A Plea For Purging

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Written by: BL on 07/02/2011 23:09:58

The last A Plea For Purging album "Depravity" was a rather pleasant and a tiny bit more gutsy metalcore album than most of their comtemporaries in the same scene. There were some great moments of musicianship in the form of shredding guitars and complex rhythms, and lots of cool leads and solos. Some problems with it though included songs that too often had no direction and had too many changes in sections to make any cohesive sense, there were too many repetitive breakdowns too for another thing. So come the new album "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" and I was cautious to hear if A Plea For Purging would be able to work out those nagging flaws to solidy an album that could bring a storm to a mostly stagnant genre.

Well first if you came in expecting to have an album that sounds anything like "Depravity" you might be in for a surprise. From a purely technical standpoint, A Plea For Purging have really toned down the extravagant technical lead guitar play that dominated their sound previously. Everything will seem a lot more simple if you take a very quick sneak skim through it, though you'd realise you were mistaken once you take the time to hear the record in full. "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" is a superior and more complete album than anything this band has done. By taking some of what they have done already and throwing in more steady rock solid progressions, as well as more thoughtful use of ambience and dissonant guitars, they have crafted this part eerie, part melodic, and part devastingly crushing album that is engaging as it is compelling. Instead of hyper melodic lead guitars, we have far more of those complicated bordering convoluted Meshuggah-esque rhythms that grind everything to a pulp. However despite the new heaviness present, it's not done in a dumb and brutish way with just breakdowns and chugging either, but with careful placement of ambient melodies and harsh dissonance that is haunting as it does give a sense of complete desolation. Lead vocalist/screamer Andy perhaps has had the least change, but now sounds much of a complement to the music than before in this regard with his raspy growls.

While opener "The Eternal Female" certainly plays a little flat and is only lukewarm in it's ability to captivate without having to use one too many breakdowns, "Sick Silent America" is the first testament to their new sound with barrages of hard and gnarly low riffs, then coupling a pseudo melodic chorus segment with cool screeching and piercing guitar sounds to give the impression like waking up in a nightmare. "Shiver" has much more of a jarring sound, some chaotic aggression only tempered by a flowing but devilish guitar lead that sears like a hot iron. "Golden Barriers" follows the established themes well to an extent, adding one moment of otherworldly sounding instrumentation amongst the symphony of breakdowns. When we get to "The Fall", A Plea For Purging surprises everybody by introducing some clean vocals from Ryan Blake Martin the guitarist during the chorus. It comes completely out of the blue and brings a far more human element to contrast the more mechanical sounding heavy phrases elsewhere. From here this new more subtle use of melody never completely disappears, making brief appearances in more clean vocals in "And Weep", the slightly menacing but slightly chug heavy "Trembling Hands", a slightly more upbeat sounding chorus in "Finite" and the surprisingly calm yet uncheesy ballad "The Jealous Wings". A song like the latter is as big a statement of how far the band has progressed as anything else new. Finally it all comes together and to an end on "The New Born Wonder" that takes all the best parts of the album, the atmosphere, the bleak sounds, and the hard hitting grooves and throws it together for one last ride.

A Plea For Purging have seemed to have sorted their problems with flow and cohesion from "Depravity", their sound is much more solid and defined if not less all over the place. That and they certainly have that organic, machine like heaviness down pretty well I would say as well. The occasional song still has a bit too much of a chugging sound without all the substance, but again overall even that has been improved to a certain degree compared to before. A Plea For Purging haven't quite reinvented anything genre-wise and even though they might not sound trendy, have put a nice spin on what would have been traditionally a pretty unappealing metalcore affair. "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" is worth checking out if you like something a bit heavier and darker.

Download: Sick Silent America, The Fall, The New Born Wonder
For the fans of: Meshuggah, For Today, Ion Dissonance
Listen: Myspace

Facedown Records

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