Alterium – Of War and Flames Review

Alterium's Debut Album 'Of War and Flames': A Powerful Fusion of Melodic Power Metal and Symphonic Elements ...

Released By: AFM Records

Release Date: March 8th, 2024

Genre: Power Metal

Links: https://www.alterium.band/

 

Line Up:

Nicoletta Rosellini – Vocals
Paolo Campitelli – Guitars
Alessandro Mammola – Guitars
Luca Scalabrin – Bass
Dario Gozzi – Drums

 

Tracklist:

1. Drag Me to Hell

2. Siren’s Call

3. Of War and Flames

4. Firebringer

5. Crossroads Inn

6. Shadowsong

7. Crystalline

8. Heroine of the Sea

9. Chasing the Sun

10. Bismarck (Sabaton Cover)

 

 

When I discovered Italian power metal band Kalidia had split up, I was initially sad because of how good their sophomore release Frozen Throne was, and I thought they had a ton of potential to grow with future albums. However, not too long after that disappointing news, it was announced that vocalist Nicoletta Rosellini had formed a new band called Alterium, bringing along guitarist Paolo Campitelli and drummer Dario Gozzi, while welcoming Draconicon guitarist Alessandro Mammola and Altair bassist Luca Scalabrin. The band released a few singles before announcing their full length debut, Of War and Flames, and each of them had me hyped to hear how the full release would turn out. Now that I’ve heard it 10+ times, I can say, it both feels like a continuation of Kalidia, while also feeling somewhat fresh, and it’s sure to please fans of that band, while also being a great entry point for new fans.

Unsurprisingly, the main genre here is power metal, with a fair bit of symphonic metal, as well as perhaps some melodic metal. Kalidia started out as a gothic infused power metal band, before introducing quite a bit of symphonic metal into their sound on Frozen Throne, and that continues here, though I found it’s used to varying degrees from track to track, with some tracks such as the opener “Drag Me to Hell” and “Firebringer” being pure speedy power metal, while others such as Siren’s Call” and “Heroine of the Sea” feel more symphonic, and then there’s the title track, which offers a perfect blend of the two. Suffice to say, there’s a good amount of variety to the tracks, with some following closely with the formula Kalidia used a lot in their music, while others have a far more guitar driven, classic power metal sound, and of course there’s also a ballad, as well as a cover song, which I’ll discuss in more detail much later. Regardless, songwriting is quite varied, but it remains excellent throughout the album, with every track striking a balance between being consistently engaging the whole way through, and also having some great individual moments.

One big difference between the two, is that Alterium are much more guitar driven than the aforementioned band ever was. There’s still some keyboards to be found here, don’t get me wrong, and they do somewhat lead the way on a couple tracks, but guitars never fade into the background here, and on the majority of the tracks they play a leading role, with dual guitarists Paulo Campitelli and Alessandro Mammola both delivering some fantastic melodic lead guitar work, awesome riffs and some technically impressive but very melodic guitar solos. I’d say this album is also slightly heavier than I was expecting, at least at times. It never gets overly aggressive, but there are bursts of heaviness to be found on most tracks, mixed in between all the amazing melodic lead guitar work. The music often has a very classic power metal feel to it, mixed in at times with some epic, cinematic symphonic metal and more modern sounding melodic metal. Nicoletta Rosellini is in top form,with her deep, super smooth voice being as strong as ever, sometimes adding in a bit of extra fire and intensity, while other times dialing it back for more of a light, pop infused style. She sounds fantastic at all times, and is obviously one of the band’s biggest strengths, along with the excellent guitar work. Production is flawless all around, and performances are excellent across the board, with each musician doing their job wonderfully.

No time is wasted with intros of any kind, as the album kicks off with the explosive lead single “Drag Me to Hell”,one of the speedier, more guitar driven tracks, with a very classic power metal sound. The track opens with a quick drum roll, then the guitars kick in and instantly have that kind of melodic, classic power metal sound going, and this continues throughout a speedy, super fun opening verse, which leads into a very melodic and catchy chorus, which keeps up the pace, while bringing in a bit of keys and some light symphonic elements. There’s one slow section towards the end, with a somewhat pop infused vocal part, but that leads into an epic guitar solo and the song quickly gets back to power metal territory. Overall, it’s a fun, explosive opener, and one of my favorites on the album. Next is “Siren’s Call”, which very much feels like a Kalidia song, except with the keys replaced by some very soft and melodic guitars as the leading instrument. It alternates between slow, calm verses, with strong vocals, and an epic, cinematic chorus where the symphonic elements fully kick in and the track speeds up into full power metal tempo. The chorus is the highlight, thanks to the cinematic feel of the symphonic elements as well as some excellent vocal melodies, though it’s a great song all around, and feels familiar and fresh at the same time, in a very good way.

