Altaria - The Fallen Empire
Metal Heaven
Melodic Heavy Metal / Power Metal
11 songs (54'13)
Release year: 2006
Altaria, Metal Heaven
Reviewed by Marty
I know this one's a bit late, but I've been going through my list of last year's releases that we haven't reviewed yet and trying to fill in the "holes" so to speak. With most of the newer reviewers having interests in other genres of metal other than power/melodic metal, it's been hard to keep up with all the new releases. This year looks very strong for power/prog/melodic metal and we'll try to keep more on top of the new releases...promise!!

Finland's Altaria are back with their third album and for those who may be unfamiliar with them, they were formed by bass player Marko Pukkila and drummer Tony Smedjebacka who recruited guitarists Jani Liimatainen (Sonata Arctica) and Emppu Vuorinen (Nightwish) as well as lead vocalist Juoni Nikula (Requiem) and released their debut album Invitation in 2003. The second release Divinity was a much stronger effort and saw the debut of their new vocalist Taage Laiho as well as the departure of Emppu Vuorinen who needed to commit to Nightwish full-time. Guitarist JP Alanen (Celesty) was then brought in due to the departure of Jani Liimatainen, who also left in order to devote more time to his main band. Along with a new guitarist also came some very strong song writing ideas and they returned to the studio to record their third album The Fallen Empire. This album also features a guest solo by former Dio guitarist Rowan Robertson and some keyboards by Sonata Arctica's Henrik Klingenberg.

It was great to see the strong progression of this band from lack lustre Invitation to the very strong Divinity. With guitarists onboard from two of the top power/prog bands on the planet, you would expect the sort of results that were eventually yielded with Divinity. They weren't bringing anything to the table that hasn't been done to death in the melodic power metal genre, but there were vast improvements in the melodies and in the song writing. With The Fallen Empire, Altaria have taken more of a tangent down the melodic heavy metal pathway than power metal but overall, the song writing is still showing continuous signs of improvement with each album that they release. The album gets underway with Disciples, a very cliche ridden melodic power metal track that has a pounding and driving beat along the lines of either Yngwie or Axel Rudi Pell. The thundering heavy sections and an overall more "biting" guitar tone all work very nicely with the great melodic sense and solid chorus. Valley Of The Rainbows sees Altaria at it's finest hour. This one's an excellent example of their ability to write very strong melodic heavy metal. With Sonata Arctica like vocal harmonies, big fat slicing riffs and a chorus that will certainly get stuck in your head, this one gets my vote for the best Altaria track yet! Abyss Of Twilight ventures back and forth from prog metal stylings and power metal with its driving riffs and atmospheric keyboard effects, all topped off with yet another strong chorus. Frozen Hearts was the first single from this album and I believe that a video for it is still floating around the net somewhere. This one's Altaria's stab at a softer melodic hard rock style. It's a catchy track with a great chorus section and actually works very well within the context of the album. Other standout tracks include The Lion which also features a guest solo by guitarist Rowan Robertson (Dio). Another solid melodic heavy metal track, this one also has some nicely coloring by lots of lead guitar accents. The rest of the album pretty much follows the same formula of a mix of melodic heavy metal and power metal with strong melodic choruses and manages to keep the listener interested even if the first half of the album absolutely blows away the second half. The European version of this album has a bonus track entitled The Dying Flame which is an 8 minute epic featuring Sonata Arctica's Henrik Klingenberg on keyboards.

This album is a very enjoyable listen and one that was an easy one to review. There's nothing ground breaking or mind-blowing here, just solid melodic heavy metal with a big guitar sound and great overall production. It's the sort of album that has enough catchy melodies and choruses to make an instant impression on you. I found myself listening to this one a lot more than is normal for me to review an album. Whereas their last album Divinity leaned more towards melodic power metal, The Fallen Empire is a more melodic and driving heavy metal album and would be a great addition to your collection if you're a fan of the genre. Whether the fans of the band will embrace the new sound is yet to be seen. In recent news, the band has announced the departure of vocalist Juoni Nikula and stepping into the vacant slot is Marco Luponero. They played with Hammerfall recently and are opening for Lordi in February for a few shows before returning to the studio. The revolving door of band members coming and going continues and is not good for the stability and longevity of any band. Lets' see what the next album will bring...(Hopefully the album cover is better than this one...I don't normally comment on things like that but this one's plain awful!).

Killing Songs :
Disciples, Valley Of The Rainbows, Abyss Of Twilight and The Lion
Marty quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Altaria that we have reviewed:
Altaria - Divinity reviewed by Marty and quoted 82 / 100
Altaria - Invitation reviewed by Marty and quoted 68 / 100
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