|Review: Alas - Absolute Purity|
Label: Hammerheart Records
Year released: 2001
Genre: Gothic Metal
Review online: September 21, 2003
Reviewed by: Scott Murray
Rated 3.33/5 (66.67%) (9 Votes)
Who knew one of the most widely recognized and respected guitarists in death metal had this in him? I certainly didn't. This little experiment known as Alas was created by Hate Eternal leader and ex-Morbid Angel titan Erik Rutan, and is basically the opposite of what you'd expect, but gives a unique perspective on a completely different side to the man's vast abilities. Rutan takes all of the writing (music, lyrics and orchestration) credit, with Martina Astner of Therion voicing these ten unique compositions that are a far cry from anything typical of the gothic metal realm.
In a way, I guess you could call this a Rutan exposé in which he is free to show off with some catchy, technical riffs and epic solos. The sound of the album is very divided, with vocals and guitar pretty much acting on their own with little interaction, plus there's some keyboards and a solid rhythm section, but Absolute Purity really just wants you to hear the guitar and the vocals. The atmospheric keyboards do a good job of goth-ening the overall feel of the album.
One complaint that seems fairly consistent when it comes to reviews of this album are the vocals maybe being a bit too operatic and overdone for its own good, plus the limited range employed. Personally, I think Astner pulls it off to a tolerable degree for the most part, not a blow away caliber performance, but she carries the songs well and complements the atmospheric shroud of the album.
Overall, I find myself coming back to this album every so often and each spin makes me again realize why Absolute Purity still has a place in my collection. Recommended for those looking for something outside the box of the norm of Napalm Records style goth bands. Avoid the second cut The Enchanted though, a strangely "happy" toned tune that seems very out of place, especially after the fantastic title-track opener.
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