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4 stars This band have just recently come to my attention mainly because of their association with Magenta's Rob Reed who has helped oversee the release of this their debut album.Although labelled as 'neo prog' with occasional nods to Marillion the keyboards and melodies if anything remind me more of a heavier proggier version of Alan Parsons Project.

The ten tracks add up to a crowd pleasing 67 minutes with plenty of twists and turns to keep you involved. The band colectively are excellent especially the strong drumming adding a sturdiness to their music without ever enveloping it. Atmospheric and well produced, the songs are crafted in the best neo prog traditions. Although not as good as say IQ's Frequency this is a very promising debut effort that bodes well for the future.3.5 stars rounding up to 4.

Report this review (#438728)
Posted Monday, April 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars AltaVia are a new-ish prog band from Italy, formed in 2008, their original name was Ennerdale, but this was changed due to the tragic Lake District shootings in the UK. This their debut CD is the first release on the new prog label White Knight Records. The White Knight label is a joint venture between Rob Reed (Magenta) and Will Mackie (Hoggwash), such pedigree suggests that all releases on this label will deserve close attention. AltaVia's music is rich in melody and will doubtless appeal to most prog fans, comparisons to It Bites and Pendragon (even Rob's own Cyan !!) spring to mind, but this is an indication of the music's direction, for prospective buyers only, rather than suggesting plagiarism. Indeed there is a fresh and original feel to the music. There is also a British substance to the music that belies its Italian roots. The opening track 'Picture Frame' sets the pace wonderfully, very strong melodies edged with a tinge of hard rock and intriguing time signatures, few prog fans will dis-like this opening gambit. However, such a strong start gives the second track 'The Circle Gallery' a difficult airing. In fact 'The Circle Gallery' does open strongly but occasionally loses its way and doesn't flow and hang together as well as the opener, despite a strong melodic climax. The third track 'Another Lie' has a very strong and repeated ethnical theme that catches you hook , line and sinker and dispels any initial concern that the opening track was going to be the best moment. The album progresses through further strong tracks until it blissfully reaches its ultimate high point , parts 1 & 2 of the 'Wounded' suite, which nod more toward Yes and IQ prog territory. Whilst complex the melodies are again incredibly strong, parts of 'Wounded Part II' tear at your heart and play with it like a fair maiden would..... A great debut from an exciting new band on an exciting new label....give it a spin
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Posted Sunday, May 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Wow !!! Another great band from Italy with their debut album.

I interviewed the band earlier this year. But that interview did not fully prepare me for what hit me when I started to play this album.

Altavia play a blend of neo-prog with a distinctive Rock Progressivo Italiano flavour (Read: the vintage RPI tangent sound), Seattle rock aka Pearl Jam and AOR. One third of each, I would say. They sings in English and that gives this album a pretty English feel. Hence, a band like The Tangent is a very good reference.

The songs are pretty long and they are based on the bass, drums, guitars, vocals and tangent formula. Altavia has not reinvented the wheel. Their music is pretty conservative and based on trying to write good catchy melodies and their superb musicanship. Both the vocalist and the musicians is doing a superb job.

But where this album really scores well is in the melodies stake. All songs here are really great and based around the good melody combined with a lot of interesting details and excellent musicianship. Altavia throws a lot of spices into the mix. But always with an eye for the great melody. And they have succeeded.

From the first song/epic Picture Frame with it's excellent hooks to the final track Teleselezione, this album is a textbook in great songs.

This is a truly great album which everyone here who good melodies more than technical wizardry should check out.

4 stars

Report this review (#515950)
Posted Monday, September 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars AltaVia come from Bologna and began life in 2008 under the name Ennerdale on the initiative of keyboardist Andrea Stagni who was looking for new musicians after the split up of his previous band, Zabov. The first line up featured Andrea Stagni (keyboards, vocals), Marcello Bellina (drums, vocals), Mauro Monti, (guitar, vocals) and Giuliano Vandelli (bass) who were later joined by backing vocalist Betty Copeta. In 2010 they changed their name into AltaVia, a name referred to a particular kind of paths that you can find in the Alps, and released a debut album on the British independent label White Knight Records, "Girt Dog". The album was completely recorded in Andrea Stagni's home studio but the overall sound quality is good. The music could sound a bit derivative and too in debt with bands of the likes of Genesis or Marillion but you can find here some good ideas as well and I'm sure that neo prog lovers will enjoy this work.

The opener "Picture Frame" is a complex track with a melancholic mood. Some electric guitar riffs bring tension and touches of deep red colour while in the calmer sections you get lost in a rain of thoughts and ever changing black and white images. The following "The Circle Gallery" recalls Genesis and is like a frenzied running in a dark night, halfway between dream and nightmare. The dreamy "Another Lie" is the only track featuring some parts sung in Italian but they're used here as a kind of loop and in my opinion it's a real pity that the band did not exploit more the sound of their native language.

The wintry "My Me And You" flows away softly, following the sound of some footprints in the snow and a sense of colourful mystery. "In Another Way" is more aggressive, it's almost like a stampede from blown out dreams, looking for a better day. The reflective "Ghost Caged For Keepsake" evokes past memories and sounds while on "I'll Be There" the rhythm rises again, then revolves around a nice marching beat. Next comes the long, complex "Wounded" which is divided into two parts and combines lights and shadows, melancholic passages and waves of optimism. The short instrumental "Teleselezione" concludes an album with ups and downs from a very talented band that I'm sure will do better in the future.

Report this review (#875794)
Posted Saturday, December 15, 2012 | Review Permalink

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