Review Summary: The best vocals always sound like "SHUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU".
The problem with funeral doom is its tendency to be rather histrionic. Whether by way of overly clear production, romanticized chants and lead melodies, or excruciatingly tedious song lengths, the crushing implications of a subgenre with a name like "funeral doom" rarely leave up to the mundane reality of its practitioners. And then there's Absum.
The first thing you'll notice in Purgatoire is the suffocating mesh of guitars and bass into a constant fuzz. This background drone is so oppressive that you can envision every cymbal crash and every guttural roar fight for dear life to be heard, only to be drowned continuously in the mire of guitar buzz. The only aspect of the music that isn't smothered by distortion is the occasional lead line, typically simplistic and yet evocative of the primal despair that Purgatoire leaves you with. Once you get past the incredibly raw and murky production, the gloomy guitar swells stand above every other aspect of this album.
As individual tracks, the songs of Purgatoire each focus on a different element of Absum's sound. I sets the atmosphere of the album as a chaotic, homogenous guitar-dirge, whereas II brings out the subtleties of Absum's bite-sized Sunn 0)))-esque guitar-and-bass interplay. III and IV finally give room for the drums and the vocals, respectively, to breathe (or suffocate), with III being lead by constant crashes and a louder mixing for the drums, and IV seeing Yagian bellow, chant, and even shriek for a bit, which is in stark contrast to his sparse gutturals featured in the previous three songs. And while the constant atmosphere supplied by the feedback lends toward this album feeling like one composite piece, the brief (for funeral doom standards) song lengths and somewhat-different instrumental elements between these four songs allows each to be enjoyable as standalone songs.
While Purgatoire may not be as strong as Absum's contributions to Odour of Dust and Rot, nor even close to the grand scope of the untitled Rhinocervs projects that Yagian is supposedly a key contributor to, this short-not-sweet fusion of funereal despair, primitive playing, and necro atmosphere, all condensed into four tracks under six minutes, might just make Purgatoire the most accessible funeral doom and kvlt-production album I've heard yet.