AlogiA - Elegia Balcanica

(CD 2014, 35:29, Miner Records)

The tracks:
  1- Almagest [instrumental](3:31)
  2- Callis ad Astra(4:12)
  3- Galija(3:58)
  4- Vreme je(3:18)
  5- Elegia Balcanica(4:34)
  6- Ona zna (Lilith)(3:14)
  7- Inferno(3:56)
  8- U tisini(5:49)
  9- Intentionally Blind (bonus)

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AlogiA is a power metal/ progressive rock band from Serbia who have been on the scene since 2000. They have been support acts for Whitesnake, Apocalyptica and Savatage and performed in many important festivals such as Hendrix Fest, Hard 'n' Heavy, Exit Fest and Metal Days. In past years, the band has released four studio albums and one live CD and one live DVD. With such a list of musical honours and a back catalogue of so many releases you might say they might be known by now in the current music scene. Well, that's not completely true. As for myself, I wasn't even aware of them at all, but with the release of their fifth studio album Elegia Balcanica (Balkan Elegy) the ball seems to be rolling. The album was released in Serbia only on October 6th and it's scheduled to be released worldwide in early 2015.

The band's line-up on their latest album consists of the following people; Nikola Mijic on vocals, Srdjan Brankovic on guitars, Miroslaw Brankovic on guitars, Vladimir Ranisavljevic on bass, Vladimir Dedovic on keyboards and Srdjan Golubica on drums. All together they managed to provide a rather good sounding album-an album which is a total time of a half hour and a couple of minutes way too short. However, while listening to those minutes of music you don't get the feeling that that they could have included much more enjoyable music on this release. Because enjoyable it is-certainly in what you hear on the nine tracks that are included.

First, we should clarify that the musicians of this band know their stuff. The arrangements of each track are masterful, and the order in which the tracks are developed in the course of the album helps to create a continuous flow, well in line with the tone of the music and the aesthetic choices from the group. The group chooses its own language to write the lyrics which gives an absolutely unique flavour to their blend of power metal, Balkan folk and progressive rock. One of the qualities of this group is they know how to balance their more "progressive" and experimental side with their more "catchy" side: it is not something that happens every day to find a record with songs of the classic "extended play" typically, usually combined with songs that range from three or four minutes within the same work! For example, the more progressive rock sounding tunes are the opening piece Almagest, Elegia Balcanica, Inferno and U Tišini. On those songs the bands comes music wise close to the likes of Dream Theater, Andromeda, Symphony X and Kamelot. The more catchy sounding tunes are songs such as Galija, Vreme Je and Ona Zna (Lilith) which remind me of the more commercial compositions done by Nightwish, After Forever and the many power metal bands. The Nightwish comparison can be heard most of all on Galija because of the wonderful voice of Andjela Isic who duets with Nikola Mijic. Too bad that on those more catchy songs the tempo is sometimes too fast and the double bass drums are used too much. Overall I have no problems with the way vocal parts are done in their native language but from time to time I got the impression I was listening to a Japanese rock band. In the land of the rising sun lead singers tend to use their voice the same kind of way as Nikola does on this album. Therefore it is advised to sing in English on the bands future releases. That this sounds way better proves the bonus track. This track Intentionally Blind is a real surprise. When you thought you have already heard an incredibly wide range of sounds, this final track sweeps in areas still unexplored. The song was written by the bands mastermind Srdjan Brankovic. It seems he is a large admirer of death metal. He wrote it in memory of Chuck Schuldiner. He was an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist in the band Death. He died in December of 2001 as a result of brain cancer. The song is a perfect mix between death metal and progressive rock. In which the voice of Amir Hadzic (Silent Kingdom) provides the death grunts and Nikola the clean vocals. All done in English! As you might guess, the song is quite different from those that preceded it. This final track absolutely sounds natural to me and further enriches the album, undoubtedly.

This fine blend of power metal, Balkan folk and progressive rock worked most certainly for me. They made-of their probable influences taken from Dream Theater, Andromeda, Symphony X, Kamelot. Nightwish, After Forever and the many power metal bands-a pleasant sounding melting pot-a melting pot which certainly asks for much more kinds of music in the not too far future! Although, next time, I'd say go easy on the double bass drums, record vocals in the English language and add a bit more music on the next release. I guess I don't ask too much, do I?

**** Henri Strik (edited by Robert James Pashman)

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