ALTAIR – DESCENDING: A DEVLISH COMEDY
When I first caught word of Italian power metal band Altair, the gamer in me automatically thought of Assassin’s Creed, and that alone made me want to check out Descending: A Devilish Comedy, which is actually the band’s second record. Upon further investigation, I found that the band describes the record as “a concept that runs through the circles of hell, which exist only in our minds, where all the fears, vices, virtues and the dark side of the human kind are shown in the form of a theatre comedy.” An interesting concept to be sure, but does the album actually deliver? Let’s find out. (Spoiler alert: Yes. The answer is yes. This album is fucking amazing.)
An instrumental track called “Descending” opens the album up nicely. It’s a haunting yet powerful way to begin a theatrical album. “Path of Worms” has some good old-fashioned groove to it, sounding very much like classic metal. Two tracks in and Altair have earned that power metal label, as far as I’m concerned (I know, I know, this is their second album and evidently they earned that label with their first one, but I didn’t hear that one, so sit down) and the track has a killer guitar solo to boot. Yep, I’m already hooked.
The third track “Limbo” continues to astound, the opening instrumental being just the right amount of melody laced with an upbeat punch. The vocals here ooze with an epic beauty. It’s dramatic, but it still manages to be heavy as fuck, and that dual drum kick in the beginning is perfect. “Seven” is the fourth track, and I know what you’re thinking: “But why isn’t “Seven” the seventh track?” Yeah, I know, I thought the exact same damn thing. It has some strong beats and haunting vocals from Simone Mala, and for these six and a half minutes you’ll feel like you’re at a rock opera. Hell, the whole album pretty much feels that way, but I guess that was their point.
There are some pretty sweet synths in “Godless” as well as another killer guitar solo. The melodies here are incredibly powerful. “Seed of Violence” has some amazing guitars, as both Gianmarco Bambini and Albert Marshall play off of each other with a dual lead style. There’s also some nice classical piano playing at the end there from Enrico Datta.
“Flame of Knowledge” starts off with more sweet synth before Simone hits the track with some very melodic vocals. The man’s vocal range is incredibly well suited to this type of music. Even the bass here shines with intensity. A nice groove kicks off “Frozen Graves” lending some strength to Simone‘s signature vocal sound. That groove turns into some pretty heavy shredding quickly enough, and the solos here are just as good as they’ve been throughout the rest of Descending.
Once you hit the bottom, you have nowhere to go but up. But first, have “A Lesson Before Ascending”. (See what I did there?) The album’s final track has a very powerful intro. Lots of string play leading into some more classical piano and almost balladesque vocals. This track is chock-full of gravitas, carrying more of a symphonic element to it, giving it a beautiful prog-rock feel.
Descending: A Devilish Comedy is a prog-laced powerhouse, with a list of songs that are fast-paced and complex while still being approachable. I didn’t exactly feel like I was descending into the depths of hell, as the concept attempts to portray, but I feel like that’s something that might be better accomplished if the album was accompanied by a visual medium. If I ever get the chance to see Altair live, you bet I’ll be there right in the front row. Even without a visual element though, Descending is an amazingly epic album that you need in your life. Final rating: 5.0 out of 5.0 axes!
2. Path of Worms
6. Seed of Violence
7. Flame of Knowledge
8. Frozen Graves
9. A Lesson Before Ascending
Simone Mala – Vocals
Gianmarco Bambini – Guitars
Albert Marshall – Guitars
Luca Scalabrin – Bass, Vocals
Enrico Datta – Keyboards
Simone Caparrucci – Drums
Check out Altair here:
Written by Mitch Ellerbrock for Bloodrock Media on October 28, 2017