The trouble with modern records that so clearly recall the glory days of old is that it can be hard for them to stand on their own; to succeed on merits other than reminding you of whichever records or bands you consider to be classics. By whatever metric you care to judge though, the debut record from London’s Dungeon is a victory, with Purifying Fire being an electrifying onslaught of old-school speed metal, with a few dashes of heavy and death metal thrown in to keep things interesting. But more than anything else, throughout its duration, Purifying Fire excites because it sounds so vital, energetic, and untamed, with Dungeon standing out amongst the masses simply because of the quality of their material.
At a concise 26 minutes, Purifying Fire wastes absolutely no time, its six tracks charging ahead with all the irresistible power of a runaway train. The songs feel a fraction of their real length such is their ferocious speed and sense of charisma, and the energy remains high throughout. Any complaints over a perceived lack of originality are rendered mute simply because of how good a band Dungeon are; though Dungeon might be a relatively new band, the members involved have plenty of speed and black-thrash pedigree, having played in bands such as Venomwolf and Sepuku, and that experience – and a clear love for the music – shines through. Dungeon do not fuck around, and nor does Purifying Fire.
In terms of highlights, picking out individual songs feels slightly redundant – the important thing is the overall impression, which is of speed, energy, and violence. Even so, several moments do stick in the mind once Purifying Fire has finished playing, such as the dark heavy metal melodies laced through ‘Innocent Evil’ and its , shift into slightly slower tempos around the halfway mark; or the more mid-tempo ‘Traitor’s Gate’ and its atmosphere of city-destroying devastation. But honestly, you come to an album like Purifying Fire for the sense of energy and heavy metal heroics, and that’s exactly what the record delivers. This is the kind of metal that will have you thrashing like a maniac, headbanging at your desk, and starting a one-person circle pit in your living room.
As such there’s only one thing to do: put aside any notions of “is it original?”, “what does it do for the genre?”, and “how does this differ from any of the classic bands of this style?” The answer to all of those is – who cares? You certainly won’t think any of those things whilst listening to the record. Purifying Fire is about metal as raw, untamable energy; about letting loose and enjoying the music, pure and simple. And if you can’t do that to a record such as this, then there’s a very good chance that you don’t actually enjoy speed or thrash metal at all. Purifying Fire shreds, and Dungeon are here to kick your ass.