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This one is a bit hard to review. Either you're underestimating it because you're used to Quorthon's older material, or you're not a metalhead and therefore haven't heard of Quorthon and are not likely to ever fall upon his releases, even less so his solo projects. So if you're a metalhead who wants to be "true" and stick to metal only, this is not for you. If you're a fan of rock in general, this will probably suit you and if you, like me, just happen to love everything that Quorthon has ever done because you're that much of a fan, you are most likely going to find some really good material on this double album.
The epic style that Quorthon took on with Hammerheart is actually pretty prominent. It's just not metal, it's rock. Songs like Deep, When Our Day Is Through and Cherrybutt & Firefly are some examples. Then there are the backbone of the albums that make up most space, like I've Had It Coming My Way and Roller Coaster that are pure alternative rock songs. There's two very mellow songs, Fade Away and Just The Same that includes a guitar and Quorthon's voice only. These are some interesting numbers if you don't mind to listen to some mellow material instead of Equimanthorn. You Just Got To Live (which was played on Quorthon's funeral) closes the album on a positive note and is like nothing I've ever heard before. You just got to check it out, so to speak.
All in all, it's a good album and some songs are really well written, although not very complicated and there are certanly some "fillers" (at least that what it sounds like to my ears) and the most interesting tracks are Deep, When Our Day Is Through, Cherrybutt & Firefly, Fade Away, Just The Same and You Just Got To Live.
It’s quite understandable for a fan of Bathory to be interested by Quorthon’s solo project, aptly named Quorthon. However, if you’re expecting thrashy viking metal or misanthropic black metal, you will be disappointed. The best way to describe Quorthon is as a modern grunge tinged hard rock band. There is a lot here that will entice an Alice in Chains fan more than a Bathory fan.
What makes this more a grungy album? Firstly there are the guitars, they are very good, and have a tendency to sound like many grunge bands of the time (Soundgarden and Alice in Chains). Another reason is the vocal melodies, and the double vocal technique. Both are reminiscent of Alice in Chains. The melodies are full of hooks, along with very simple, easy to listen to, verses, while it seems the vocals were overdubbed to provide a dual vocal quality. Also the drums sound like something Dave Grohl would have done, and that isn’t a put down, that’s just a description of the style.
But grunge haters do not fear! There are some very non grunge things about “Purity of Essence”. The keyboards are the main thing. You will never, ever, find a grunge band using one of those. But in all honesty they are used to fill out the songs, and never really are the focus. They are used very tastefully.
And then there are the vocals, to which there is no single way of description. Sometimes they are too far back in the mix, other times they are way too far up, though that is more of a production flaw, a rarity on this album. But, returning to the vocals themselves, they don’t sound like any particular singer to compare them too. On the plus side though, that makes them very unique.
And as for the material on this album, it’s consistently decent, but has a tendency to sound exactly the same. Of course this is a double album, and if they were to be split, disc one would get about a 85 and disc two would get about a 77. And yes, those together equal 81, not 82, but the first disc has a few more songs, and therefore has more weight in the score. Maybe the best song is the second song of the first disc in “I've Had It Coming My Way”.
Overall, Quorthon’s “Purity of Essence” is a decent album. Also, it must be remembered when listened to that this is NOT a Bathory album, or else this would be a total sore thumb. So you can check this out for name on the front, or you can check it out for the good music on this disc, either way you’ll be rewarded in the end.