“The greatest metal band you probably never heard of!” is a line from one of Puritan Slain’s bios around the web but with the release of their new album A Matter Of Life And Death they will soon have to amend and remove the word ‘never’. Their second album is a powerhouse of riffs, metal sounds, impressive melodies, and intense emotions. It is also an evolution on their debut which in itself notably attention worthy, but A Matter Of Life And Death brings a more refined approach from the songwriting and music through to the delivery and production. This is a band comfortable with their sound and now ready to explore and expand it, which they do on this new release with quality.
Puritan Slain has been throwing out their style of thrash metal since 2006 from the Isle of Wight, UK, not the easiest of bases for any band to grow from and meaning even more emphasis of creating a sound to take them across the surrounding water is needed. Simply finding gigs to play is hard thus gauging feedback on new material difficult, but hard work and belief has led the quintet to the release of what is destined to be in numerous top ten albums lists for 2011.
Recorded at the Agile Studios in the Isle Of Wight, and produced by the band and Jason Paine, A Matter Of Life And Death is a journey of the psyche, a harrowing journey through the darkness of the mind and emotions, leaving the listener to contemplate more than just the music they heard. From the opening of the curtain of sound from first track ‘ITL.I’ through to the closing epitaph of ‘ITL.II’ every corner of the mind and dark feelings are explored and laid out exposed.
The consistency is very impressive across the album and rare to find in the majority of releases currently coming out. The defiant trash punk of ‘Rebellious’, ‘Obsession’ carrying a disturbing dark feel that is hard to shake off, and the pulsating and imposing riff laden ‘Determination’, are just three examples of the immense flowing intensity within the album. The rhythm section of Matthew Wade, driving each track hard with his formidable drumming, and the addictive bass lines of ‘riffmaster’ Darron Murrant create a web of sound that allows the three guitar attack of Ben Smith, Shaun Reed, and vocalist James ‘The Bagz’ to weave their metallic magic. Track after track working through a tortured soul the album menacingly shines. One never feels comfortable but loves every moment.
Though tagged as thrash metal the band offers much more, flavours recalling the likes of Metallica, Slayer, In Flames, Exodus and Municipal Waste are apparent but mere suggestions as the sound is solely Puritan Slain. No one else is creating tracks like the oppressive stalking beast that is ‘Fear’, or the sorrowful and deeply emotive sound of ‘Regret’; add the epic and music creativity of ‘Loss’, where as on most tracks the guitars weave some wonderful and at times unexpected sounds even occasionally skimming the edges of prog rock, as well as the harrowing and desperation fuelled ‘Death’, and the package is a complete vision and realisation of metal at its best.
For all the greatness within A Matter Of Life And Death there is one track that stands out as the destined marker for the band and what is easily the track of the year which is hard to imagine being surpassed. ‘Madness’ is perfection, the riffs come thick and fast like an aggravated giant wasp drilling away in the brain as James expels the all consuming oppressive mental maelstrom and destructive bedlam. It is simple, effective and perfection; this is what the word genius was invented for.
A Matter Of Life And Death is an essential listen for all metal fans and Puritan Slain their new favourite band; with quality of this level it is hard to see any other outcome. For proof of that statement just take that first step and go take a listen, start with ‘Madness’ and you will be one of their rapidly growing legions within the blink of a twitching eye.
Pete RingMaster 27/06/2011