Now, these Midwest metallic hardcore titans Purgatory have been on my radar for a while.
I’m a huge fan of their 2018 release “Cold Side Of Reality” & the few EP’s they have released before & after.
So hearing last year I would finally get to hear a follow up my mouth started to water in excitement. Purgatory is one of those rare cases. What would happen is the 90’s hardcore scene was dropped right into the ’00s. Purgatory merges all that’s good about the early metallic hardcore scene & weed out the bad.
“Cold Side Of Reality” was a strong contender that year for one of the hardest & heaviest records I had heard. And I can safely say “Lawless To The Grave” does not disappoint one bit.
Opening the album with the first single to be dropped “Stack ‘Em Up”. Using samples from my favourite 80s action film Cobra, instilling hatred for police brutality & corrupt governments we can tell purgatory have a message. Being able to mix heavy hardcore riffs reminding me of Hatebreed, Merauder & Stigmata. Purgatory is no-nonsense with their music & that’s why they shine so brightly in a scene filled with doers & try hard’s.
From the opening you can tell that Matt Anderson (Vocals) is pissed off, spewing “Fuck you, Fuck the system, we can’t trust them…” invokes an image of a group of people who have had enough of this world & the social ills we now hard to endure.
“Grave Of Sorrow” follows straight after into a faster passed more classic hardcore leaning sound but still carrying that chugging beatdown style. And this is what Purgatory does best. Riffing & the changing of tempos. Josh Mata & Brian Pilla work perfectly with each other.
Sometimes the riffs feel heavy death metal-inspired, on the other hand, they can change to more of an early beatdown sound like Bulldoze, Next Step Up & Irate.
“JCA” shows that real mix of hardcore fury, featuring brilliant lead work by Brian Pilla, this is a straight banger of a track, the last half is straight back & forth chugging guitars, a simple breakdown but oh so satisfying.
Now we get “No One Gets Out Alive” one of two tracks on the album that have become my favourite Purgatory tracks. In conjunction with “Loyalty Denied”, this is what Biohazard & Cold As Life would sound like if they were born in the ’00s. That perfect mix of hardcore, metal & urban upheaval. Both the most catchy tracks on the album & ones I find myself singing along to every time I’ve given this album multiple spins.
“Chains of Wicked Men” for me is the heaviest track on the album. Opening with one of the most pounding intros straight into the rest of the song which is death metal riffing to a tee. Think Dying Fetus & Cannibal Corpse having a love child with Enemy Mind & All Out War.
I can’t wait to hear this live and get in the mosh pit for this one. Pure banger.
What I’m happy to reveal also is that the second half of the album is just as heavy as the first half, hell maybe even heavier.
“Loyalty Denied”, “Thorn Of Life”, “Lawless To Grave” is the perfect way to end this album.
“Loyalty Denied” being the second favourite track on the album openings with a swell of power chords & a hypnotic lead guitar straight into what I can only presume is the heaviest verses in hardcore right now. This whole song is relentless throughout. “It’s just an eye for an eye”. “Keep an eye over your shoulder, it’s never over..” you can tell is the perfect song to blast when thinking about your mortal enemy. I’m sure I won’t be the only one!
“Thorn Of Life” is a great addition to the album, once released on the “Section 219” EP in 2019 it became one of the highlights at the Purgatory live shows. A great singalong track, more fast-paced but still heavy & keeping that ferocious sound straight into the title track “Lawless To Grave”.
This track is where I feel Purgatory laid their cards on the table and went all in.
Featuring every sound from track previous tracks, the heaviness of death metal, pissed off hardcore & even some great thrash vibes this is Purgatory’s magnum opus.
The sound of years of songwriting, anger & perseverance. This is the best track Purgatory have written & a perfect way to end a brilliant & unwinding album.
“Lawless To Grave” is a true hardcore gem. Mixing this many influences isn’t easy but Purgatory can do it with ease, no bull & create an album that will stand up amongst their peers.
If you like heavy pissed of hardcore. Then you won’t be disappointed.
Lawless To The Grave is out now via Unbeaten Records.