Another very cinematic sounding track is the title track, which almost sounds like Nightwish early on, with the slow, epic cinematic symphonic metal on display. Heavy guitars kick in for the opening verse, as the track continues to move at more of a relaxed tempo, though more melodic leads kick in as we head into the chorus, and from there the double bass drums go full speed ahead, and it turns into another epic, super catchy symphonic power metal chorus. This track mixes both styles together fluidly, with the speedier passages and slower passages being equally impressive, and it’s another one of my personal favorites. One of the most pure power metal tracks on display is “Firebringer”, which is also one of the most keyboard driven tracks here. The keys have a very modern sound to them and are a bit flashy, but very well done, and they lead for a bit, until the guitars kick in for an explosive, fast-paced opening verse, with some powerful vocals. The chorus slows things down a bit, and is very soft and melodic, but still has some of that classic power metal feel to it, while the solo section in particular is very classic sounding and is one of my personal favorites on the album.

Things slow down a bit with “Crossroads Inn”, another very symphonic infused track, though it’s less cinematic and more fun and somewhat relaxed, moving at a fairly moderate tempo throughout. It has somewhat of a fantasy film score feel to it, and is clearly meant to be a tavern song, as that’s exactly what the lyrics are all about. The verses have bursts of heavy guitar work, while the chorus is very light, melodic and carried by the symphonic elements, as well as some light and very beautiful vocals from Rosellini. It took some time to grow on me, probably more than any other original track on the album, but it is a great track, overall. Another personal favorite is “Shadowsong”, which opens up rather calmly, with some soft, very melodic guitar work and marching drums, before the guitarists start shredding and drums charge ahead, for a very up tempo opening verse, once again presenting a classic, high energy power metal sound, while the chorus is a bit softer and more melodic, but still keeps the frantic pace going. The vocals are excellent as always, but the instrumental work really stands out on this track, with the drums fluidly switching between slow to fast very quickly and effectively, and the guitarists really get to shine, both during that opening sequence and the solo section, which is probably the most explosive and most technically impressive instrumental section on the album.

The lone ballad of the album is “Crystalline”, and it’s another winner. It starts out with some soft piano, before a very beautiful guitar solo kicks in, and from there it turns into a light piano ballad during the opening verse, with some very light and beautiful vocals, before the guitars kick in later on, and then the chorus has a much bigger sound, with some epic symphonic elements thrown in. It’s a very vocal driven track, and Rosellini is at the top of her game, starting off softly before going all out towards the end, and she does a fantastic job, as always. Another somewhat laidback track is “Heroine of the Sea”, one of the more cinematic and symphonic sounding tracks on the album. It again has a very Nightwish feel to it, moving at a fairly subdued pace throughout, with light guitar work paired with epic symphonic arrangements. The verses are fun and story driven, while the chorus is cinematic and has a larger than life feeling to it, with some huge melodies. It’s a very fun and catchy track, with some fantastic melodies and vocals, though the instrumental work is still great, but largely plays a secondary role.

One last original track is “Chasing the Sun”, another track which fluidly blends symphonic and power metal elements together. It starts off with some bass and symphonic elements, before the guitars and drums kick in and it goes full speed for a fun, fast moving opening verse, but then it slows down again for another epic chorus, where the cinematic symphonic elements take over. There’s not much to say about it, except that it’s another great track, with the chorus being an obvious highlight, though the explosive verses and instrumental sections are also fantastic. Closing out the album is “Bismarck”, a cover of a standalone single by none other than one of my all time favorite power metal bands, Sabaton! Yeah, obviously any band trying to cover them is going to be at an immediate disadvantage from me, simply because I love their sound and vocals so much, it’s practically impossible for me to like anyone else playing their songs nearly as much as I enjoy the band themselves doing it. With that being said, Alterium have done a valiant job of covering the song, mostly playing it straight, though maybe going slightly heavier with the symphonic elements. The overall dark tone and mood of the song is still in full effect, though, and the epic guitar work and drums are matched quite well. Obviously, the toughest aspect to nail down was always going to be the vocals, especially for a female fronted band, because Joakim Broden has such a deep, manly voice, but Rosellini does a very good job, clearly sounding a bit uncomfortable with how low she has to sing at times, but overall she sounds quite good, and manages to pull it off nicely. It took several listens to grow on me, but over time I’ve come to like the cover a great deal. Sabaton still does it better, though, of course.

Overall, Of War and Flames is an excellent debut, largely continuing on from where Kalidia left off, presenting a melodic power metal album with a nice mix of speedy passages and more subdued passages, though on the whole it’s a bit heavier and more guitar driven than expected, while still having some keys and continuing on with the trend of adding in more symphonic elements. It’s a nicely varied album, which should please fans of both power metal and symphonic metal, and obviously fans of the aforementioned band are sure to find a lot to be excited about with this album. Hopefully this band can last far more than two albums, but either way, I’ll definitely be excited to hear more from them in the future!

 

Ratings: 9/10

Written by: Travis Green

My Global Mind – Staff Writer

Travis Green is a Canadian based writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest metal in all its forms.

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