So I went to everyone’s starting point for research, Wiki, to get some information on the debut effort from Italian power metal band Altair, Lost Eden. The first response to come up was for a star in the constellation of Aquila. Reading on, I noticed one fact that stood out, that Altair rotates rapidly, so much so that it is not perfectly round, but is flattened at the poles. Nothing could be more descriptive of the band’s debut album, Lost Eden. There is so much franticly furious metal on this album that it pretty much flattened my head at its poles. I love it when a band labels themselves power metal, and then follow through by delivering so much power that I can’t keep up.
Altair was initially brought to light in July of 2008 by lead guitarist Gianmarco Bambini and bassist Luca Scalabrin. After two years of rotating musicians, the final line up for this release finishes out with vocalist Simone Mala, co-lead guitarist Gianluca Ferioli, keyboardist Enrico Ditta, and drummer Daniele Dalla Dea (who was added mid recording). Recording for Lost Eden began in 2011 and after jumping through the usual logistical hoops that most bands have to deal with, eventually saw the album’s release at the end of October through German Power Prog. Now, it’s no secret that Italian power/prog metal suites me, I have yet to come across a band of said sub-genre that I haven’t liked. Altair continues the winning streak for the Italians, of that there is no doubt, so buckle yourselves in folks, and let’s check out Lost Eden.
Lost Eden opens with the aptly titled Prelude, a brief symphonic instrumental introductory track that does a more than proper job of setting the tone for the albums take off point, the searing Power of the Gods. Altair waste no time in letting you know what they’re all about either, this track comes out with guns blazing, and those guns are the dueling lead guitars of Ferioli and Bambini, dancing in and out of sync with each other, delivering power chord after power chord. They will separate with one dropping the chords while the other solos a bit, then coming back into each other smoothly. Bass work is a steady trip hammer keeping up the furious pace of the song, and the album overall, as is the frantic twenty arm drumming of Dalla Dea. The vocals of Mala are solid, though a bit on the high pitch-whiny edge, a common affliction of the genre, though not so overly so that it takes away from the complete package. The keys of Ditta serve as a melodic element that keeps the power metal edge of Altair grounded a bit, adding enough atmospheres to provide just the right amount of soul. It’s a formula they stick with pretty much throughout the album, and feel that a little diversity in the future would go a long way, but more on that later. Let’s get to the next track, Reaching the Dreams, which opens with some intense keyboard work, before dropping into the serious chords paired with a quick run up and down the fret board and a piercing scream, then settling into the rat-a-tat metal mode.
Fly Away opens with textbook riffs straight out of the pages of the masters of old, solidly executed. One thing here that stands out is the vocal harmonies between Mala and back up vocalist Scalabrin, they pair up very nicely, and the harmonies are placed at times odd enough to make them standout. The instrumental section of this one is exceptional, with some exotic instrumental sounds interspersed with the solid metal. Following is the title track, Lost Eden, which opens with some subtle and beautiful piano work, then paired with the standard power chords to deliver an overall “epic” feel to the song. The song progresses into a seriously brutal instrumental segment where a blistering solo is laid down before developing back into the “epic” mode, almost giving a biblical-esque tone to the song, living up to its title. Freedom is the Key is the power ballad of the album, and is a very solid one. It takes its sweet time building up to crescendo, adding to the overall effect of the track. In Wind of Changes, the power chords come in again, brining up reminiscences of Randy Rhodes classic style. The drum work stands out in this one, bridging the gaps and at times taking the lead role, one which is handled with perfect skill. The song has a very nice pairing of the lead guitar and keyboard, then flowing into a battle royal of trading solos between the three, a very well done segment. Rise to the Moon is a more straight up, in your face metal song that serves to set the scene for the final track, Redemption. Opening with some delicate keys paired with church bell like chimes, they quickly move back into the resounding chord work. The song builds instrumentally until hitting a climax, all instruments running up and down in harmony before clashing to a close.
Now, I could just close the review here, but Altair added a bonus track, an acoustic version of Wind of Changes. A whole other side of the band is shown here, airy keyboards, beautiful acoustic guitars, and vocals where Mala isn’t trying to blow out the doors, but is settling into the song and mood. It works, oh man does it work. I think a bit more of this added to the next product would give the band a whole other dimension to play with; their musical skills across the board are more than applicable to the task, that’s for sure. Just a thought folks, that’s all.
But my personal taste aside, Altair does a rather remarkable job of delivering on the power part of power metal. Their collective effort results in quite a package, a full frontal assault of power metal that makes no apologies for itself, instead just laying it out on the table and letting the listener decide if he/she is up for the ride.