Saturday, September 24, 2016

Almah - E.V.O (2016)

I have always been a believer of Almah, Edu Falashi's ex-side, now main project. In its early days, it tried to stand out from the crowded power metal genre, and it succeeded to a certain extent. Unfortunately, they took a couple of steps backwards with their latest album "Unfold", and while I have learned to appreciate it and its songs more now than on the day of release, I still feel like a lot of opportunities were missed by the band. It still leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

Let us put that behind us now, and instead focus on the new album, entitled "E.V.O", a concept album about human evolution. Well, it is kind of a loose concept, no real story what so ever, but it is kind of neat that the band found a theme to stand behind. It is a positive theme, and it is reflected very well in the music, which is some of the most cheerful music the band has ever created. It is basically the exact opposite to the dark and industrial "Motion", which is still my favourite Almah album to this date.

While the message from this album may be positive, my attitude leans more towards the negative. This is another step away from the interesting style the band had developed through their first three albums, and more of an approach to more traditional power metal. Sure, it still sounds very modern, and the Almah touch is there (buried deep somewhere), but the cheesiness level is at an all time high, so high in fact that it becomes unbearable at times. Just take "Infatuated" for example, a pompous song that feels way more suited for some pop band, maybe even something out of Eurovision Song Contest (which is kind of interesting since Almah is from Brazil). Simply disgusting.

And that is not the only dud in the album, because "E.V.O" is an uneven story, never holding a stable standard for too long. I am just baffled at some of these songs, like "The Brotherhood" and "Speranza", which literally sounds like Christmas carols. Seriously, replace the lyrics with a little Jesus here, and a little snow there, and you got yourself two hits for the holiday season. And then we have the opener, "Age of Aquarius", which I admit is a catchy song (with one of the best choruses on the album), but it just feels so weird. The lyrics are very close to ruining the song, completely throwing me off (although it should be mentioned that the lyrical department has never been the strong suit of Almah).

But here is the kicker. There are several songs in this album that is really good, much better than I expected. "Innocence" has a really nice flow to it, like the water that flows out of that urn in the cover art, "Pleased To Meet You" has some great tricks that gets you intrigued over it, and "Final Warning" has some nice heaviness to it. "Indigo" catches my interest as well, with some nice riffs, a memorable keyboard melody, and some cheesy, but incredibly catchy "yeahs", something that is sure to make James Hetfield jealous. We also have the closing song "Capital Punishment", arguably the fastest song on the record, and maybe even the best. It is catchy, epic, extremely well crafted and thought out. It is a surprise that they ended "E.V.O" on this note, but it is a welcome ending to an album that felt kind of frustrating.

Yes, "E.V.O" is an incredibly uneven album, and it is frustrating to see Almah give in to a more "normal" power metal sound, instead of improving their own unique sound. Still, "E.V.O" is a step in the right direction, a uplifting record that may not be the best I have ever heard, but it does have some gold in it that is worth digging for. The band still has a style that you can recognize them by, but they are close to losing it, or at least dragging it far down into the mud. It may not be a remarkable evolution, but "E.V.O" could be the start of a new beginning, which hopefully unfolds into something beautiful.

Songs worthy of recognition: Capital Punishment, Innocence, Indigo

Rating: 6/10 Corporate Wars

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