Almah: Motion

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Almah: Motion
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Almah: Motion
Melodic Power Metal
Laser Company / AFM Records (US)
September 16th, 2011 / January 17th, 2012 (US)
Release length: 44:30
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Originally just a side project band, Almah from São Paulo, Brazil have become more of a permanent fixture in the Power Metal community lately. With a good deal of positive remarks found for the group’s first two albums, and a single leading up to the second, the band had gained a great deal of momentum from the start. In many circles, the group’s third full-length offering, Motion, had become a well anticipated release, and saw light towards the end of 2011 overseas, having a 2012 due date in North America through AFM Records. But, does Motion live up to their fans expectations?

Given some of the positive press the band has received up to this point, it’s obvious that a little extra would be sunk into the production of the album. Motion has a pretty good sound to it, but it’s still a little muffled. The music here is clearly podded a little too loud compared to the vocals, which are a clean singing that feels drowned by the guitars and drums that seems to cover it up just enough that you make out what is being sung, but not enough to be heard properly. The drumming being of a louder quality, however, is something that can work in the band’s favor given the more region-oriented patterns implemented on some songs. The bass kicks are loud with an obvious click against some snares that are about the same volume as the singing, while the cymbals crash loudly against the deeper riffs that greatly dominate the mix. The slight edge the distortion brings helps to make the songs sound a little deeper, working well with the present bass that can easily be picked out amid the other instruments. Honestly, it’s not all bad, but having the instruments a little lower would have been nice. Granted, it does benefit some tracks, such as “Bullets On the Altar” that finds the band utilizing a little more atmosphere in their material, but there are just not enough songs which do that to make it a must for the entire release.

Which is sad since those atmospheric tracks are really the more powerful and impressive songs here. “Bullets On the Altar” goes at a bit of a slower pace, and really brings in a mournful tone that plays on the listener’s emotions from start to finish, especially the slightly more dynamic conclusion to the song that doesn’t feel to over-the-top for the sake of being that grand. You also have “Zombies Dictator” that finds a mixture of a self-empowering sound amid the heavier chords that better suits the struggled emphasized in the song, met with varying breakdowns that portray a more punishing sound to the desperate tones that do come up. The chorus here is largely a melodic dose once again that doesn’t quite live up the harsher, more aggressive tones of the song, but the transition in and work does work to make it feel fluid, and it still does retain a darker tone to match the song’s overall environment. “Soul Alight” doesn’t cater to that darker tone “Zombies Dictator” had, but it definitely remains heavy with a strong keyboard presence that sets up more of an astral setting, especially in the lighter chorus that finds a greater fit to the vocals of the album. Again, the less rich music really allows them to come through on this song, and even when the music does pick up it never gets too loud, though does end up going off into heavier, darker corners that it never really needed to. This venturing off into darker sounds or breakdowns that don’t fit happen a little more often than you would want to think, and it does end up being one of the aspects of Motion that can greatly hurt the atmosphere and it’s effect on the listener.

But, when you kick Motion off, this is not what you are given. Instead you end up greeted with “Hypnotized,” which isn’t too bad, but doesn’t really have any sort of passionate pull to it, and while a good song, it ends up just not being anything too amazing. This is largely in part of the loud guitars. The heavier music is nice and catchy from the start, but the vocals end up being secondary, which causes them to be drowned out enough that there is more of a generic feel to them against music that isn’t anything too impressive aside a few bridges and the chorus. This isn’t to say all the songs that sound heavier are like this, as others that manage to bring in a little more melody to the mix really help things out a lot. “Living and Drifting” follows this track up nicely with some additional keyboards and catchier, hook-driven Power Metal riffs that immediately grab the listener and make you want to head bang along to its infectious melody. There’s a strong vocal performance involved here as well that doesn’t quite feel as generic as the last track, and the deeper chords allow for a slightly lower volume to the music that lets the singing and harsher vocal tones come through everywhere outside the shorter chorus. “Daydream Lucidity” is another heavier track that finds the music a little less loud. This works well in the long run given the more Progressive Rock vibe that is given from the additional keyboards that come through, though far less astral projecting in a sense compared to “Trace of Trait.” Eventually, the aforementioned out-of-nowhere heavier breakdown does kick in and kind of upsets the tone before going into a more technical guitar solo, which eventually shifts the band’s sound into a far more Groove Metal approach, cluttering this perfectly enjoyable track by the time you reach the half-way point.

There’s no denying Motion has some flaws to it, but at the same time those issues seem to stem from what sounds like Almah pushed a bit away from their Melodic Power Metal roots in favor of a strong Progressive Metal/Rock sound. In many ways it works, but in others it simply doesn’t. There are plenty of shifts between atmospheric music into heavy breakdowns that don’t work out, and given the volume level of the music this time around, it really can sound like too much and hinder the vocals somewhat, making them sound a little more generic. But, with those faults addressed, Almah still do a good job on this, and load it with plenty of solid songs that are both catchy and empowering. Fans of Power Metal will surely feel a good surge of energy off this one, as the band’s performance here really sounds like they are enjoying themselves with each track, and you never get the impression from them, or the music, that anything on here is meant to be filler, not even the acoustic Southern Rock piece “When and Why” that closes the album out quite differently than anything else, but still carries a good deal of emotion that you could easily find throughout the album as well. If you haven’t heard Almah, than this is not the best place to start off, but there’s no denying Motion is a release that is still worth checking out at some point.

01. Hypnotized – 5:16
02. Living and Drifting – 4:01
03. Days of the New – 4:38
04. Bullets on the Altar – 4:32
05. Zombies Dictator – 4:39
06. Trace of Trait – 4:25
07. Soul Alight – 4:19
08. Late Night in ’85 – 3:44
09. Daydream Lucidity – 5:12
10. When and Why – 3:44
Overall Score: 7.5/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by AFM Records via Earsplit PR.