carlsson sounds really good on here, and the music isn't half bad either. The only occurrences on this album where I remember that I'm actually listening to a different band occur when Carlsson goes into a really badass lower growl/rasp on songs like "Masquerade," so I can say that one of Persuader's problems is identity. If I were them, I would perhaps utilize the darker, edgier side of Carlsson's vocal range more often, thus giving the band a greater sense of originality and charisma, and setting them apart from their peers whilst still retaining the traditional Metal crunch they so relish in.

The music on here is pretty damn good, as I already mentioned. There isn't a whole lot of detail you can go into about this sort of stuff, as it is basically just heavy, galloping/chugging riffs, fast, pummeling drum-work and a really metallic, crunchy production job. And...that's really about it. It is played very well though, so I can't complain about it that much. This is definitely a lot of fun and worth a listen or two, but the songwriting really isn't dynamic and headstrong enough to really warrant a better score - this band's strength comes pretty much only from the manic energy they put into their performances. Jens Carlsson's Hansi Kursch impression really is impeccable, and he sounds top-notch all throughout the disc, having more aggression in his performance here than Mr. Kursch himself has had in years. They all sound confident and angry as fuck, but I just can't help feeling that I've already heard all of the stuff on here done better.

I think the problem with this album is that it says all it needs to say in two songs: "Strike Down" and "Sanity Soiled," the very first two songs on the album. Evolution Purgatory is an album that does not offer any real variety in song moods or tempo, sticking to either mid-paced or full-speed-ahead, and always using the same style of chorus and riffing technique. Now, lots of great albums do this same thing, but a lot more fall flat because they use up all their material in a few songs, instead of spreading out the goodness throughout an entire forty-five minute album duration. This is a problem that tons of bands fall prey to, and I won't fault Persuader that much for doing it, as this album is still pretty decent, but really, after "Sanity Soiled," there isn't much of a reason to listen to the rest of this, on principle alone. "Sanity Soiled" packs both the best chorus on the album and the most varied musical changes - just witness how it changes direction and mood from the spitting, volatile verses to the anthemic chorus. Very cool. And "Wipe Out" has a great solo about three-quarters of the way through - killer! Total classic metal bliss, nice and hot. Just the way mama told you to get it at the supermarket.

Another problem? Most of the songs on here are not as good as they could be, with choruses being a bit dragging and over-long and melodies sometimes sounding uninspired. "Strike Down" has a perfect chorus, speedy and punishing, and I already mentioned "Sanity Soiled," but a lot of the other songs on here like "Passion/Pain" and "Godfather" have really dragging, overly pre-processed layered choruses like the worst ones off of Nightfall in Middle Earth - surely a stark contrast to the vicious verses and heavy, crunchy riffs! "Masquerade" has a really annoying melody to it, too, fluttering on like a little metallic butterfly through a field of spiked riffs and flaming vocal lines. Quite out of place. Tightening up their songwriting would vastly improve Persuader's musical minefield of metallic melodies.

But I digress, for this really is not too bad of an album. It is just rather uninspired and sort of rushed-sounding at times, but honestly, if you're looking for heavy Power Metal that just rocks the fuck out, and you've already gone through Paragon, Running Wild, Grave Digger, Iron Savior and Cage, Persuader are a safe enough bet. I just think this is best in small doses only, as it gets rather tiring to listen to after a while. So with that, I will leave you.

Persuader - Evolution Purgatory - 100%

DarkDryad, September 6th, 2005

Blind Guardian, Stratovarius, Manticora and Angra all combined together could not create a masterpiece greater than Evolution Purgatory. I’ve never heard a flawless album until I got my hands on this. It’s not the usual high clean vocals, neither the already predicted Stratovarius melodies nor the slow Angra ballad trying to create an atmosphere; the atmosphere is there from the beginning until the explosion at the end.

Persuader got some recognition after participating to a metal contest called “Young Metal Gods”. But the competition was quite useless since their debut album The Hunter was to die for and anyone who had heard of that album would have recognized their talent. Straight out from Sweden, home of the best power metal bands, Persuader is slowly gaining popularity amongst the power metal fans. First of all, Jens Karlsson’s vocals are amazing. The melodic harshness in his voice fits the song beautifully and the mixing with the backup vocals is absolutely amazing. I must admit, I never thought something could sound this good. And then you have all the guitar riffs that are so heavy, but melodic??? Yes that’s right, amazingly melodic. And then the drums are played at a great pace and when everything is put together, you get this new sound…mesmerizing!

I’d name some highlights of this album, but to be honest every song on it is great, so I would be lying if I left any out. It’s a must, for every fan of metal. This isn’t your typical power metal, I’m pretty sure it would appeal to every melodic death metal fans. Highly creative and refreshing this album is, and I do not hesitate one second in saying that they will become very big and will have great influence on new power metal bands. So I give this album 100%, I am not kidding, the album is flawless, so if you have a chance to put a hand on Evolution Purgatory, jump on it; it’s worth over a hundred dollars. Albums like these don’t come around very often.


