Altair – Lost Eden
Altair – Lost Eden (2013)
Reviewed by Daniel Millard
What band hails from northern Italy, values almost operatically-styled lead male vocals, strong neo-classical influences, and obligingly prominent keyboard work?
Ok, so that was mean. In this case, however, the answer happens to be (amongst a slough of others) Altair, a new power metal project from Ferrara. And really, the mandatory comparison to Italian power metal giants Rhapsody is not nearly as strong as I have just implied, although Simone Mala is quite clearly cut from very similar cloth as Mr. Lione. Other than that, the stylistic differences are considerable.
Altair plays, I won’t deny it, very straightforward, melodic, and accessible European power metal of the sort that I might sometimes deem “unimaginative” or “basic”. The chord progressions are, after all, extremely simplistic, predictable, and unexciting. Luckily, not only is Mala a capable singer, but the cooperative, overlapping keyboard and lead guitar work is rather pleasant. The keys are a real standout on this album, delivering in every area you’d want them to: atmospheric backdrop, textural depth, carrying strong melodies, and even delivering some very competent solo work.
The first few songs come off as a fairlycookie-cutter. The tempo is blanket medium-fast, and for a six-part band, things really seem to be quite minimalistic, instrumentally. The title track, however, pivots the album from first to second half with considerable grace. Emotive melodies, marvelously smooth keyboard segments, and more varied percussive work characterize “Lost Eden”, and the tune flows seamlessly into the liberating soft-rock epic “Freedom Is The Key”. “Rise To The Moon” is another exception from the general rule. This eight minute track boasts a good deal of breakaway lead guitar, a very fresh chorus, and rhythmic elements that are faster (if no more exceptional) than most of the rest of the album.
In overall perspective however, I find Lost Eden to be too generic to leave much of an impression. Approximately half the tracks (not including the instrumental prelude and the aforementioned songs) have near-identical drum work, good but unexceptional melodies, and not enough breakaway talent in any department to disguise the relatively bare bones of the group’s compositions. For those who enjoy -or at least don’t mind – very straightforward (read: no complexities or strong influences from other genres), fluffy power metal, this is pretty forthright stuff. However, even generally being a fan of exactly what I just described, I find this to be nothing special. Nothing that Altair does on Lost Eden has not already been accomplished previously or with greater gusto, plain and simple. There are some interesting ideas, and those who enjoy good keyboard work in the power metal might chance a look, but otherwise there is much more ripe fruit for the picking, especially this year.
3.0 // 5