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Successful revamp - 90%

kluseba, January 10th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Century Media Records (Digipak, Limited edition)

If you're reading this review, you probably know that Purgatory was the band that preceded heavy metal icons Iced Earth. Thirty years after Iced Earth came to life, the original members of Purgatory got back together and recorded five songs from the band's early demos that would also influence several Iced Earth tracks. The trio of Jon Schaffer on lead and rhythm guitars as well as backing vocals, Bill Owen on lead guitars and Gene Adam on vocals was supported by other former Iced Earth collaborators with Jim Morris on additional lead guitars, Ruben Drake on bass guitar and Mark Prator on drums. This extended play was recorded without any commercial ambitions and made for fun. One can sense the liberating energy of performing without any expectations on this release even though some of the grit of the early years is gone.

The five songs are performed with all the skills the involved musicians possess and the guitar work varying between melodic mid-tempo passages and fierce up-tempo riffs is quite charismatic. The performance that needs to be pointed out though is Gene Adam's energetic vocals. He is often overlooked in Iced Earth's career and his vocals were indeed fairly limited in the early years but he sounds really potent on this record. He hits high notes reminding me of King Diamond, powerful lower registers in the key of Judas Priest and even includes atmospheric whispers here and there. He should really be singing in a more regular band with such unexpected skills.

Speaking of atmospheric whispers, the greatest asset of this release is the gloomy, mysterious and ominous atmosphere of the different tracks about horror franchises and stories. The sinister yet detailed cover artwork represents the band's spirit perfectly. This is the perfect record to close your eyes, dream yourself far away and discover a most entertaining world of terror.

If you like traditional heavy metal with horror film atmosphere, you should definitely listen to Purgatory's extended play. Even though the songs are three decades old, the timeless song material has aged well, is performed skillfully and oozes with atmosphere. Despite the fact that the trio hasn't performed together for a very long time, the three musicians have better chemistry than ever before. The liberating passion while performing these five songs has replaced the energetic grit of the early years. The songs are the same but the attitude has changed appropriately and one might somehow prefer the more experienced approach to the material nowadays over the wild spirit of yore. This more mature attitude makes the song material sound even more diversified, fluid and precise than ever before. Purgatory's self-titled extended play is a very pleasant surprise and better than most Iced Earth material of recent memory. Let's hope the band revisits other forgotten pearls in the near future and continues to bring the eighties back to life in a timeless manner.