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Divinity was a crackin' slice of heavy power metal, but The Fallen Empire takes Altaria's mid-to-fast-paced, riff-oriented rocking sound and makes it a whole lot bigger and catchier while maintaining all the kickass-ness. Sorry about all the dashes. It's the best thing they recorded and all kinds of big smiles await fans of anything from Nocturnal Rites to Dream Evil.
The band got all diverse on this one, seeming to identify the one thing that Divinity was lacking a little in terms of songwriting. Opener 'Disciples' is an almighty first swing at your ears, with grand chugging guitars and gang-shouts from the band backing up Taage Laiho's vocal braun for six minutes of mid-paced epic metal.
Overall it's a more singalong album with more standouts and better songwriting. 'Valley of Rainbows' and 'Abyss of Twilight' really bring on the catchy, nearly rivaling 'Unchain the Run' in terms of pure fun. The former has a guitar solo that is easily one of the best on an Altaria song, and the latter song kicks butt from its stomping intro to its pummeling Priest-like verses. 'Crucifix' trots along with hungry guitar riffs and fast, rhythmic vocal lines from Taage that turn into a chanted Hammerfall-style chorus you may or may not like (I like it). The harmonized chorus of 'Outlaw Blood' is superb, and 'Access Denied' is an awesome '80s workout. 'The Dying Flame' is the second epic of the disc and also the album's closer, taking the epic one step further with some feral guitar solos wailing across the power chords of the opening and scene-setting acoustic guitars that build into an adrenalin-fuelled racing climax to the album with Taage's vocals sounding brilliantly aggressive during the verses.
It's not all gravy of course. 'Frozen Hearts' is a pretty dull power ballad type thing, and 'Showdown' is a bit too AC/DC which hardly gels with the band's more euro-metal sound. Apart from these the rest of the album is really quite solid, with every track bringing something I enjoy to the table - catchy riffs, catchy vocal melodies, often both, occasional and tastefully implemented moments of epic, and plenty of reasons to spin it again - I've been doing so since it came out during my first year of university. Considering how many times I've heard it this is a short review - but all there is to say in addition to the above is get it, if you like memorable choruses, NWOBHM and classic metal-referencing guitars and lots of traditional power metal flamboyance, this will make your week.
After Jani decided to leave the band, I was rather disappointed. Yet when The Fallen Empire came out, I went and bought it anyway, since I really liked their second album, Divinity.
Well, this album is truly good, and quite surprised me. It is on par as Divinity, really. Altaria’s music is not that heavy, a bit like Sonata Arctica or Stratovarius, without the fast double-bass song. So in itself, it is rather surprising that I like so much Altaria’s music, being an adept of faster songs (yeah, I like Dragonforce...).
Or is it that surprising? Because even if their album does not fall within my usual appreciation range, it is extremely well done. Everything is in its place. The guitar, the bass, the drums, the singing. The voice, in fact, is one of the best I heard, that guy is able to put emotions in it, yet without becoming mellow. And the new guitarist left Celesty for a band which sounds much more mature – less dragons, more substance. Good move, since he is quite talented.
The riffs are not bad, simple, yet efficient in their own right, and the melodies are sure to stay in your mind for long. They usually do not use a very aggressive distortion, which makes the songs sound more melodic. The bassist is not a milestone of the band, but its work is clearly more audible on this album than on many other albums in the same vein (probably due to the absence of keyboard on all songs but the Europe bonus – which is quite a good song, too bad for those who got another version...). Simply reading the titles of the song make me remember very clearly the melodies, and all compositions on The Fallen Empire are that memorable. The structure is quite simplistic, however, yet it does not feel like it. The songs are quite rockish at times, and there is one song that stands out as definitely not good, and it’s the Lion, but skip it and you’ll find an album almost without flaws.
The themes are often drifting into spirituality, without using the spiritual mumbo-jumbo à la Stratovarius, but still keep a fantasy approach that is quite unique. The song Crucifix is quite the standout on this album.
To conclude, this album is a good follow up to Divinity. It might not be as fast as Dragonforce or be that aggressive, its efficiency is undeniable.