Artist: Purest of Pain
Album Title: Solipsis
Label: Independent Release
Date Of Release: 1 March 2018
This album caught my attention for two reasons. Firstly, as you all know, I have a huge soft spot for melodic death metal. And whilst I’ll often take the PR material with a pinch of salt, I have to admit that the ‘for fans of At The Gates, Arch Enemy, Children of Bodom, Soilwork, Suicide Silence’ statement made me look twice. Secondly, Purest of Pain features both guitarist Merel Bechtold and drummer Joey de Boer from Delain. Now historically, I’ve not been the biggest fan of the Dutch outfit to put it mildly. However, their headline show a couple of years ago with Evergrey in tow really won me over in spite of myself. As such, I felt it only fair to check out Merel and Joey’s foray into melodeath.
Unfortunately, however, this might be the shortest and most dejected review that I have ever written on this blog. The reason being that apart from Arch Enemy and maybe Suicide Silence at a push, I don’t hear any of the other protagonists in this debut album ‘Solipsis’. More than that, I am struggling to think of too many positives that I can throw the band’s way, from a personal standpoint.
To these ears, there’s precious little material that I would happily refer to as melodic death metal on show at all. There are some melodic passages that nudge my attention as well as a few riffs here and there. But ‘Solipsis’ is much more of a modern metal record with plenty of monotonous chugging and djent-inflused metalcore-isms . That’s fine of course, but the final product just isn’t that good as far as I’m concerned. It all sounds too contrived and uninspired if I’m honest. I can’t hear a spark or anything that indicates that Purest of Pain are doing anything other than going through the motions.
I know that this sounds harsh and long-time readers will know that I absolutely hate being negative towards musicians that have put a lot of effort into a recording. The purpose of my website is to promote music, not slag it off, so I tend to steer clear of albums that I dislike so I can spend time on the ones that I actually like. I feel even worse when I know that this album was independently released and funded through a six-year touring regime. But on this occasion, I felt I had to make an exception because I hate being misled and I don’t want others to be misled either.
So, whilst the musicianship is very good, you can forget At The Gates and forget the notion that Purest of Pain might give you a healthy alternative to the likes of Dark Tranquillity, Omnium Gatherum or Soilwork. And forget most of the ‘Groove, ambience, tone, melody’ strapline too. I suppose mid-tempo monotony could be considered to be groove in certain circles. But as for ‘ambience’, please don’t get me started. Instead, imagine if you will, a band that takes the least positive bits of Arch Enemy, Machine Head and In Flames and blends them all together along with some metalcore influences and a splash of djent. You now have ‘Solipsis’.
The worst culprit on this record is the vocals, especially when you get that clean but slightly whiny, faux-aggressive semi-spoken word nonsense that was rife in the nu-metal movement and which Machine Head’s Robb Flynn seems intent on keeping alive of late – check out ‘Crown of Worms’ if you don’t believe me. It just makes my toes curl, especially when this is a feature in at least three of the opening five songs.
And in a nutshell, that’s about all you need to know. I have given this record a fair crack of the whip – understanding the important of not dismissing a record on the first, second or even the third listen, I sat through repeated spins even when I really didn’t want to. I could dissect the ‘Solipsis’ in more detail but as far as I’m concerned, there’s not much point in singling out individual tracks because the odd decent melody here or riff there is not going to save a record like this in my opinion. Too much damage is done throughout the record to even consider that the better moments might save the day. Oh, ok, well ‘Terra Nil’ features a nice melody and a cool lead guitar solo, whilst ‘Tidebreaker’ is a decent track.
I fully appreciate that I could well be in the minority here and there might be those of you out there who really like this record and are seething at me for my opinion. However, I’m just being honest and calling it as I find it – I won’t be listening to ‘Solipsis’ again. Nevertheless, I invite you all to take a listen for yourselves and decide whether Purest of Pain is the car crash that I think it might be, or the best thing since sliced bread.
The Score Of Much Metal: 4
If you’ve enjoyed this review, you can check out my others from 2018 and from previous years right here:
Susperia – The Lyricist
Structural Disorder – …And The Cage Crumbles In the Final Scene
Necrophobic – Mark of the Necrogram
Divine Realm – Nordicity
Oceans of Slumber – The Banished Heart
Poem – Unique
Gleb Kolyadin – Gleb Kolyadin
Apathy Noir – Black Soil
Deathwhite – For A Black Tomorrow
Conjurer – Mire
Jukub Zytecki – Feather Bed/Ladder Head
Lione/Conti – Lione/Conti
Usurpress – Interregnum
Kælling – Lacuna
Vinide – Reveal
Armored Dawn – Barbarians In Black
Long Distance Calling – Boundless
In Vain – Currents
Harakiri For The Sky – Arson
Orphaned Land – Unsung Prophets And Dead Messiahs
Tribulation – Down Below
Machine Head – Catharsis
Bjorn Riis – Coming Home EP
Twilight’s Embrace – Penance EP
Bloodshot Dawn – Reanimation
Rise of Avernus – Eigengrau
Arch Echo – Arch Echo
Asenblut – Legenden
Bleeding Gods – Dodekathlon
Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse