Review Summary: An album that effortlessly clears the table of many metalcore competitors.
It's not very often that a band can create such a holistically well made musical effort within the course of only three songs. One of those songs is even a remake! Prayer for Cleansing proves it can be done. They painstakingly shape a metalcore scene that we still have today and their hard work pays off immensely. The only other band in metalcore that has done the honors of christening the genre with a simple EP would be Hopesfall with their release of "No Wings to Speak Of," released around the same time. Though not a lot of valid parallels can be drawn to compare the bands' sound, they both had a very strong sense of originality. However, Prayer for Cleansing had more intensity to their sound. Their music has a more skillful way of blending genres like melodic death metal, hardcore punk, and thrash. Almost effortlessly, they manage to show off all of these elements of in a short and sweet package.
"The Closet" opens with a few stray guitar notes that initiate a build-up to something. Then, a breakdown comes through. With its tight guitar-drum synchronization, it sounds like a run-of-the-mill rhythm that could be found in any metalcore/post-hardcore song today. Remembering that the album was made in the early 2000s is a bit of a shock. Though breakdowns were very much alive in other forms of heavy music around the time of the release of "The Tragedy," the sheer boldness of presenting a breakdown with such heaviness as a central rhythm seems out of place for the time. Prayer for Cleansing's trailblazing tendencies only get stronger from this point on. The opening track jumps from influence to influence but never stutters in its approach. The song is fairly short in length but it leaves me satisfied every time because of how proficiently it achieves its goal: to be as brutal, yet enjoyable, as possible. "When the Sun Kisses the Morning" has to be one of my favorite metalcore songs of all time. The persistent heaviness of it all without becoming too overbearing and refusing to stay in one place for too long while maintaining consistency is pure genius. The melodic death metal influence is what dominates the track. It ventures into territory that is much like that of At the Gates. Paired with David Anthem's vocal delivery that sounds much like Tomas Lindberg himself, it seems close to a bull's-eye. Will Goodyear's drumming deftly switches from straightforward, Gothenberg flavored rhythms to bone-crushing breakdowns to create a well executed backbone to the piece. The riffs, offered by guitarists Paul Waggonner and Tommy Rogers (both now in the progressive metal band Between the Buried and Me), shift from technical fret-fests to muted chugging in all the right spots. "Salvation" is a fun end to all of the fairly straight-faced and focused tunes. It is a cover of the song by The Cranberries of the same name and puts the band's straight edge beliefs out for all to hear of. This song bears the most punk influence out of them all and the energy holds the entire song together. Their straight edge beliefs are displayed shamelessly, but not aggressively. The sing-along chorus makes the song more of an anthem than anything else. The song ends with a mosh-worthy breakdown and, thus, the EP comes to a satiating close.
The variety must be admired in all of Prayer for Cleansing's material. It pushes them that much further up the ladder above their competitors with each step. This three track collection displays the best of what they had to offer in the short time they existed together as a band. All of the heavy and melodic parts work together in harmony to churn out an intelligently designed listening experience. It's hard to find such well-crafted metalcore in such a small dose, and these guys nailed it.