Alpha Tiger – iDentity (SPV)

Thursday, 8th January 2015
Rating: 9/10

Hailing from a traditional/power metal hotbed such as Germany has its perks as far as establishing a presence in an active scene – and that’s where Alpha Tiger call home. Developing in 2007 under the less than auspicious name Satin Black, they wisely shifted to a much more striking moniker in 2011, and have released two impressive albums in Man or Machine plus Beneath the Surface that put a foothold in Europe and other foreign territories who revel in the ways of Iron Maiden, early Fates Warning, or the speedier fare from Helloween.

Signing a new deal to SPV, the quintet have their sights sets on larger terrain – as should be the case when delivering your third album to the heavy metal community. The blueprint of twin lead melodic guitar harmonies, high pitched, soaring vocal action, and a tight as nails rhythm section able to keep up with the synchronized acrobatics plus add in those necessary anthem/ groove inflections translates successfully – but iDentity wishes to put Alpha Tiger on headline trajectory. And based on numerous spins over many weeks, the five-piece willingly stretch a little more on a variety of factors to create possibly their strongest and most diverse album to date.

A lot of the choruses capture your attention in a throwback, NWOBHM meets Sunset Strip hard rock manner. The mid-tempo galloping “Lady Liberty” and playfully rhythmic-oriented “We Won’t Take It Anymore” (think The Warning period Queensrÿche here) demand shout-a-thon, top of your lungs singing in unison with the band. An ace in the hole is Alpha Tiger’s supreme vocalist Stephan Dietrich – confidently soaring to Kiske-like highs, he also has that attitude and charisma that make other power legends like Lethal’s Tom Mallicoat or Riot’s Tony Moore critical favorites in highlights such as “Scripted Reality” or the dramatic Maiden-like title cut.

Where Alpha Tiger set themselves apart from their traditional/power contemporaries is the art of songwriting. The piano/organ touches, cymbal/guitar buildup, and obvious pop elements on “Closer to Yesterday” possess a lot of that arena rock appeal that is necessary to build a career upon – and then the band storm ahead and deliver a heads down power anthem for the ages on the follow up “Shut Up & Think”, as Alexander Backasch and Peter Langforth run up and down the speed/traditional axe catalog in riffs and lead work. The 7:21 closer “This World Will Burn” probably features the most addictive harmonies on the album, as well as comfortably shifting between clean acoustics and electric sections into these solid groove build ups – the second section very emotive and brilliantly executed.

Alpha Tiger elevate their style a few notches to the good for iDentity – let’s hope they are able to slide on the right North American tour and give the fans a wakeup call to professional heavy metal that takes old school tradition and keeps it engaging for modern audiences.

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