Almah – Unfold
Reviewed by Christopher Foley
What started out as aversion has slowly turned to appreciation concerning the fourth full-length from Brazilian heavy/power luminaries Almah. Whilst their previous opus Motion garnered some negative press from the ever-valiant power metal crowd, I feel that here, the band has served up a happy medium between each of their prior releases. Almah is a band that has never unleashed the same album twice, and in terms of sheer progression as a band, I’d say they’re more deserving of the progressive metal moniker these days. In fact, I’m kind of reminded of Dream Theater’s early-mid naughties run in terms of creativity with Unfold, and the band in general.
What I personally feel Almah have achieved here, and something which will no doubt come to the chagrin of many – initially including myself – is that they’ve essentially succeeded where acts like Symphorce, Athorn, and later Steel Attack failed in the past. Yeah, you heard it here first: Almah have managed to successfully blend alternative metal influence into power metal, and to my shock and horror, it doesn’t completely suck!
I’ll give you a minute to reflect on the above. Go on, you deserve it.
Whilst incorporating influence from acts as diverse as Alice In Chains, Faith No More, and the oft-dreaded Pantera sound is hardly novel by now, Almah sew these sounds throughout Unfold with deft precision. They do it in a professional manner too, without crutching on one particular element too prominently; while at times it may be blatant, in others it’s subtle, and despite a lot of these factors occurring musically, Edu Falaschi’s chameleon-like vocal performance slithers and coils around each track, affording the most credible weight to an arguably questionable approach.
In the hands of an inferior band this would of course be a recipe for disaster, and here I think it has really hammered home just how strong a songwriting unit Almah really is. “The Hostage” is a particularly good example of their Dr. Frankenstein approach. Despite initially drenching me in aversion with its Pantera style chugging, the track unfolds (that’s one) into a rather brave progressive affair. It features Alice In Chains-style vocal harmonies and a massive, modern chorus all wrapped in an ever twisting arrangement. This leads me nicely into the album’s strongest feature: unpredictability. You can never tell where the band is going to go, and whilst some of the change-ups don’t quite work for my personal tastes, others do.
Those looking for more in the way of the power metal that a lot us had hoped the band would become famed for should look towards the tracks like “I Do”, the fiery opening salvo of “In My Sleep”, and of course the album’s crowning achievement: “Treasure Of The Gods”, which is just about the best song that Almah has ever done. It certainly recalls moments of Angra, though complete with that daring, modern spin that Almah is all about here.
Every track across the album serves up something different, unfolding (that’s two) in various ways, but coming together on the whole as a strong, proud effort. These songs are backed up via virtuosic performances, particularly in the guitar department, and of course Edu’s excellent, shape-shifting vocal approach. If you ever hear someone lamenting about the lack of originality in the genre, then Almah has your back. Whilst I don’t think everything works on the whole – at least to my personal taste – there’s no denying the strength of this album. Give it half a chance to unfold (and that’s three, sorry guys, I’m out of here) and I can guarantee you’ll keep coming back to this one. I know I have.
3.75 // 5