Altaria – Wisdom (Reaper Entertainment)Wednesday, 13th July 2022
A vital part of the melodic metal scene during the 2000’s, Finnish act Altaria released five albums between 2003-2009 before going their separate ways. A decade later they would reunite, with Reaper Entertainment reissuing their second album Divinity – getting the remastering treatment plus appearing on vinyl for the first time ever. Spurred on by renewed interest plus as a celebration of their 20th anniversary as a group, they developed new material which we now hear for Wisdom.
On the surface these ten tracks may seem a bit less energetic than others in the melodic power metal/hard rock field – yet there’s a workmen-like charm to the tight arrangements, meat and potatoes main musical components, and solid melodies / hooks on display. Keyboard splashes supplement the vibrant main licks and steady mid-tempo guitar action of J-P Alanen and Petri Aho, who choose to express themselves in a vein for the title track and “Kissed by the Flame” right out of the Accept/Pretty Maids playbook, spinning in a little AOR-ish textures during the verses. The main vocals from Taage Laiho allow the band to stand out amongst the competition – he has a smooth confidence in lower ranges plus hitting those necessary prime time choruses that convince followers to join the party, especially when his compatriots get a little more aggressive and faster for “Power to Heal” or extend themselves into epic landscapes for the 8:36 “Crimson Rain”. Beyond the nine new songs, the band revisit “History of Times to Come (2022)” and add “Kingdom of the Night” as a bonus track for the limited-edition release – which to metal historians contains significance as the group on their debut release had members of Sonata Arctica and Nightwish in their ranks.
Altaria is one of those groups that old-timers probably appreciate infinitely more than the younger music fans who want something heavier, speedier, or a bit more exciting. Wisdom may have limited appeal, but don’t discount its basic foundational components to execute melodic heavy metal in a tight package.