Musical styles come and go. Purgatory, an Indonesian rock band, lasted from 1991 until 2000. Nine years is certainly not a brief lifespan for a band, especially when compared to some pop performers.
Acts you see in the charts now are often the titles of the CDs that end up being flogged in street markets for cents. Yes, pop, by its very nature, is a fickle business. Those cheesy chart melodies with their devilishly catchy choruses are only intended to be listened to today; forgotten by tomorrow. In this way, the next young pretender can quickly assume pole position in the conveyor belt of fame.
Although there can be no denying that a lot of rock music satisfies the same criteria as pop. It can be extremely catchy, with a huge potential audience. But it is crucial to make the distinction between rock and pop because pop is invariably transient, whereas classic rock endures. And there is one name that should be added to all those names that are still downloaded from online music stores on a daily basis, long after the original band has either split, or its members have died, or both. Next time you're browsing through The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kiss, Led Zeppelin, The Clash, Jimi Hendrix, or a host of others, think about a band called Purgatory.
Purgatory were an Indonesian band that this formed in 1991, roundabout the time that US grunge exponents Nirvana were making such huge shockwaves right across the global rock audience. At that time a bunch of friends got together to cover songs by Obituary and Sepultura. They picked the name for the band, not from any religious texts, but from the cult horror movie A Nightmare on Elm Street.
The initial line-up for Purgatory was Al on drums, Lutfie and Arief on guitars, and Hendrie on bass guitar and vocals. Their first release came four years later with an EP that was entitled Abyss Call. Shortly after this a compilation album was released, Metalik Klinik 1, with one track supplied by the band, Sakaratul Maut. A proper Purgatory album followed, entitled Ambang Kepunahan.
Just as the band were never content with simply regurgitating songs by the likes of Sepultura there always debate about which particular genre to pursue. Certainly their earlier material bears all the hallmarks of ‘Death Metal', where any sense of melody is buried very deeply beneath a morass of thrashing guitars and furiously accelerating rhythms. By the turn of the decade they had decided to add another vocalist, as well as a DJ, to add further dimensions to their performances. In addition to this, they also decided to wear masks.
Their second studio album, 7:172, released in 2003, reflected this departure from the two-dimensional straitjacket of Death Metal, into the more potentially audience-friendly arena of Nu Metal. Although there is a song on one of their subsequent albums which name-checks Death Metal exponents Napalm Death, their sound was far from just a rabid-noise with vocals that were growled into a microphone rather than sung.