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Released: 2014, Self-Produced
Althea is an Italian progressive metal band that formed in 1998 with guitarist Dario Bortot and bassist Zilio Fabrizio. ELVEN is the band’s first full length album after putting together a couple of demos earlier in the 2000s. The band has centered their sound on the more direct and restrained compositions from bands such as Marillion, Porcupine Tree, Enchant and Sieges Even. With ELVEN, Althea has composed a melodic, brooding album that evades the endless technical flurry of notes and time changes and instead goes for a more atmospheric approach. The results are songs with appealing vocals and memorable passages but also slow, low energy tunes that require the right listening mood to truly appreciate.
One immediate strength is Alessio Accardo’s vocals, which are more mid-ranged versus helium high. He possesses a soothing and appealing voice that helps carry even heavier tunes like “Lies” in the right direction, which is one of the more complex and Dream Theater inspired tunes. It is also the album’s longest song. The album opens with a quote from Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Chance For Peace Address in 1953 on the song “Just A Man”. One of the catchiest riffs on the album is featured here at the beginning, and while the synths are frankly overblown, it is still an impressive tune with a chorus that almost sounds borrowed from Porcupine Tree. “1000 Storey Tall” is my favorite tune on the album, and probably the most connecting, with an inspirational chorus and sage use of clean guitars and supporting bass.
Consisting of only seven songs, two slow and deflating ballads sequenced together prevent this from being as impressive as the remaining songs warrant. “Silence” is too keyboard driven, and while it picks up slightly in the last minute or so, the delicate guitars are essentially drowned out by the keys through most of the song. “I Can’t Breathe” comes next, a piano-driven ballad that really adds nothing of substance to the album. Nevertheless, ELVEN is still an impressive debut full-length. Bortot is a tasteful guitar player and the production is outstanding, with the bass and drums both featuring prominently in the mix. Considering that this is self-produced, Althea might be able to save considerable money if they land a record label deal producing their own albums. The songs are well-written with choruses that usually resonate, and while their influences are apparent, the band has managed to imprint some of their own individual style on the album. Progressive metal fans, particularly of Porcupine Tree, Marillion and Sieges Even should be able to appreciate what Althea has constructed in ELVEN
1. Just a Man
2. 1.000 Storey Tall
4. I Can't Breathe
6. Dreaming Veil
Dario Bortot (Guitar)
Fabrizio Zilio (Bass)
Marco Zambardi (Key and Loops)
Sergio Sampietro (Drums)
Alessio Accardo (Voice)
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