Review Summary: A whirlwind of rage and steel, Persuader attacks and takes no prisoners.
Swedish power metal act Persuader made their first mark with their 2000 debut “The Hunt”. The album itself is a stunning display of technicality and intensity, while also showing the band’s talent of creating memorable song with great hooks and replay value. The songs carried the identity of power metal yet at the same time avoided all the traps and clichés that other band in the genre are so often fell into. Combining the galloping riffing of classic Iron Maiden and the speed metal aesthetics of early Blind Guardian, their sound was anything but cheesy. The question is how can you follow up an album like this? Four years later the band arrived with the answer: Going faster, rawer and rougher. “Evolution Purgatory” not only avoids the sophomore slump but it has a big shot of being one of the finest metal records of its decade.
More than ten seconds into the opening song “Strike Down”, it becomes undoubtable that Persuader has stepped up their game when it comes to heaviness. The furious, almost thrash metal like guitarwork and sound instantly remained me of Iced Earth and I’m sure many other will make the exact same comparison. Interestingly the opener itself pretty much sets up the dynamic that most songs on the album build themselves up: Intense pacing during the verses, with melodic choruses that reminds us, were still in the power metal territory. The two axeman Jens Carlsson and Emil Nodberg serve one majestic riff after another with shredding solos while Efraim Juntunen pounds the drums relentlessly. Carlsson also handles the vocals, and even though his voice sounds eerily close to Blind Guardian’s Hansi Kürsch, he has a more aggressive delivery (with snarls and shrieks) that fits perfectly to the albums harsher sound.
However “Evolution Purgatory” is not just all about mindless speed. Songs like “Godfather” and “Raise Hell” have a much more controlled, mid-tempo like structure and they are also a great display for the band’s ability in writing songs with great hooks. Keyboards are usually a key instrument in power metal, but in this album their role is surprisingly minimalized, as the lead role are given to the guitars. When they appear (like “Masquerade” or in the chorus of “Passion, Pain”) they are used to build atmosphere and create a sharp but functioning contrast to the biting riffs. The rest of the album pulls no punches as well, “Turn to Dust” and “Fire at Will” are also perfect examples of the sheer energy and high-level musicianship that the band constantly displays on this albums. Also by clocking between 3-5 minutes nearly every song on this album is focused, tight and devoid of any excess or needless repetition.
With their first album Persuader has already proven themselves to be a band not only to reckon with, but already developing a sound of their own. With “Evolution Purgatory” they took the next step and evolved into a group that deserves praise as any other in metal. Like Iced Earth or Helstar they present a perfect, harmonic blend of power and thrash metal, proving that with passion, creativity and having a knack for consistent songwriting, the genre can always sound just as fresh and awesome as it did in the 1980’s.