Purpose - 1994-2001 (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


1994-2001 (2007)

Black Numbers

Purpose was a melodic emotional hardcore act that existed from 1994-2001, an era immortalized in the title of their collected works here, 1994-2001. Compiled by the Black Numbers label, the 27-song disc contains all four of the band's EPs, various demos recorded at Ground Zero Studios late in their career, a Rites of Spring cover and a previously unreleased track. The band totaled ten members having had a role here by the end of their existence, and not being terribly familiar with 1990s New Jersey hardcore, one of those names stick out immediately to me: Bill Henderson (ex-Thursday / The Procedure / Between the Wars / X One Way X).

The discography begins with 1999, maybe 2000's Art as a Weapon, seemingly the band's best offering. Here they sort of remind me of early Boy Sets Fire (vocals especially), only drained of much of that band's hardcore aggression and scream-fueled dynamic, but with a more accessible and melodic touch á la Turning Point's final recorded output. However, Purpose still have some excellent tempo changes and sudden breakneck deliveries, like the ever-changing "That Smile." Another standout here is the energetic and vaguely Ignite-like "Player Piano."

Unfortunately, the next few releases run together a little bit, and they aren't as well-recorded or musically accomplished as Art as a Weapon. They're competent and interesting enough to retain a mild command of the listener's attention, though. Alpha and Omega sounds like Weapon's logical forebearer, while What's in Worth is a little more typical late `80s (Youth of Today, Gorilla Biscuits) / early `90s (Shelter) Rev hardcore.

However, any mind that's drifted for several consecutive songs will immediately be brought back by the band's spot-on cover of Rites of Spring's "For Want Of." It's wonderful enough to be treated to a classic, but it's even better that the band absolutely nail it, especially its important, climactic line ("I woke up this mornin' / with a piece of past caught in my throat / and then I choked").

One of New Jersey's better kept secrets over the course of the `90s and into the tip of the early 2000s seemingly had, well, a purpose. That purpose -- conveying real, profound and inspired emotion -- comes across pretty well in this nicely done, career-spanning overview.

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