Label: Reaper Entertainment
Fading from the stages after a final show at Nummirock 2016, the Finnish power metallers of Altaria have had a recent resurgence, reforming in 2019 with a promise of more music to come! Prior to releasing any new material, however, the band has decided to re-release their hit album from 2004, Divinity. As such, it seemed worthwhile to give the old material a spin and see how it holds up a decade-and-a-half later.
The album begins with an Altaria classic, “Unchain the Rain,” which is a mid(+) tempo song with simple verses and a singalong-able chorus. The song is a bit basic in its rhythm section and could use a bit more overall oomph, but nevertheless has a catchy melody and a generally good feeling. On listening beyond this song, the album is plagued by a basic rhythm section that utterly slows everything down and drags down nearly every nice melody the band has created. While vocalist Taage Laiho has a nice voice, the emotion seems a bit forced and while he sounds technically fine, the songs lack any of the integral passion and connection.
“Darkened Highlight” has an overly simple melody in general and the keyboards are like if Everfrost had no flavor at all. The album generally feels a bit like every other power metal band from Finland in the 90s or 00s that never really took off. Tracks like “Will to Live” and “Prophet of Pestilence” have such similar melodies that their intros are nearly indistinguishable from one another, and catchy songs like “Divine” with decent solos are dragged down by the tempo alone. Much like 2019’s disastrous Sonata Arctica release, Talviyö, this album is plagued by sluggish drums and dull bass. If this was sped up a little closer to speed metal levels, the whole experience might change for the better.
While the songs generally have a 3-4 minute run-time, they often feel longer than they are and not for the reasons one might hope. While everything you want from traditional power metal is present in songs like “Stain on the Switchblade,” the lack of oomph keeps any lasting memorable potential at bay. The only song that breaks the mold is “Enemy,” with a more stylishly slow intro that sadly kicks up into the same mid-tempo beat found in every other song; if it had stayed in ballad territory it might have been the highlight of the album. The album ends with “Final Warning,” a song conclusive in name exclusively. While it has some of the more noteworthy melodies on the album, it sadly does not leave much of an impact, and thus the album ends much in the same way it started – not with a flourish, but a slow fade-out, leaving little to no impact in its wake.
Ultimately, while the mix and master of Divinity is very nicely done, the album itself doesn’t really hold up to modern standards. While there are some strong melodies and decent guitar solos, and the vocals are well done, the album suffers from too slow a tempo, a generic and boring rhythm section, and a lack of connection to the music and a resulting loss of emotion as it moves from song to song. Fans from the original from 2004 may find themselves delighted by this remaster, but it’s hard to imagine this convincing any but the most open-minded power metal fans. Here’s hoping that, after disbanding and reforming, that whatever they produce next will have a new dose of inspiration to kick it up a notch.
Rating: 5/10, 2.5 stars
1. Unchain the Rain
2. Will to Live
3. Prophet of Pestilence
4. Darkened Highlight
6. Falling Again
9. Try to Remember
10. Stain on the Switchblade
12. Final Warning