Jon Schaffer – Purgatory review

If you like metal, especially 80’s metal and 80’s horror movies you are in for a treat! 8.5/10In 1985, guitarist and songwriter Jon Schaffer formed Purgatory, which metamorphosed into Iced Earth in 1988. Shaffer has remained the only constant throughout the history of Iced Earth and he has reunited with the original Purgatory lineup after in excess of 25 years to record a series of five tracks which were written between 1985 and 1987. Produced and mixed by Jon Schaffer and Jim Morris, this work perfectly captures that mid to late 80’s vibe and will delight both fans of Iced Earth and newcomers equally. Although fans of the Horror Show album, may be more delighted than most. There is a strong theme running through this EP and perhaps it would have generated greater interest had it dropped in time for Halloween, but there are many for whom it’s not just a date, but a state of mind! The clues are present on the superb album artwork cover artwork by David Newman Stump and Roy Young, responsible for the art for Iced Earth‘s latest album Incorruptible.

“Purgatory” is dedicated to Richard Bateman, the band’s original bass player, who passed away right before the EP went into production. Rest in peace, Richard. 

In Your Dreams in your dreams opens with what seems to be the magical, twinkly bell-like sound of a celesta (if you’ve seen Fantasia The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, probably in a number of festive adverts or the Nutcracker suite by Tchaikovsky). Then in come guitars and salvation! This isn’t classical music, but it is classic heavy metal! What’s more it’s based on a certain stripy sweatered, finger-knifed nightmare! The production is slightly old school which adds to the vintage appeal and quite frankly it’s a little cheesy, but it’s delicious and a great track. The musicianship is fantastic, the song structure is strong, with tempo changes and is never obvious.

Dracula comes in at more of a gallop in an Iron Maiden vein, complete with soaring vocals and passion from Gene Adam. The opening guitar work reminds me a little of Breadfan (Budgie- the mellow middle bit) while later there are some great Iced Earth riffs This is not the previously released Dracula, but you can listen to this, their first release from the new EP here

In Jason’s Mind is dedicated to Jason Voorhees and it’s fast and heavy with a sense of urgency. Close your eyes and visualise running breathless in a dark wood, with a hockey-masked madman in close pursuit!

Jack is an ode to that mysterious Victorian serial killer and it is a darkly upbeat romp with delicious guitar work and a chorus reminiscent of a nursery rhyme from nightmares. Burning Oasis is the closing track and quite possibly my favourite. It is not the track from Burnt Offerings, this is better! Heavy and a little sleazy before becoming more thrashy with a mildly proggy breakdown and a wailing solo with awesome percussion. What an end, I’m hungry for more.

Accomplished, great fun and a wonderful introduction to the works of Jon Shaffer for the uninitiated. If you like metal, especially 80’s metal and 80’s horror movies you are in for a treat!

The Purgatory EP will be available 21/12/ 2018 and can be pre-ordered here

“Purgatory” Tracklist:

  1. In Your Dreams
  2. Dracula
  3. In Jason’s Mind
  4. Jack
  5. Burning Oasis

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