REVIEW: JON SCHAFFER’S PURGATORY – “Purgatory” [EP]
Founded in 1985, this band would go on to become known as the legendary heavy metal band Iced Earth followed and loved many millions with some great records like Burnt Offerings and The Dark Saga. Guitarist and founder Jon Schaffer revealed earlier this year about reforming the original avatar of the band along with past members Gene Adam on vocals, guitarists Jim Morris & Bill Owen, Ruben Drake on bass and drummer Mark Prator; Jon Schaffer’s Purgatory brings us a revamped blast from the past with the self-titled EP – ‘Purgatory’
The artwork is perfect representation of the album with all its elements right in front of you. This extended play comprises a total of five songs done in poetic narrative describing various urban legends. Opening song ‘In your Dreams’ represents Freddy Krueger and has a dreamy vibe to it which quickly turns nightmarish. The sound is very straight forward, and very heavy metal in its pacing and structure. The message is loud and clear with every “Freddy’s gonna getcha!” in the chorus and verses deeply describing his claws and everything mincing about the legend. The next song has already been released on YouTube and is my personal favourite. ‘Dracula’ walks you through dusk to dawn in the life of this monster with a classic heavy metal tune full of catchy riffs and high pitch vocals. The third quarter of the song has some great clean passages and solo work and describes the perspective of the victim too.
The third song ‘In Jason’s Mind’ visits the convoluted mind of the cold-blooded killer we are familiar with from the Friday the 13th series. Like the story of his nemesis Freddy this one also takes a narrative approach deeply describing the character and what makes him the “reaper with a knife”. The next song ‘Jack’ starts off with the eerie shrieks of a destressed woman and is unmistakably the story of the legendary Jack the Ripper. It is quite literally a musical on his heinous ways and a more frantic track musically in terms of structure and overall tone. Plenty of harmonized guitar, solo’s, and there is no shortage of old school chugging on the rhythm guitar. The final track ‘Burning Oasis’ while it does not talk about or represent any specific legend, to my mind is the interpretation of ‘Purgatory’ itself. The guitars have a more ominous tone and the song carries the record to closure with an overall darker vibe. Plenty of nice bass bits throughout too.
At 25 minutes long, this is at suitable length and keeps you engaged throughout its playtime. It is even more engaging if you’re aware of the urban legend because the tracks are extremely descriptive, almost like the narrative of an audiobook. Musically it offers nothing ground breaking and is often predictive with its structure, but tunes are well spaced and have plenty of elements in them without getting crowded. Schaffer’s signature is on all the tracks specially in the rhythm guitar. Vocals are top notch as well. This EP makes for one hell of a Halloween record to be honest and is an ode to classic American heavy metal. It releases this December as a well-produced limited digipack and 12” vinyl along with some goodies and I definitely wouldn’t mind getting myself a copy of it. Fans of the genre and the band will not be disappointed.
‘Purgatory’ comes a bit late in year for Halloween but carries its spirit in its descriptive poetic narratives on urban legends done in the style of an ode to classic American heavy metal.