By: Gilbert Potts

AlithiA |  facebook |  bandcamp | 

Released on March 1, 2014 via Bandcamp

The resurgence of progressive rock in Australia continues to build, led by the likes of Karnivool, Dead Letter Circus and Breaking Orbit, and underpinned by a solid base of lesser known acts from all around Australia. Melbourne band AlithiA released their first full length, To the Edge of Time earlier this year and with it have found a much more consistent definition to their sound.

One of the first things that strikes you is the distinctly European flavour of their songs, with exceptional smoothness, drama and sense of occasion. It’s solid, but not intensely heavy going with its wings spending most of the album fully spread as it soars on the currents of air it creates. AlithiA still know how to ramp it up and make use of discord and variation in pace, slowing it right down in Sacrifice before soaring skyward once more. It’s how they build those rising currents with the subtle but complex layers that makes it feel so effortless. There’s no passage that grates, or feels overdone or incomplete or cheesy as they buck the trend toward bringing everything to the front of the mix, and stick with vocals up front, supported by a wall of sound and occasional flourishes and solos when the singer takes a break.

That’s not to say the wall of sound is white noise, and should you choose to you can still pick out individual instruments and follow them, so clear is the production. The violin in ‘Here I Am’, the gaida in ‘Thirteen Revelation’, the piano in ‘The Veil’ – none of these dominate yet they become an identifying feature of the song they appear in.

There’s some great use of melody, although opener ‘Thirteen Revelations’ lacks one clear phrase that becomes synonymous with the song. This is partly due to the length and the diversity of the song – it runs for 12 minutes and pushes ahead the whole way introducing new melodies and riffs as it goes rather than returning to earlier themes. Still, it doesn’t feel too disjointed or aimless because the transitions run so smoothly together. For the rest of the songs though there are immediately recognizable melodies that clearly identify each song.

AlithiA create a strong sense of ebb and flow that carries over to the feel of the record as a whole. Albums that run almost an hour can hit flat spots, but not here, and their solid grasp of how to finish off a song also extends to how to end an album.

Given the strong Central/South-Eastern European sound it’s not surprising that it was recorded and produced in Hungary or that the band has toured that part of the world a couple of times. Guest performances help fill out the songs here and there beautifully, but only work because the fundamentals are so strong.

The lack of intensity doesn’t stop this being an album you can lose yourself in with headphones on as you drink up every sound, but it has the advantage of being playable in the background and in a range of moods that a lot of progressive rock just doesn’t work in. It’s an important addition to the broadening tapestry that is Australian progressive rock.

AlithiA are currently on tour in Australia – check their Facebook page for details.

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