The calmly nihilistic zeitgeist of the underground death metal introvert might appear self-conscious, unduly anonymous, or even mildly crazed to the outsider looking in but the ‘point’ of this recession of ego is always for the sake of either art or self-preservation. There is some due absurdity in speaking for an album that is by definition extreme, powerfully shouted, and ruthlessly idealistic in its morbid fascination. Québec, Canada based ‘brutal’ death/doom metal band Paladin are an act after my own soul as they’ve approached quietly out of nowhere and landed a raw and spastic haul of ‘classic’ death/doom sound inspired by the darkest greats of the fused sub-genre. Are they old greats who’d descended from the hidden old school of French Canadian death metal? Actually, the founding member Louis (aka Napalm Holocaust) has had some decent success with his thrash metal band Survival Instinct which shares members with Outre-Tombe‘s guitarist and fellowes in deathcrust band Crasse de Marde but by no means is this some supergroup side project, rather a calling for the love of slow, brutal and sadistic death/doom metal. Paladin‘s debut, ‘Purification du Mal’, is a sharp and impactful study of classic underground death metal and the small niche of minimalistic doom that’d form beneath it.
What am I talking about? Paladin are fairly upfront about their influences and the real impetus of the project’s initial songwriting would be a need to create a side-project that’d feature slower pace, to relieve from the ‘always on’ aggression of Survival Instinct. Finnish death metal barbarians Rippikoulu and their infamous demos serve as the primary inspiration for ‘Purification du Mal’ alongside Autopsy and the simplicity of the first half of the decade boon of Incantation-esque ‘cavern core’. This translates in a few meaningful ways, first there is certainly a clear semblance of Rippikoulu‘s second demo ‘Musta Seremonia’ but most of the album focuses on the brutality of that sound rather than the faster pacing of ‘Mutaation Aiheuttama Sisäinen Mätäneminen’ which can be heard on parts of the title track. The dark spirit of the music is there and the vocals from Louis are clearly meant to invoke that rabid roar of Anssi Kartela. With that said it wouldn’t be fair to suggest Paladin have created a facsimile or anything other than a meritorious full-length debut. Shades of early Cianide connect willingly with some of the raw discord and pacing of Sororicide‘s ‘The Entity’ across the span of the full listen but there is yet more to Paladin‘s sound than picking the bones of the auld niche.
‘Purification du Mal’ is meant to be a compulsion for the ailing spirit through the subversive embodiment of the oppressor, dulling the impact of their unregulated power upon the safety (and questionable sanity) of the upper class individual. This narrative continuity, however vague it can be at times, creates an over-arching concept focusing on religion as an evil force for the history of men; As an interesting twist the theme arrives largely from the perspective of a corrupted holy crusader. You’ll more than likely be compelled to visit with the lyrics/prose if you can read French but the most necessary focus here comes with the simpler, heavy hitting guitar work of the piece. As typical as Paladin appear in their simpler form they do work outside of the typical primitive death/doom range more often than expected. There is some triumph in modeling a sound after some very broken and beaten underground music and succeeding while allowing enough room to create a distinct voice beyond semblance of demos and occult death attacks is something fans of recent Mortiferum, Spectral Voice, and Desecresy records will undoubtedly understand well. This is typically faster paced, though.
There are more than a few standout tracks to consider but in the space of a full listen a lot of these songs Paladin included will tend to blur together due to their no frills approach. “Paysans Impies” brings some faster paced moments we’d not yet heard from from Paladin yet, and as it turns out they’re quite good at the speedier stuff. “Brûle” keeps a mid-paced clip while bringing some of my favorite riffs (and drumming) of the album. Finally the title track (“Purification du Mal”) is exactly the sort of crazed beast I’d been looking for when previewing the record. There isn’t much more to rag on about because for all of the scrambling I could do to describe it Paladin‘s ‘Purification du Mal’ does speak very well for itself as a solid doomed death metal record. Moderately high recommendation. For preview purposes I’d suggest starting with the real barn-burning ‘Soulside Journey’ sized glory of “L’Ordre Suprême” and then “L’emprise de la Chair” to see what they can do when slinking below a mid-pace.
On the way to the end. 3.75/5.0
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