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TRACK LIST: 1. Sanctum of the Symbol 7:03 2. Solid of Revolution 7:39 3. Root of Infinity 6:08 4. Penumbra 5:48 5. The Empty Set 9:41 6. Potamos 9:22 LINEUP: Alfredo Vicente – vocals Raul Valentine – guitars Rick Diaz-Albertini – bass Xavier Vanegas – drums
Prolusion. ALITHEIA is a US outfit that was formed in the summer of 2001, and the current line-up was established a few years later with the inclusion of Colombian drummer Xavier Vanegas. ”Chthonick” is their debut album, and was released in 2008.
Analysis. One has to admire bands that strive to think outside the box in terms of musical style or styles explored and in some manners Alitheia is such an act. Their chosen niche is a narrow one and the level of variation within it isn't too widespread, but in this case one might state that to some extent their endeavors are a proof of the "less is more" philosophy. When that is said, there are few simplistic elements to this production, and the niche they do venture into allows the band to serve up some vastly different sounding musical landscapes. Alitheia's chosen style resides somewhere in-between art rock and progressive metal, containing elements from both genres but not truly belonging to either of them. The guitar is the central, dominant, instrument in all the compositions, and it's utilized in a number of ways throughout – albeit at times within a somewhat predictable framework. The songs all venture back and forth between a few select segments, all exploring a landscape where the guitar sets the pace, mood and general atmosphere. Slow or mid-paced undistorted guitar solos are one of two such explorations, with echoing swirling guitar licks as one variation and highly melodic wanderings as the second variation visited. The other dominant form of the guitar has a basis in slow to mid-paced riff, with faster segments and drawn out riffs as the main elements. Disharmonic and dissonant textures are served up in both main forms at selected spots, used sparingly as effects; and several types of riff patterns are used when the guitar is in distorted mode, from simplistic staccato barrages to complex, quirky sonic tapestries with tempo variations and arrhythmic tendencies. The drum patterns add an element of complexity to all compositions, opting for the inventive and creative more frequently than the common, often providing a great deal of alternating patterns within each individual composition. The bass guitar gets its share of the limelight on regular occasions too, and especially when the guitar ventures into mellow territories the bass gets to serve up some nice, chunky segments, at times in a highly distorted and heavy manner. In the vocal department eccentric is the order of the day, in a manner that may be alienating for some potential fans. Vicente has a powerful, melodic voice; but often he chooses to not follow the main melody. As the vocals are mixed in an odd manner on these songs this may result in the singing appearing more off than it actually is and this may be a case of unlucky mixing rather than eccentric vocals – the end result is as it is though, whatever the actual cause may be. The compositions are all dark in atmosphere, ranging from almost gentle melancholic segments to the more distinct brutal landscape visited in the final tune Potamos, a creation coming across as an elaborate version of the music Venom made in the early ‘80s. The rest of the album follows a rather different style though, reminding me more of acts like the Italian band Monumentum in the calmer passages and Tool in the riff-based parts of the songs.
Conclusion. Alitheia excel in creating dark-tinged and at times rather complex compositions, mostly in the slow- to mid-paced range, in style somewhere between art rock and progressive metal, somewhat predictable at times, but inventive and creative nonetheless. What will make or break this creation are the vocals though; some will probably find them fascinating, while others most certainly won't. Still, this is a release that should be worth checking out further by those who think dark, melancholic art rock venturing into progressive metal sounds like a good thing, in particular if they like their music to be on the quirky side.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: March 4, 2009
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