The best modern power metal album. - 92%

Cup_Of_Tea, May 11th, 2005

I must admit that I didn't give it such a high rating to this album because of it's interesting riffing, or good drumming, neither for the awesome vocal performance, but because the perfect songwriting skills of this band. Even if it's not like other power metal classics(The Spectre Within, Seventh Son, Eternal Idol, Somewhere Far Beyond), it's a worthy modern power metal achievement.
It doesn't have the riff onslaught of Unification or Powerplant, but it does have a much better atmosphere and feeling fused into it's rhythm. Though both The Hunter and Evolution Purgatory rule in their own way - The Hunter being a speeding riff killer cannot really compete with this one.
This album simply kicks it real hard for only one reason: The Vocals. Jens Karlsson I don't know who you are, but you fucking rule! Imagine a more powerful, more pissed off Hansi Kurch, and now multiply it by 4 - yes it's that fucking awesome!
The riffs are also a nice little pack of headbanging material. Although not as numerous or as memorable as in the classics mentioned before, they do their own job excellent in a very Iron Saviorish style, the only difference being the speed.

Though my favorites would include Strike Down, Masquerade and the awesome Raise Hell.

This baby is worth buying twice, definetly. Power metal won't become more interesting that this, though a bit more modern produced it has the same, extremely catchy choruses as Wizard and Gamma Ray, which makes it automatically a great release.
In Flames? I think not. This is pure ownage, it doesn't suck as nearly as the compared to band.

These guys didn't forget how to kick ass - 98%

NightOfTheRealm, May 21st, 2004

It seems like I’ve been waiting over 3 years for EVOLUTION PURGATORY to be released. Wait a minute, I have. Ever since Persuader’s already legendary debut, THE HUNTER hit my stereo in 2000 I have been hoping for a follow up. Now, after winning a Noise Records recording contract in the Young Metal Gods contest, I have finally got my wish.

The band’s hiatus has not diminished Persuader’s fury in the least; if anything, it has been tempered with resolve in the face of the daunting task of releasing an album to equal, if not surpass the almighty THE HUNTER coupled with the intense adrenaline rush that must certainly accompany winning such and important contest such as Young Metal Gods.

To me, Persuader has represented several important characteristics that set this band apart since their first album: fresh and original song structures, heavy guitar riffs and tasty solos that bring out the best of power, speed, and thrash metal guitarwork, as well as the speed, melody, and catchiness that contribute to memorable songwriting. From the first 30 seconds of the album’s opener, “Strike Down,” it is evident that this is a fine disc in true Persuader fashion through and through. Just listen and you’ll see what I mean. Quick, you have one guess to identify the big-name producer responsible for the supreme, in-your-face bombastic sound and gigantic choruses here. Yup, it’s Piet Sielck’s trademark for sure (he even sings backing vocals on several tracks). It should be no coincidence then that the overall feel of this album is the power-speed metal of bands such as Blind Guardian (both the early speed metal albums as well as the bombastic ANatO style choruses), UNIFICATION-era Iron Savior.

Speaking of Blind Guardian, vocalist Jens Karlsson is the legitimate heir to Hansi Kursch’s position should he ever leave BG. Seriously, though, Karlsson’s voice is nearly a dead-ringer for Hansi that it’s almost scary. “Sanity Soiled” gives the listener one hell of a ride through a twisted course of riffs and a flurry of solos with the track changing direction several times throughout its duration. “Send shivers up my spine” indeed! The chorus here is as catchy as ever. “Masquerade” is one of my favourite cuts from the album, and is certainly the most melodic of the lot. Two things here that I really enjoy are the vocal variations including scream, powerful clean voice, and even near-growl, the very fluid guitar tone that creates a very smooth song, and the cheery tone of the song that does not succumb to any sort of floweriness or weakness.

“I am the Persuader!” With a line like that, you just have to sing along with track #4, because holy shit, “Godfather” is just a punishing domination of heavy riffs all the way through. The solo around 3:20 has a strong classic 80s metal feel to it that I really dig. “Turn to Dust” has a very distinct Iron Savior-ish flavor much in the CONDITION RED style which contrasts with the slower “Passion/Pain,” which reminds me of the somewhat ballad-ish feel that I got from the last Mob Rules disc, especially with the use of keyboards. I’m sure you kids on Metal-Rules will recognize “Raise Hell,” which appeared on our very own Metal-Rules volume 1 compilation. This track is the typical Persuader song in that it is largely atypical in structure and style with changes that will keep the listener on his toes for sure. In case you haven’t figured out the pattern already, I’ll just say that the last three tracks kick equal amounts of ass compared to what we’ve heard already.

If Persuader were any lesser band, I would be writing of my disappointments of the sophomore effort following a debut as awesome as THE HUNTER, but that certainly is not the case here! Persuader have proven that they really are Young Metal Gods by demonstrating their ability to rebound after a break-up with such power and momentum to create an album that easily equals, if not eventually surpass the excellence of their first offering. This is not just a power metal disc, but something that any heavy metal fan would enjoy. In the event that you have not heard Persuader yet, fans of Blind Guardian, Iron Savior, Twisted Tower Dire, Running Wild, Cage, and Grave Digger would do well to check out both Persuader albums or be forever branded a poseur.

(originally written by me for, March, 2004)