Purgatory come out of Nebraska, pounding a dismal and brutal brand of hardcore. They do not linger in limbo, but have dedicated themselves to a caustic delivery of savage hardcore. Purgatory have one mission: the salvation of the breakdown. Resurrecting the ’90s metallic ethos, Purgatory nods to those bands’ legacies. This band goes all out in one direction. Purgatory’s Cold Side of Reality is eight tracks of menacing, beatdown hardcore.

The full-length debut, out on Buddy Armstrong’s (Stigmata) Unbeaten Records (the label that has given us Left Behind and No Victory), is racing with catchy riffs and hard-as-nails drumming. The nodding rhythms, often riding a double bass, found an alliance with bitter, scathing lyrics. Only having released an EP in 2015, Gospel of War, Purgatory have gained notoriety on their furious live shows and appearances alongside bands like Cruel Hand, Harm’s Way, Twitching Tongues, Ringworm, Terror, All Out War, Blood For Blood, Stigmata, Leeway, Merauder and Knocked Loose. They also toured this past April with Since The Flood and Absolute Suffering.

“You’ve never felt real fear – you’ve never known true pain
Face to face with the .45 – Do what it takes to survive”

The title track opens the album. Maybe it is because I have been rewatching The Wire. The slow riffs drip like molasses, with trickling bounce from double bass rhythms and tings of cymbals with accents from the guitars high strings. The mood is bleak and callous. The lyrics drive this atmosphere home with tangible tales of the gutter. Speaking of the new album, vocalist and co-songwriter Matt Anderson said, “a lot of emotion went into these songs, it’s violent and angry but wrapped in feelings of anxiety and personal pain. The songs reflect the problems and the truth of a society that most people ignore or are just ignorant of.”

Anderson and tenured guitarist Josh Mata have found rejuvenation with new members: Jake Henry on guitar, Adam Easterling on drums (also of Orthodox), and Brian Pilla on bass (also in No Victory). The new energy and focus profusely emanates from these new tracks, sounding pissed and unapologetic.

“Violence as My Vice” pounds incessantly and offers no penance for offenders, featuring a guest spot from Bob Riley. By the third track, I am ready for a little burst in the tempo. Purgatory deliver that with a faster song, “Sincerely Yours.” The production stands out, as Easterling’s drumming is varied and pronounced, serving up layers of punctuation. Guitar leads in quick measures spurt forward, adding nuance to the chugging riffs.

Side B steps up the intensity in songwriting and is heightened by a guest spot from Mike Score. This might be my favorite track. The remaining three tracks continue to pulverize. Purgatory push and push, laying down hard-ass tracks with nuanced guitar work and stellar production (“Pray for Death” has great bass line which is highlighted in a breakdown and some killer dive-bombs). They tracks are blistering testaments to enmity. The roiling rage is palpable (“Forced Failure”), never shying from aggression and confrontation. Picking up the speed and not solely relying on repeated breakdowns makes the breakdowns appreciated.

RIYL: Cold As Life, Merauder, All Out War, Stigmata, God’s Hate, Xibalba, Harm’s Way

Purchase the album here.


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