Review by Noor Palza Baeza.
Purest of Pain is a modern death metal band formed by Merel Bechtold (also known for Delain, MaYaN and The Gentle Storm) back in 2008. Ducht quintet characterizes themself by its melodic, atmospheric, yet brutal songs.
The band is composed by Jesper de Kruyff on vocals, Merel Bechtold on lead guitar, Michael van Eck on rhythm guitar, Frank van Leeuwen on bass, and Joey de Boer on drums.
Purest of Pain announced that on March 1st of this year the album “Solipsis” will be released, for which a successful online crowdfunding campaign was held on Indiegogo to raise the capital and make this record as organic as possible.
Being a Do-It-Yourself band is both challenging and rewarding these days, especially when it comes to the financial end. Purest of Pain worked so hard to achieve this purpose and played so many shows for such a low fee that it took seven years to have the financial budget together.
During that process it has had its ups and downs, but they was hell-bent to get this album done and released. I think after spending so much time working on one album you are definitely going to have some great material and this is the case here. They have also decided to self-release this album on their own label Sick Records, so this is Purest of Pain’s project through and through.
There are fourteen very different songs on the album and the main thing has always been Scandinavian melodic death metal. Thanks to the current line-up, songs, drums, bass and guitar sound, style of guitar solo’s&leads, vocals, mix and master the music evolved to a new and refreshing modern version of the old Swedish metal. Also they used the best musical gear you could ever think of thanks to friends and endorsers of the band.
“The Programatic” is the intro that starts the album. It’s one minute and almost twenty seconds of a melodic environment created by instruments in a tenuous way, and it is the voice of J.D. Kaye who gives the touch preparing you for what will come in the next thirteen songs. “Thruth-Seeker” is the second track on the album, which has as many instrumental parts as there are vocals. From the moment the song starts, you can feel the way that traps you in the atmosphere that the band want to reflect. The sound is hard, but very easy and enjoyable to listen to.
The next song is “Vessels”. This song is a lot more direct melodic death metal, but you still have the guitar riffs in the background during the vocals that keeps it interesting. In this song, you can really hear when J.D. Kaye throws his vocal gutturals to a higher pitch, which really makes his voice stand out. This song is not even three minutes long, but feels much longer when you listen to it because it’s done so well. “Crown of Worms” is a track that also stands out on this album. We have another great guitar solo by Merel in this song, the solos are really energetic, and they give even a little touch of Groove’s atmosphere to a few parts of the song. What we found here, is another very blowmind melodic melody, but it just sounds great and at the same time, brutal.
“Momentum” begins with a very calm guitar trying to give us a very peaceful environment, to position ourselves into a very technical death metal to the bone. I really love the solos of this song, they reminded me a lot of Amaran, on their song “Karma in Flesh”.”The Sleep of Reason” is a song that lasts no more than a minute and a half and is loaded with feeling and a very nice technicality when listening.
“Tidebreaker” is one of the songs that has the most sticky chorus of the whole album, Jesper’s voice continues to be pleasant throughout the entired song, it’s not scratchy and between riffs and guitar solos it captivates you from start to the end. “Trial & Error” is full of energy, with a very technical and marked drumm. I really do not know how to describe the atmosphere of this album, but you really feel it here. The sound continues to be hard, but it’s still very nice to hear.
“Terra Nil” is what’s next, and also is the first single that has been released to promote this álbum. This track is featured with Sam C.A. There is so much going on in this song, it is like a festival for the ears. There is all sorts of guitar riffs and sounds that make it very interesting to listen to. In the middle part of the song there is a long instrumental section that is very well composed. It definitely has its own unique sound and feel to it. After that the song really picks up pace and has a real in your face feeling leading into a well done guitar solo by Merel. The song slowly fades out as the music continues to consume you. This song is definitely worthy of being the first single. You can listen to the song below.
In the song “Noctambulist“, as well as in “Terra Nil”, you can really hear when Kaye kicks his growling vocals into a higher pitch. It is a theme that has a good mix of changes both in how the melody goes ascending becoming more energetic, or when it descends transforming into something more harmonious and subtle. The guitar really takes you by the hand along with Kaye’s voice. The guitar solos in this song are pretty good, and as I said, you can never have too many guitar solos.
“E.M.D.R“. Is a very very interesting song and was written by guitarist Michael van Eck. In parts it sounds like a basic metal song. I even hear a little of what some of the 80s pioneers in thrash metal sounded like a little bit. The song in parts has a crazy beat to it and powerfull, that leads to another solid guitar solo. This song to me is very unique to the album, but sill works with the overall flow. It is really a great song all-around and one I really enjoy listening to.
“Phantom Limb” and “The Solopsist” are great songs into the album. I should also mention the great drumming through the whole album by Joey de Boer. I think in death metal it is imperative to have a very good drummer to keep that crazy beat going and Joey nails it on this album.
“The End” is the song that will be responsible for closing this album. Start with a guitar that is very appeased, I think it is the perfect choice to finish filling the feeling that was wanted to be delivered and materialize in this album the band. I feel this isthe modern, melodic, Scandinavian, and death metal version of Alcest, permeating a medley of feelings in the listeners.
Musically this whole album is fantastic. Merel’s work on putting together the arrangements and the high quality of the recordings is impressive. Kaye’s vocals even though done in the growling style, still have some range and a different variance in his voice to keep it very engaging (that’s, because I’m not really a guttural fan, but J.D. Kaye’s voice is quite nice). I was not sure what to think about how it would be to listen to Merel in his melodic death metal band, since when she was in Chile, I saw her facet as a guitarist for Delain and another type of metal.
The truth is that it ends up being a great ride and a great album to listen to. Among my tastes, death metal does not figure at all, I highly recommend picking this album up and giving it a listen. I think it will surprise pleasantly to whoever hears it, the musical work achieved in “Solipsis” is really great.
They used REVV for rhythm/lead sound, ENGL for grunge/lead, Mesa Boogie for solo’s/leads. Strymon pedals for ambient and lead guitars, Koch cab, vanderMeij, Bo-El and Aristides guitars, Dingwall bass guitar with a dark glass pedal. There are no synths/samples on this album. If you think you hear a choir it are probably layers of guitars with a ‘shimmer’ sound, if you think you hear a horror sound it’s probably a guitar with an EBO doing weird things. There has been limited editing to the drum fills and because of that they have a natural flow. The guitars are double tracked to get the old school sound and some are also recorded with a different guitar pick or a coin to get new sounds. Even there were limited studio days they spend the maximum amount of time to finish the album into the details.
1. The Pragmatic.
4. Crown of Worms.
6. The Sleep of Reason.
8. Trial & Error.
9. Terra Nil.
12. Phantom Limb.
13. The Solopsist.
J.D. Kaye (vocals),
Merel Bechtold (guitar),
Michael van Eck (guitar),
Frank van Leeuwen (bass), y
Joey de Boer (drums).