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Multi-flavored melodeath - 85%

Agonymph, April 15th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Independent

Melodic death metal generally seems to come in two flavors: heavy songs with ridiculously melodic choruses and At The Gates riffs with metalcore breakdowns. Anything that is neither of those is more interesting by default. Enter Purest Of Pain’s debut album ‘Solipsis’. The album has much more to offer than most of the band’s peers in terms of dynamics and atmosphere. All of these songs have rather unpredictable structures the choruses are designed as true climaxes rather than moments that take the sting out of the songs, like on so many recent works by Arch Enemy and their followers.

What really sets ‘Solipsis’ apart from other albums in the genre, however, is its overall mood. Both lyrically and musically, the album breathes an air of bitter cynicism and poorly veiled melancholy that makes it a pleasure to listen to. Due to the clever use of very strong interludes, ‘Solipsis’ plays like a concept album and as a result, has a very pleasant flow. The great deal of variation contributes to that as well. Purest Of Pain clearly does not plan to settle for a post-thrash polka and a half-time chorus for every song, which ultimately makes ‘Solipsis’ a triumph on the songwriting font.

Those who have followed the band are already familiar with ‘Momentum’, which is probably the closest thing to traditional melodeath on here. Due to inventive timing and a great use of dynamics, it is just a little different though. Furthermore, Purest Of Pain really seems to explore all the possibilities within the – admittedly limiting – boundaries of melodic death metal. On the most melodic end of the spectrum, there is the almost classic heavy metal feel of ‘E.M.D.R.’, while songs like ‘Tidebreaker’ are infused with more extreme metal sounds that really enhance the bleak atmosphere of the compositions.

One of the highlights of ‘Solipsis’ is ‘Terra Nil’, a midtempo grinder that works its way to a truly emotional chorus and a simple, but brutally effective guitar arrangement in its middle section. The threatening feel and punchy lead guitars of ‘Vessels’ also belong to the album’s strongest moments. Speaking of guitars, Merel Bechtold – also known for her involvement with Mayan and Delain – is the true revelation of the album. ‘Solipsis’ is first and foremost a guitar album, after all. Her massive, pleasantly layered guitar sound and interplay with Michael van Eck really is the main attraction of ‘Solipsis’, though Joey de Boer’s varied and intensive drumming deserves praise as well.

So there you have it, a melodic death metal album with more atmosphere and a greater amount of different rhythms than usual in the genre. Where most bands try to force variation by adding synths or oddly unfitting clean vocals, Purest Of Pain proves that the real way to make a difference in melodic death metal is to enhance your compositions rather than the arrangement. Every riff and every wide chord serves a purpose. And that is exactly what makes ‘Solipsis’ such an effective album. One that warrants multiple spins rather than going in one ear and out the other.

Recommended tracks: ‘Momentum’, ‘Terra Nil’, ‘Vessels’, ‘E.M.D.R.’

Originally written for my Kevy Metal weblog