The rural town of Ahsbourne is well known for its closely-knit community, its efficient farm produce, and most of all - its loyal church goers.
Every sacred Sunday, congregations gather within St. John's Church to indulge the cherished preachings of Father Rodney, as well as the melodramatic soundings of Organist William Mandleson's hymn melodies. The atmosphere among the congretional mass is harmonious, demonstrating a strong sense of worship and good-will towards eachother.
Exactly five months ago today during a visit to the town, music producer Phil McDonald was strolling past St. John's, feeding bread to the swans in the nearby lake.
"I heard this beautiful, almost serenely magestic sound echoing from the confines of the church. I was so taken aback, I threw the rest of the bread into the lake before running towards the entrance," he explains. "When I pushed those church doors open, I saw an organist gently hammering out 'Amazing Grace', but with an added twist of Pine Top style boogie-woogie.
"After the last few bars, I clapped and cheered like a maniac, before realising i'd interrupted the funeral service of some poor soul. So I patiently waited for the service to finish before approaching him.
"I basically said to him, "look, you've got potential - I want to sign you up to my label immediately. I can make you real big." "
What followed would change the rest of William Mandleson's life, as the music mogul offered him a five-year record deal with EMI records, in which he would be united with guitarist Flash Maverick, drummer Lloyd Anderson, and bassist/vocalist Hans Bolkerbauer to form the aptly named prog-rock outfit, 'Purgatory'.
Mandleson explains, "I can't believe my luck - one minute I'm being forced to earn a living by playing depressive music to a bunch of idle Christians, and the next i'm touring the world, playing to vast arenas of over 30, 000 people!"
He continues, "The other guys are great musicians, but what makes the new record so special is it's added dimension of atmospheric, almost medieval style backing tracks, courtesy of my own unique talents. It's all about channelling the music from the creative conscious, i.e, the soul...the chakra to be exact. This is basically the energy centre of the body and all that shit".
However, whilst the music comes naturally to Mr. Mandleson, he admits to having to delve deep for meaningful lyrics.
"Lyrics for me are important - they're like the engines which drive the music along. I spent days on end couped up in my room, sometimes locked away in a cupboard, formulating lyrics for the album.
"Occasionally, they'll come out of the blue and I have to jot them down quickly before I forget.
"Once, I was in a public toilet doing the business when I had a fantastic idea for a lyric - "Light the ocean, with burning candles - ride the waves, with Satan's love-handles", but silly me, I didn't have my pen or lyric pad with me, so I took my swiss-army knife, and carved the words into to my arm. That's dedication to the art of songwriting for you."
The album itself, entitled 'One Way Ticket To Purgatory'' is a fantastic concoction of metal and rock, with strong prog influences from the likes of 'Rush' and 'Yes'. Consistent from start to finish, the record begins with the brilliant ''Beelzebub & The Cock of Doom", a twenty-three minute "epic, of epic proportions" with more twists and turns than the Mississippi river.
Starting with the opening minor chords of Mandleson's haunting organ, the guitar and bass begin to gallop, and vocalist Hans Bolkerbauer lets out a powerful high-pitched scream, before he spits out the immortal words;
- He rears his head from the fires of hell,
An outcast, from the skies he fell,
Burning souls, in flames they loom,
Beelzebub, and the cock of doom.
Track two continues the trend with another epic, before the band tone things down with the ballad 'In The Arse Tonight (Sphincter Supreme)'. Admittedly, the guitar solo was strangely reminiscent of a screaming old lady being dragged face first-along the steps of the CN tower, but like the rest of the album, you begin to appreciate it further after repeated listens. Great stuff.
- Beelzebub & The Cock Of Doom
- Twatting The Moose
- In The Arse Tonight (Sphincter Supreme)
- A Pint with The Grim Reaper
- Vaginal Discharge
- Central Heating In Limbo
- Satan's Window Cleaner
In Stores - 18th September 08 - EMI© Records Ltd.