On the eighth of June PurEnvy, the Newcastle Metal powerhouse released their second album entitled Redemption. Subsequently, they had a launch of the album at The Small Ballroom in Islington and I turned up to check them out, have a chat with the boys and to provide a review of the album on the back of a number of listens this week.
Newcastle has always had a metal community and this began around the mid 1980’s. It has gone through a number of incantations but has always stayed strong. The scene isn’t as huge as Sydney or Melbourne, but for those who have been to gigs in “the steel city,” they know that it is just as passionate and committed. So where does PurEnvy fit into this history and today’s scene? The band’s collective experience would surpass a half century and various members have been around the scene for some time. Presently they are definitely a top of the scene and are seen by the “Newy diehards” as the staple.
The band have quite a modern sound that, and please humour me with the contradiction, is heavily rooted within the old school and classic metal. What first struck me about this band is its sincerity and no rubbish approach. There are no bells and whistles, no smoke and mirrors, and definitely no ego. They are four blokes who love heavy metal and have the drive and passion to produce their own slice of the metal soundscape. PurEnvy’s ability to produce driving riffage, guitar harmony interludes, mixed with a driving rhythm section, topped off with both a melodic and heavy vocal, is a tribute to their musicianship, but also, and more importantly, their chemistry.
So to the new album, Redemption. It is a big step up from the debut, but is not foreign to it, in songwriting and structure. The initial impression is the amazing production. The band has really ensured that their latest product not only has the quality of song to compete on the main stage, but they have also produced a sounding album that can stand alongside anything out there presently. My first few listens took me to the realm of Trivium, with both song structure and intensity. However, Adam Keifel’s vocal phrasing is very different To Matt and he has a real Australian flavour to his vocals, and this is refreshing and unique. Zac Swan on drums is a very accomplished percussionist and this isn’t really based upon a deconstruction of any one track, his performance is solid throughout. Guitar-wise, the harmonies and darkness and light that both Adam (Keifel) and Josip MalKoc have produced on this album, not only keeps the songs interesting, but also takes the imagery to another level. Dave Lewsam is a very experienced bass player, in the studio, live and with a beer in his hand. I first actually saw Dave play at Jesmond Neighbourhood centre in 1989, playing Metallica and Motorhead covers, and I knew then he was a great musician. His performance is solid on the album and the synergy between him and Adam (Swan) keeps the album moving and the intensity high. Songs that really stand out for me are ‘Deception’, ‘Redemption’, ‘Embodied by Dust’ and ‘End of All Days’. Look if you haven’t had the opportunity to check these guys out, this album is definitely worth the coin, I can’t see any metal head not impressed with the music within.
Before the guys set tonight I sat down and had a brief chat.
Now that Redemption is complete and about to be released, how do you guys see the album?
“In a box! Hopefully in people’s hands actually. Look we are happy with it, and it sounds like us, and we have captured who we are. And you know this was important to us and we are stoked that it has come up the way we needed it to.”
It has been a long time in the making, how long did it actually take?
“The project took too fucking long. It was two years in the making. We actually lost track, let’s say one year. We wanted to get it right, and so we spent our time to make sure we were happy with the album. We spent the extra time to nail the extra bits and make sure it was ready. We can walk away from it and listen to it and we are happy with it, and that’s important and the real reason for the time it took to complete.”
Can you tell me a little bit about how you guys write and arrange your songs?
“We usually turn up to a rehearsal with a riff and jam it out and take it from there. The arrangements change a lot over time as we develop and mould the song in to what we want it to be. The songs on the album have changed so much since the initial jams. It is a process really, and we have to see that process through to complete a track. We just get in the room and jam out the riffs, and after a few rehearsals we have a new song. After this, the melody and the lyrics come together. We get a draft of the lyrics together and then go back through it till complete. We practice them a lot before they see the light of day live.”
How did you come across Jacob Hanson, and without stating the obvious, why was he the man for the project?
“Good question. We like the sounds that he has achieved with other bands, and of course, his reputation. We wanted to do this album properly. We needed to get a sound that we wanted, and we knew we had to invest in this. He has really brought out our sound. Jacob’s name came up after guy I knew on Facebook was complaining that he was losing a lot of work to him. So we checked him out, and some other Aussie bands used him, and you know he is one of the top three engineers in the world. We also see our music with that European flavour, and we knew that he would understand it and connect with it. He was really easy to work with too, and he communicated well over the email, it was a good experience all round.”
Tonight the album is launched, but what is the next twelve months like for PurEnvy?
“We have already started writing for the next one, and we don’t want to take this long to release another album. We also want to get known more outside of Sydney and Newcastle, and also to get bigger in these centres. We would love to have some of the more major international supports that are going around at the moment too, and I think that this would really help us out, and get to the next level.”
Now to the set, and the band have definitely come to play tonight, and equally, the Newy stronghold had come to listen! The band are now playing with a confidence and a drive that matches both their ability and commitment.
They have really become a tight live unit and the band are really enjoying playing live more than any other time in their history. Tonight they blasted a number of tunes from Redemption, including ‘Deception’, ‘Redemption’ and ‘End of Days’ and all of them went over well live. It was only a short set tonight because the boys were supporting Lagerstein on their east coast tour but they did Redemption proud. As a Novocastrian Metal Head myself, I am proud to say that PurEnvy are from our home soil and I will be following, and watching, to see where the band take their career.
Feature by Mark Snedden