PURGATORY - Purgatory
January 16, 2019, a month ago
Not to be confused with the Cleveland band on Auburn Records, who released the classic ‘80s album, Tied To The Trax, no, this is a 5-song EP, reworking material from Iced Earth mainman, Jon Schaffer's Florida/Indiana based precursor (who had to change their moniker to Iced Earth, due to the Ohio outfit). Rather than some moldy old tape, Schaffer recorded the tunes (written between '85 & '87) with both original guitarist and singer (Gene Adam, who also appeared on the Iced Earth debut), using modern technology. More than the performance, sheds light into Schaffer's mindset, circa Horror Show, i.e. mining old ideas (horror movie protagonists), at such a critical juncture in the band's history: first post-Something Wicked studio release.
Music box tinkling on “In Your Dreams” opener, quickly gives way to an aggressive ode to Nightmare On Elm Street villain Freddy Krueger. While the lyrics are rudimentary, musical construct demonstrates the eventual Iced Earth trademark of switching dynamics: intense to serene, punctuated by guitar break. This one has a real Mercyful Fate atmosphere about this one. Although Horror Show also featured a track entitled “Dracula”, there's no lyrical connection between the two. In fact, while the demo inclusion repeatedly mentions the titular creature by name, the superior, Matt Barlow sung cut avoids any appellation. This one (paradoxically, given the time differential) comes off like a Ghost outtake. The only real similarity (apart from the title) is having a restrained, electrified acoustic intro and a guitar break four-fifths of the way through. Nice touch, incorporating the telltale music, from the stalking scenes in all the Friday the 13th movies (a play on device used in Hitchcock's Psycho), to begin “In Jason's Mind”, a paean to Mr. Voorhees, another hot property of the mid-‘80s. Granted, the work of a kid, compared to later (burnt) offerings, but “Jack”, another re-appropriated title (although still dealing with England's notorious Ripper) lacks the creativity found on the Horror Show version. Here, Schaffer preferred to use children's nursery rhythms/poems like Jack Be Nimble and Lizzy Borden Took An Axe, for both meter and lyrical inspiration. “Burning Oasis” finale (not the song on Burnt Offerings) would be the only direct link to the Iced Earth we all know and love today. First off, plenty of ear candy, with crackle of fire, tolling church bells. Then there's the brooding, 1+ minute introduction, before launching into the song proper. The word choices are also a step up, not wearing their meanings so blatantly on their sleeve. Interesting glimpse into the past, but of little “value” moving forward. More stuff like Incorruptible please & soon!