Alas - _Absolute Purity_
(Hammerheart, 2001)
by: Pedro Azevedo (7 out of 10)
This promised to be quite a difficult yet potentially interesting marriage of musical styles: Erik Rutan (of Morbid Angel and Hate Eternal fame) invited Martina Hornbacher Astner (Therion) to add her operatic vocal talents to his own guitar and keyboard work, as well as the complex rhythmic structures built by drummer Howard Davis and bassist Scott Hornick. The result is a hybrid of guitar-based technical metal and operatic vocal melodies with slight keyboard overtones -- quite unlike anything Therion have ever done, by the way. I would not call _Absolute Purity_ a doom metal album at all, in case the thought crosses your mind; it isn't happy-sounding, but it conveys very little emotion, sounding quite sterile in terms of feeling and instead concentrating on the technical side of things. Drummer and bassist do a very good job indeed, whilst Rutan shows that his talents, although multi-faceted, seem better applied on his death metal projects. Despite some exceptions (such as the opening track), the technicality and lack of melody in his guitar riffs and solos does not create much of a spark or feeling. The music is very dependent on said guitar work, and often Martina's excellent soprano vocals seem to struggle to find their place in the compositions due to the awkwardness of many of the riffs, causing several passages to sound somewhat disjointed. The first few tracks mostly sound quite interesting and the elements seem to work well together, but most of the album tends to lose itself in uninteresting technical riffs and struggles to retain my attention. "Tragedies" and "Quest of Serenity" turn out to be quite enjoyable as well -- mainly thanks to the drumming -- but the whole album seems to live in the shadow of its superior opening title track. This is an album of undeniable technical merits, but in which several of the songs themselves don't necessarily work particularly well. _Absolute Purity_ seems to me a record that musicians are very likely to enjoy a lot better than anyone else.

[Paul Schwarz: "Though written, produced, and substantially performed, by Eric Rutan, _AP_ is not is an attempt by an American death metaller to replicate commercial Euro-goth/doom. Alas include a great degree of variation to good effect, though _AP_ does occasionally drag. Numerous well-crafted 'Domination'-esque leads here for the traditional Rutan-o-philes to savour: embedded within one of the most coherent and convincing clean, female-vocalled metal albums I've ever heard."]

(article published 12/8/2001)

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