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Alithia – The Moon has Fallen

 

Alithia – The Moon has Fallen

Saying that Australian band Alithia is a prog band is both an understatement and a criticism. As progressive music increasingly becomes a case of shade and light, the spoken and the screamed lyrics, it’s a criticism of a band with the depth and talent of Alithia to put that tag on them. It’s also an understatement to just say prog because they need to be in a segment all of their own. They are smart, hardworking and take risks largely without a net. They just jump. If you need any evidence of that go see them live.

I last saw Alithia in support of Leprous. Here’s the Norwegians on stage, immaculately dressed and standing behind the Moog swaying, then a couple of steps back for a deep, but contained, head bang. They had been preceded onstage by Alithia, who had turned up minus a vocalist, and produced an instrumental set that created a buzz for everyone there watching it. Part raw talent and part rambling stage show, it was spontaneous, fierce and put the band out there for everyone to see, take it or leave it. Everyone took it and it burned so bright that Leprous seemed, well, dull by comparison.

So here we are then the new album, The Moon has Fallen. I’ll be as straight up as the band are and tell you it’s a great album, one of the best this year, and comfortably so. But seeing these guys live there is magic missing. That hedonistic, reckless, tribal craziness just isn’t here. Again, and I’ll go through it, this is a fine album but there are lots of production techniques for capturing a bands essence but this album does not capture the sum of all the varied parts that this band is. If this band did capture its onstage persona they would be unstoppable. This album, when compared to what they do on stage, is very safe.

At just under eleven minutes the opening track, The Sun, is a prog start with five minutes of faffing before we get to the vocal. It’s so controlled and restricted you just want it to let loose, get on with it. At nine minutes it does and there is Alithia, top playing, powerful and a driving force, It’s the band I saw on stage in rAdelaide just letting loose but nine minutes to get there makes you think more of opportunity lost than given. As we drive into Empress it is on again. Great overdriven base opening and you can hear the two distinct drums that rhythmically set this band apart. The vocal starts and the brakes are on. The song does pick up and it’s a top tune but again it feels like there is so much in reserve.

And that’s very much the story of this album. Top tracks. Diamonds is a winner every day of the week but all very safe. Beautifully done and mesmeric but where are the demons of the stage? I could go on and give an argument of why this is potentially one of the top three Australian releases of the year. I could tell you that these songs are collectively great and that they are crafted and produced within an inch of their lives. You could stream this on your daily commute and it would provide that soothing soundtrack to calm the most fevered state. But go see this band live and it lives with you. Raw, tribal, hypnotic and no holds barred. This album represents fine writing and top production but does not give the full story of a band that should be celebrated as one of the best Australia has ever produced.

Review – Craig Grant