Reviewed by Giacomo Anelli
Album: Elegia Balcanica
Label: Miner Recordings
Release date: 6 Ottobre 2014 in Serbia, worldwide in 2015
2. Callis Ad Astra
3. Galija 4. Vreme Je
5. Elegia Balcanica
6. Lilith (Ona Zna)
8. U Tišini
9. Intentionally Blind (bonus track w/ Amir Hadzic on vocals)
Listening to AlogiA’s new album ‘Elegia Balcanica’ is an exciting and mind-bending experience. The melodic depth and completeness of the musical work is impressive and, at times, overwhelmingly hypnotic. While the album marks a solid return to their progressive metal sound, there is much more here than the sub-genre suggests. The dual guitars, synth keys and pristine vocals take care of a top end that is clasped in the tight thundering undercurrent of the rhythm section. It is a majestic and heady mix that owes as much to power metal as it does to prog.
If the general feel is that of power and prog-metal, it is the more delicate work that owes at least a small comparison to the realms of space-rock. Synthy keys and jangling guitars bring some softness and introspection to the songs, helping to create the sense of a complete and mysterious musical universe.
I’m a sucker for a great track but even more so for a great album and right from the first two songs, ‘Almagest’ and ‘Callis Ad Astra’, there is a statement of intent made in the intensity and shadow-play of rhythm and melody. The dark symphonic spirals of the synth break out over the shredding guitars and angular time changes while the vocals lift the raw power to new and terrifying heights. Taken together at over 7 minutes, it is an epic start to what turns out to be an even more epic album.
‘Galija’ is a straight-up melodic gem, while ‘Vreme je’ is a powerhouse of riffs. There is no let up on intensity as the title track ‘Elegia’ growls and cuts through string-like synth parts and an anthemic chorus. There are some surprising and interesting elements here too, namely the influence of Balkan folk music, adding a new melodic shade to the bands already diverse sound. ‘Ona Zna’ sounds like a Balkan folk song filtered through Seventh Wonder and Iron Maiden while ‘Inferno’ is a power-prog brute-fest that leaves a welcome bruise upon the listener. ‘U Tisini’ is a satisfying end to proceedings with its delicate start and pulsating cinematic sound-scape.
The sign of a great album is whether or not it gets put on repeat in your own home and if it gets better with multiple listens. I had it on high rotate for a whole afternoon and evening and liked it straight away, loved it by the fourth listen and was totally hooked by repeat number ten. I can’t stress enough how intense the experience of this album is; worlds are being created, senses are stripped and rebuilt only to be stripped again by the attack of the music that Alogia create.
The vocal work on ‘Elegia’ is outstanding. Nikola Mijic’s voice comes soaring and clear over the pulsating melodies of the music. In true prog-metal style, the guitars bite off melodies in angular movements, blending technical skill with sombre tones and power-packed riffs.
If the guts of the beast is the bass and drums and the head is the vocals and keys, then the back-bone of the band are the brother guitarists, Miroslav and Srdan Brankovic. Their melodies weave and writhe together, at times spitting pieces of neo-classical riffs out above the music, always pulling the different strands of the music together into some kind of dynamic whole. It is not often that I find myself thinking of how tender the guitar work is on a metal album. But it is just that; tender yet brutal.
Hailing from Serbia, AlogiA have developed a considerable following in their home country since forming in 2000, playing support shows for the likes of Whitesnake, Savatage, Paul Di Anno and Apocalyptica, not to mention some considerable festival slots including Hendrix Fest, Hard ‘n’ Heavy and Metal Days. ‘Elegia Balcanica’, their fifth studio album, is the band at its very best and should hopefully get them the international interest they deserve. Buy it and put it on repeat. Let the music pull you into the dark and beautiful world of AlogiA, a place where all should dwell.
More information at https://www.facebook.com/alogia.official