Altaria - review added 3rd September 2009
Album Review: Unholy (2009)
For fans of: Hard Rock... and flames
Flaming-logoed Finnish band Altaria have been kicking around since the turn of the millennium. The group was formed after present drummer Tony S. and former bass player Marko Pukkila began writing music together.
First album Invitation was released in 2003 and was quickly followed by Divinity in 2004, The Fallen Empire in 2006 and a compilation in 2007. Unholy is the fourth studio album (for those who aren't very good at counting). Over the years they've supported acts such as Doro and Sonata Arctica as well as playing some of the larger festivals across Europe.
The full line-up as of 2009 is Marco Luponero (vocals and bass), Tony S. (drums), J-P Alanen (guitar) and Petri Aho (guitar). Sound-wise they play a mid-heaviness rock with a good solid rhythm section and a slick show of talent. The songs vary in quality from the average to the bloody good but Altaria is one of those bands you find yourself liking whatever they do.
Unholy opens in dynamite-fuelled style with the speedy track, 'Alterior Motive'. It isn't what you could call a perfect song but there's a charm to the composition that's hard to resist. The guitar playing stands out as particularly heart-quickening. 'Warrior' trumps it big-style though. It's a track that would benefit from being massively heavier but, even at 3/4 strength, it's a big leather-clad beast with a mighty broadsword of a chorus.
'Unholy Invasion' is flip-flop's width above average. 'Pride & Desire' is similarly simple but loveable. The start of 'The Lake' sounds suspiciously like the little critters harmonizing in the Gremlins films. It's hard to hold back a chuckle but, fortunately, the rest of the song is much more serious and considerably better. The lyrics tell a strong horror-led story about, well, a lake unsurprisingly. With lines like "The children were buried in this cold black grave, Too young to be forgotten, Too dead to be saved" you can tell it's not a smoochy ballad!
'Danger Zone' is an upbeat song that can think of itself as the album's dark horse. It initially sounds unspectacular but you find yourself being drawn in and enjoying it way too much. The whole shebang builds very cleverly into a bit of a beasty. 'Steal Your Thunder' reminds me of an episode of Friends. I would explain why but it'll take too long - if you watch the show you'll already understand. 'Wind Beneath My Wings' isn't a mis-worded copy of the Bette Midler track - shame, I would have enjoyed that! It's a fine track though with an urgent rhythm and, again, nice guitar work.
'We Own The Fire' is another track that sounds like it should be considerably heavier. 'Ready!' is a fun rock 'n' roll bar-stormer that's got steel toe-caps and a selection of impressive tattoos. 'Never Wonder Why' is a pulsatingly heavy-ballad with a memorable sound and a gravelly but catchy chorus. Final track 'Underdog' has a brilliantly heavy verse that's much closer to the sound Altaria should be playing. It's maybe a bit too Manowar for safety but works well regardless. The funky solo is a great addition too.
Altaria hint at great things on this album but the end result is too flat and unadventurous. They need to crank the gain up next time and attack those power chords, thumping bass and kick drums like their lives depend on it. I really enjoyed this album, but I want to marry and have babies with the follow-up. The talent is there. They just need to use it and f*ck the consequences.
Check out... The sound they finally get right in the very last track.