In the three years since releasing their debut full-length Conure The Dead, Purge have made a name for themselves in the West Coast deathcore, downtempo and beatdown scenes. The record compared to the likes of Black Tongue and fellow LA heavy-weights King with its occultist themes and hair-raising atmosphere, but their latest release drifts away from these theatrics in favor of a more direct, personally inspired approach. Damage Control sees the band keep to their low-and-slow, while streamlining their approach to a visceral effect.
The ironically titled "Lost in Thought" wastes no time in hitting listeners with a disgustingly heavy fight riff. Purge have never sounded more aggressive and pissed off than this, which is in part due to the guy behind the mixing board. Cameron Marygold is on his way to acquiring the Midas touch of downtempo production—everything he produces sounds absolutely massive, and Damage Control is no different. Jonathan Salazar's battering grooves drive home every chug, scrape and drop, while Brandon Gordon delivers his most riviting vocal performances to date.
With only half of these six tracks cracking the three-minute mark, Damage Control is Purge at their most primal and and uncompromising. Still, the band adds plenty of variety in this minimalist context. "Backstabber" uses escalating rhythm changes to divert the song away from its thug-and-chug foundation, while a clean guitar lead gives its mid-section an extra dose of tension before seismic breakdowns give end give it a slugfest ending. While anyone with familiarity with Traitors and Spite won't hear anything terribly ground-breaking here, the band's approach is hard to ignore with so much energy and anger going for it. As "Lying Eyes" exemplifies, these guys know how to balance slow motion nu deathcore with traditional hardcore riffage, allowing some variety to shine in between ultra-violent crowd-kill anthems.
"Deceive // Naive" and "Peace in Pieces" emphasize how Gordon's guttural growls have improved over the past three years, along with his lyrics. The former comes as a cautionary tail of subjecting oneself to betrayal through unquestioning trust, while the latter comes as a venomous condemnation of a fake friend – much more relatable and personal than previous themes of demonic possession and misanthropy. When coupled with a more powerful guttural style. "I want to see you rot at rock bottom, motherfucker," he doesn't just sound pissed. His words come packed with convincing emotion, and it pays off in spades on this EP. His matter-of-fact delivery matches the simplified musical approach, making for a succinct, powerful listen.
Damage Control closes with its title track, combining every memorable aspect of this album. Staccato guitar stabs guide nasty beatdown grooves, while well-placed pinch harmonics and scrapes add more flash to the bash. Salazar provides the only full-on blast beat section on the, showing that Purge isn't one to dump everything possible into all of their songs. They write intentionally, allowing the emotions of each song to drive them. With vulnerable lyrics, a massive sound and compelling chops, Purge once again prove their worth in the downtempo/beatdown scene.
BOTTOM LINE: Purge have never been particularly concerned with experimenting with downtempo conventions, but this EP proves that they don't need to as long as they keep writing solid songs. Damage Control sees the band take a chancy by going even more raw and simplistic, relying on their songwriting chops to win the day. The results won't necessarily wow downtempo veterans, but it's a hell of an album for any fan of that style.
STANDOUT TRACK: “Peace in Pieces”
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