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Almah
Almah
Type: CD
Company: Candlelight
Release: 2007
Genre: Power
Reviewer: Vinaya Saksena
Published: 11/9/2007
Worth checking out for power metal fans willing to try something different
Before I get into discussing this album, I would like to offer a bit of (somewhat) constructive criticism to whoever wrote up its press release: Do a little bit of simple fact-checking next time! The press release indicates that Almah vocalist Edu Falaschi joined Brazilian power metal greats Angra "for their 2006 album, Aurora Consurgens.' No he didn't! He joined in time for 2001's Rebirth, shortly after Angra's original lineup literally split into two bands. While this may not seem like a major oversight, it completely overlooks what I feel is perhaps their best album ever, and a highlight of the metal scene in recent years: 2004's Temple of Shadows.

One reason I wanted to drive that point home is that Temple of Shadows in particular is a good reference point for Almah, an album that has many potential reference points, perhaps too many to be sensibly connected to anything in the Angra catalog. But then, Angra, in recent years, had become a band with an increasingly diverse sound, making this metallic smorgasbord of an album seem like less of a departure when one considers where Falaschi's main band had been headed. Here he takes a leap even further afield, beyond the boundaries of what is supposedly allowed in Angra's sonic stew.

Almah is a power metal supergroup of sorts. Joining Falaschi for this trip through some of hard music's more exotic locales are Nightwish guitarist Emppu Vuorinen, Stratovarius bassist Lauri Porra and Kamelot drummer Casey Grillo. The result is something quirky, modern, in-your-face and daring in its sonic scope, making this band tough to pigeonhole indeed. Listen to Almah and you will hear uptight, hyper takes on modern metal, vaguely tribal-sounding drum patterns, radio-rock production values and smooth, pastoral balladry amongst the eleven tracks enclosed. Things start off a bit panicky and confused on "King,' which combines a vaguely bluesy (but heavy and down-tuned) riff with a decidedly non-bluesy everything else into a confused but enjoyable up-tempo stomper, like an insomniac awakened by an alarm clock blasting Slayer at five in the morning. Argh! What's going on here?!?!?!

The rest of the album seems a bit more sensible, perhaps due to getting one of the album's most potentially jarring tracks out of the way early, or the listener simply becoming accustomed to this sonic nuttiness. The pleasures to be had are numerous and varied, from massive prog metal dirge that kicks off "Children of Lies,' to the excellent, atmospheric ballad "Forgotten Land,' to "Breathe,' which almost sounds like a lost track from U2. Throughout, the songwriting standard is high, meaning that as diverse as the album is, Almah never quite lapses into filler.

The only criticism I would level at the album itself is the production, which to me sounds a little too techy and mainstream in some places (the drum sound ain't too hot either, in my opinion). Still, this is well worth checking out for power metal fans willing to try something different, or anyone who can appreciate the type of multi-faceted, world-conscious metal that Angra has been dabbling in with increased frequency in recent months. Note: Almah will apparently be touring a bit, albeit with only Falaschi remaining from the lineup heard here. In fact, the touring lineup is now 3/5 of Angra, leading to rumors of Angra's breakup, though band members have since reported that these reports of their band's death have been greatly exaggerated.
About this Writer:
Vinaya Saksena // Vinaya is either a writer who dabbles in guitar playing, or a guitar player who dabbles in writing. A Maximum Metal staffer since 2004, he has also served as a reporter for several newspapers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Although his obsession with music is such that it does not allow time for much else by way of hobbies, he also enjoys traveling, trivia, photography, British comedy and the occasional A-Team re-run.

Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



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AlmahAlmah
2007
Vinaya Saksena11/9/2007


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