Divine Invitation is kind of a best-of album from Finland's Altaria, documenting songs from all of their albums with all kinds of vocalists. The first five songs are from their 2003 album Invitation, featuring the impressive guitar work of former Sonata Arctica guitarist Jani Liimatainen as well as nimble bass by Emppu Vuorinen known for his work with Nightwish and Brother Firetribe. The vocals of Jouni Nikula differ vastly from those of Taage Laiho and current singer Marco Luponero. He is more laidback but does a good job during the melodic pieces whereas the songs sung by Taage Laiho (tracks six through ten) also have a more aggressive side to them. Even Liimatainen opts for a heavier vibe on these pieces, taken from Divinity. This album is by many considered Altaria's best era, with forceful guitar work, a diverse singer, and solid production values. The nice blend of keys and guitars and bass on "Unicorn" is quite impressive to say the least.
To spice things up, there are also two new pieces on the CD, titled "Keeper of Mystique" and "Ball & Chain", played and sung by the band's current lineup. These pieces carry a distinct heaviness to them, without abandoning the use of keyboards. Marco Luponero isn't as aggressive as Laiho, but he does project a fitting vocal style to suit the songs. There are more harmony vocals utilised, especially during the choruses, and the guitar work emphasizes crunchy rhythms more so than driving lead work. That said, "Ball & Chain" is more in the hard rock mould than the band's previously displayed signs of Euro power metal style. It will certainly be an interesting listen for long-time Altaria fans.
Tracks twelve through nineteen are older demo versions, again featuring different singers. Being merely demos, they sound no where near as refined and powerful as the studio versions, but it's certainly cool to see how songs like "Fire & Ice", "Innocent", and "Unicorn" sounded before being treated to a professional recording and mixing stage.
If you've never heard of Altaria, this disc may be a good starting point to get acquainted with their material. Without the contribution of Liimatainen, their last album was unfortunately a bitter disappointment, particularly in its monochromotic flow and cliched songwriting formulas. They certainly need more time and work to gel with their new lineup, so for the time being, Divinity is the album that warrants a listen unless you expect anything groundbreaking.
- Fire & Ice
- Unchain the Rain
- Darkened Highlight
- History of Times to Come
- Try to Remember
- Prophet of Pestilence
- Final Warning
- Keeper of Mystique
- Ball & Chain
- Fire & Ice (Demo 2001)
- Innocent (Demo 2001)
- Kingdom of the Night (Demo 2001)
- Unicorn (Demo 2002)
- History of Times to Come (Demo 2002)
- Immortal Disorder (Demo 2002)
- Emerald Eye (Demo 2002)