Tuesday 11 January 2022

Purple AQP - Rise and Fall of the Inca's Empire (2022)

Country: Peru
Style: Hard Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 11 Jan 2022
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I try to mix up my review schedules, both daily and weekly, to ensure a firm variety of bands from across the rock and metal spectrum and around the globe. That can be tough in the first couple of weeks of January, when I'm restricted to what's been released this year thus far and it turned out that I reviewed a French heavy metal album and a Peruvian hard rock album today that aren't the musical distance apart I expected. The Losts are certainly metal and Purple AQP are hard rock but they do stretch into metal at points too. I'm going to stick with hard rock as my label,but they're a heavy hard rock, that's for sure. It doesn't shock me that they have a page at Metal Archives.

They're certainly in your face from the outset, with a clear emphasis on war as subject matter, an appropriate theme given the title of the album. I don't know that this is a concept album, but it's definitely themed. The lyrics seems to match the sound effects in intros and narrative moments, a collection of anger that affects the tone. I should mention here that the lyrics all appear to be in English, though the narrative bits aren't always. I have little Spanish but I don't think I need it on this one.

The core sound is an interesting one and I'm struggling to place it. Sure, the first band that sprung to mind were Motörhead, because Empire Arise opens rather like Deaf Forever, but that's not the direction the album goes, not really. There's some Tank too, but maybe that's just shared subject matter leading me down the wrong path. I read that the Purple in Purple AQP is apparently a nod to Deep Purple, just as AQP is their home town of Arequipa, but they're far from Purple clones. I'm not hearing anything Gillan or Blackmore here, for a start, except on the closer, Computer God, an obvious Blackmore riff leading into Gillan or maybe Accept territory.

Also, while the first half of the album plays very consistently, there are moments where they go in a surprising direction, like the vocals on Cross Keeper that are clean during the verses but find a deliberately extreme emphasis in the chorus. It's so wild that I wondered if there was an unlikely guest appearance. The second half brings plenty of surprises too. Forty Bitch has a sassy slant to it that's still hard and heavy but with a very different tone to everything that went before. Then The Sonar adds some Hawkwind, even some Yes, to proceedings, though the song evolves back into the usual approach.

What surprised me most is the discovery that this is a one man band, that man being Victor Calvo, who's therefore responsible for all the instruments and the vocals. I fully expected the band to be made up of different musicians who brought very different influence with them. In particular, the drummer often feels like he's playing in a metal band, but the guitarist and bass player are more than happy to stay with hard rock, the latter having a lot of fun on the instrumental Demon of the Dark. The vocals move a bit more between the genres, but mostly remain on the hard rock side of that boundary. Yet, they're all Victor Calvo. Why is he more metal behind a drumkit?

All these questions fascinate me, but they don't affect the quality of the album. This is interesting stuff and I enjoyed it. Sure, Forty Bitch seems a little out of place when it shows up and even more once the entire album has done, but it's not too far adrift. It's also a good song. Maybe it's newer, having first appeared on a compilation album last year. Six of these ten songs were on the band's 2019 demo, Empire Arise, so they're older. And that suggests that Cross Keeper is one of the new songs, with its nod to extreme metal. Suddenly I'm really interested in what a second album might sound like.

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