Purson make vintage doom magic with incredible ‘The Circle and the Blue Door’

Ester Segarra
When I was growing up, I thought for certain that by the era we’re in now, there would be time machines. Of course, when you’re a kid you think of lots of stupid things that have no basis in logic or fact, but I was convinced that by the time I was in my 30s, I’d be able to go back or forward in time to watch things play out. Needless to say, I’m pissed.

I think if I could go back in time, a lot of what I’d want to see would deal with metal history. I’d want to see Sabbath at their peak both with Ozzy and Dio. I’d want to watch Iron Maiden at an early gig with Paul Di’Anno behind the stick. I’d want to witness the early Napalm Death shows before anyone realized what they’d become. Yeah, OK, I’d also want to see some important historical events as well, but I won’t lie and say seeing Zeppelin in their prime won’t trump something like, I don’t know, the signing of the Constitution. Although I could ask some good questions and explain how some of the things they were writing were going to bastardized to hell more than 200 years later.

Anyway, although there is no known existence of a time machine, I’m not completely convinced one might not exist and that we’ve had visits from the past. One glaring example if the band Purson, signed to Lee Dorrian’s awesome Rise Above and distributed in the U.S. by Metal Blade, and they sound as legitimately lifted and dropped from the late ’60s as any band I can’t think of. Their witchy, psychedelic-laced doom rock doesn’t sound like it’s paying homage to an era; it sounds like it was created there, inspired by those times, and transported to modern day. It’s kind of freaky hearing an album this true and inspired and realizing it was created in the now, and that’s a major compliment to this incredible band that you have to hear as soon as possible.

purson coverIt would be a stretch to label Purson as metal, though if they really did originate in the 1960s or early ’70s, they certainly would be considered roots of the genre when analyzed today. But that’s not how it went down, and while you can’t say Purson are creating extreme metal, there certainly should be crossover appeal for those who like their music traditionally doomy. I’d say if your record collection consists of old Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin and you complement that with Jex Thoth, Jess and the Ancient Ones, and even the Devil’s Blood, you’ll be right at home taking in the band’s debut “The Circle and the Blue Door.”

Purson is a five-headed machine, led notably by singer/guitarist Rosalie Cunningham, whose voice is the pure magic behind this band’s sound. That’s not to take anything away from the rest of this stellar band — guitarist George Hudson, bassist Barnaby Maddick, organ/wurlitzer/mellotron player Samuel Shove, and drummer Jack Hobbs (multi-instrumentalist Ed Turner also is credited with being a major force behind these songs’ creation) — but Cunningham’s vocals help this band transcend and make them special. Her voice drips with charisma and psychedelic wonder, and hearing her deliver these tales is an experience to behold. The moment she begins singing, with a voice that sounds like it leaped decades, you’ll be intoxicated. It’s futile to fight against her.

Opener “Wake Up, Sleepy Head” seems like a song that might serve better as a breather in the middle of the record rather than a lid lifter, but no matter. It’s a soft mover, with Cunningham singing at her most delicate, and her voice gets a watery little wash out to gives you that weary feeling. The leads us to “The Contract,” a cool song with vintage organ pumps, an occult feel musically, and a killer hook on the chorus, which is one of this band’s calling cards, by the way. “Spiderwood Farms” is built on a drop-dead killer riff and is one of the loudest songs on the album with Cunningham singing about a band of ghosts living on a farm who are just there to hang out and, “They mean you no harm.” Bad ass song all around, and one of the best one on this record. “Sailor’s Wife’s Lament” is a sad song, one close to Cunningham’s heart as she hopes that one day her lover can change, and it’s both breezy and tragic at the same time. That leads us to “Leaning on a Bear,” a song that could rival “Spiderwood” for best cut on here, as it pushes into steely Deep Purple territory, with driving melodies and an essence that makes me think of sitting in thick urban traffic on a hot day. Not sure that was their intent.

“Tempest and the Tide” has a folkish open and sounds like it would sound perfect emanating through a Renaissance festival (that’s a compliment, by the way). It’s airy and it wooshes, and it’s pretty much perfect. “Mavericks and Mystics” stomps up dirt, with a thick, bluesy guitar riff and Cunningham even gets a little confrontational when she wails, “It’s us against you all.” “Well Spoiled Machine” is more seductive and suggestive, with psyche keys and sci-fi wandering, while “Sapphire Ward” has some Led Zeppelin-style swagger and charged-up rock that should get your blood pumping. “Rocking Horse” has a lullaby style to it, with slow-burning guitars and flutes, while closer “Tragic Catastrophe” has tasty slide guitar, sorrowful atmosphere, a bit of balladry, a little thunder, and lots of Cunningham ruling everything.

Purson may not satisfy your extreme metal hunger, but maybe you should try something else that leans into a territory you might not be familiar with. Bottom line is this band writes great, memorable songs, with a psychedelic, vintage edge that sounds as it truly is four decades old. Plus Cunningham is a bonafide star, an incredible new voice in the rock and metal world who should be enrapturing us with her stories for years to come.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pursontheband?ref=ts&fref=ts

To buy the album, go here: http://www.indiemerchstore.com/item/18772/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.metalblade.com/us/

And here: http://www.riseaboverecords.com/

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