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Altaria - Divinity (Reissue)

Divinity (Reissue)
by Alan Stevens at 18 May 2020, 2:43 PM

"Divinity" is the second album from ALTARIA, which originally came out almost 20 years ago, and is being re-released due to the reformation of this early line up in the bands career. At that time, power metal and fantasy lyrics had their place with bands like BLIND GUARDIAN and HELLOWEEN, but it was during this decade which saw the rise of Thrash and Speed Metal influenced bands like DRAGONFORCE. Coming from someone who has enjoyed a lot from this genre, "Divinity" just feels… well clichéd and manufactured… like they had the blueprints for a power metal song, and just kept having another go at the template. I hope their new album proves to be a step beyond this inception. Out of curiosity, I listened to a few tracks from their debut album, and… the songwriting is better, not as heavy, but there's something there, that's missing from this album… At the risk of stepping on toes; if you have ever listened to a power metal song in your life, then you've listened to this album.

It's very hard to talk about each track with constructive criticism, as my critique of any of these songs, could easily be applied to any of the other tracks on this album. They are in general, classic power metal tracks, using go to chord progressions, but they have tried adding to the power metal soundscape with some nice orchestral and space pad additions. Fortunately the tracks are very short, this would be more of an issue on a really good album, but of the 12 tracks here, only four of them actually break the 4 minute mark, and that's only by a few seconds. Most lie around 3 minutes and 30 seconds. As a musician this hurts as I can't help feel they're trying to adhere to the archaic adage of '3-Minute Singles' an idea popularised in the 50's and 60's during the rise of vinyl recordings, but this 3 minute limit was due to the fact that a 10 Inch Record could only hold just over 3  minutes worth of song. This in turn restricts the writing and performance of a song when it is not given leave to expand and explore the musical elements. “Falling Again” isn't too bad, sounds like SABATON but with less emotional weight. The song is quick tempo'd, but only enough to create the feel of urgency while maintaining a moderate pace, and everyone's playing is just too on the nose, like it was all written by one person, it lacks feeling from the players. “Haven” Though, was when my cringe meter broke, sounding like someone just cut up the lyrics from a DRAGONFORCE or RHAPSODY OF FIRE album and pasted in cliched words like 'forever, destiny, harmony' and 'destiny' again because whatever… “Stain On The Switchblade” sounds very much like EDGUY or even HAMMERFALL, but with everything working against itself and the lyrics being the way they are… I just don't know what any of these songs are about, even looking up the lyrics online, it's a struggle to derive much meaning from this random assortment of words from the Fantasy Thesaurus. The most disheartening element of this whole album, the best track on here, is not an original. It isn't listed in my tracks as they weren't included in my review material, but a quick search online and ALTRARIA's cover of “Balls To The Wall” is fantastic and a great marriage of their style and the songs original construction.

So this review hasn't exactly been kind, in their defence, they know how to put together a Power Metal track, but I feel they've restricted themselves into the idea of a genre, forcing them to become weak copies of those who came before, their problem I feel was relying on techniques and structures that are tried and tested, and either out of fear or some ideology, they have missed implanting anything of heart from their performances. Each track feels strangled and manhandled to fit into the same square holes. My suggestion, if it's worth anything, take what you enjoy and like about a genre, then add some other elements from other genres, or better yet, removing the idea of genre all together. Leaving yourself with a tool chest of licks and riffs and rhythms that create emotion within the listener, and being able to pick and choose AS THE SONG REQUIRES. This is how “new” genres, and unique bands are formed. It's how genres like Power Metal came about, from artists mashing together musical ideas that appealed to them, they weren't restricting themselves too a genre, they were carving out a new one. This expansive mindset is what is missing. As a re-release I fear this is entering into a very different landscape from when it was initially released, there are many bands since that have done what they have tried here and excelled, creating new fans, and also with the digital age, anyone who is a fan of this music wont be finding anything new here. If you like the heavy battle songs, then you'd probably enjoy AVANTASIA or HAMMERFALL. If you prefer over the top Power metal, then check out DRAGONFORCE or POWERGLOVE. The point I wish to leave you with; at it's time, this album was strong but unfortunately everything outside this album has changed so much that it is dated and outpaced by more recent artists.

Songwriting: 4

2 Star Rating

1. Unchain The Rain
2. Will To Live
3. Prophet Of Pestilence
4. Darkened Highlght
5. Discovery
6. Falling Again
7. Divine
8. Haven
9. Try To Remember
10. Stain On The Switchblade
11. Enemy
12. Final Warning
Taage Laiho – vocals
Jani Liimatainen – guitars
Marko Pukkila – bass
Tony Smedjebacka – drums
Record Label: Reaper Music Entertainment


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Edited 28 November 2022

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