Written by: The Administrator
If there's one thing we long-suffering scribes appreciate, it's a flair for the dramatic. After all, our (aggressively fictional) habitat--the titular Sleeping Village--serves as the thematic bedrock for virtually everything that happens on this plot of internet property. As such, we hold a certain affinity to similarly histrionic entities...provided, of course, that there is an ounce of self-awareness behind the drama.
Portland's Purification is a band that has repeatedly hit the nail on the head when it comes to this rare combo, and, as such, the swell and strain of their puritanical doom frequently fills our humble halls. These guys are remarkably prolific, having released three albums and a couple o' EPs within a few short years. One of my many regrets as a reviewer is that I neglected to cover ‘em further after a review of their 1455 EP, but here I am, hopefully making amends.
No more time for self-flagellation, however. Let’s sink our teeth into some trve doom of the highest quality, shall we?
Dwell In The House Of The Lord Forever is the best thing Purification have created to date, illustrating the pinnacle of a clear progression in quality across the breadth of their releases. While leaning into a more psychedelic and instrumental approach in parts, it simultaneously continues the trend of focused and intentional songwriting. To say it is their best yet is saying something, considering how much I enjoyed their sophomore effort Perfect Doctrine, which felt like a considerable refinement in Purification’s unique sound and process. This latest release, however, capitalizes remarkably well on the aspects of their work that feels wholly individualistic: namely, the vocals, the atmosphere, and the rock-solid worldbuilding.
The reedy and otherwise warbly vocals are melodramatic to a degree that is intrinsically cheesy, but the earnest delivery sells the deliberately overwrought aesthetic. On Dwell In The House Of The Lord Forever , the vocals do feel quite balanced across the breadth--take the stellar “Rainbow Warrior” as a prime example. There’s a notable inclusion of somewhat tempered delivery, and when the vocals do dip deep into the drama, they don’t feel excessive, but rather invigorating. It’s a really nice balance, and feels like an homage to the thin-yet-theatrical vocal quality of acts such as Witchfinder General and Pagan Altar while still maintaining a sense of self.
The gothic atmosphere gently rips a page out of these act’s respective books as well: the tone is lo-fi, somber, and delightfully foreboding...but never lifeless. The bass and guitar are as fuzzy and muffled as ye might hope...but never dull. Indeed, the hefty riffage we’ve come to expect frequently lifts its veil to reveal a brighter tone. The drums are hollow and somewhat plodding...but never tired or distant. Over the span of the past few years/releases, Purification have found a way to hone their intrinsically raw sound without sacrificing the rough-around-the-edges appeal of an era when traditional doom was destined to sound antiquated. Bottom line: if you like the trve doom aesthetic a la Reverend Bizarre, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy what Purification hath wrought.
Needless to say, Dwell In The House Of The Lord Forever is a prime example of nostalgic doom done right. While there are hefty moments galore, Purification seemingly do not seek to overwhelm or bludgeon. Indeed, the many gentle tracks and airy moments allow the hard-hitting doom bangers to truly shine. For this lighter fare, look look to “Drömboken,”Ar Soudarded Zo Gwisket e Ruz,” and the gorgeous extensive intro to closer “Sailing To Byzantium: III” for some prime examples. The lumbering central riff and the sardonic chorus on the mighty “Second Coming,” (my favorite track herein, for what it’s worth!) simply wouldn’t hit with as much force if the song hadn’t been preceded by some light-footed meandering.
And yet, my favorite part of this album is the sheer consistency in the world it presents. Every moment herein feels like a tangible slice of a very real universe, and that alone allows Purification to stand out from the crowd. While part of that consistency is due to the underlying narrative and character development--see the album credits for a little insight in this regard--listening to Dwell In The House Of The Lord Forever is like unto watching a theatrical performance unfold. The tone is consistent yet varied. The sights and sounds on display feel confined by specific parameters, but Purification have skillfully avoided boxing themselves in, thereby allowing every track to shine according to its own unique merits. It’s a quality one hopes to see as a band matures, and here, the band in question has undergone quite the evolution. They’ve always had oodles of promise, and this album sees that promise fulfilled in spades. If they continue on this trajectory, we’re in for one helluva treat.
If you are new to Purification, Perfect Doctrine may still be the best starting place, as it often feels more immediate. However, if you are familiar with their unique take on doom, I highly, highly recommend giving Dwell In The House Of The Lord Forever a well-deserved listen (or three!) It remains one of my favorite doom albums in recent memory for a reason. Find it here, and keep your eyes peeled for another album. If the past is any indication, we’re due for a new masterpiece in short order.
Purification - Dwell In The House Of The Lord Forever was released on Dec. 25th, 2020. Find it here!
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We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!