ALTESIA - Embryo
Release Date: October 16th, 2021
Originally founded in 2017 as project by multi-instrumentalist Clément Darrieu, French proggers ALTESIA released their mesmerizing debut “Paragon Circus” in 2019. Two years later, their sophomore album “Embryo” is ready for our listening pleasure, and, supported by a successful crowdfunding campaign, out on October 16th, 2021. The conceptual idea behind “Embryo” can be seen as the luminous counterpart to “Paragon Circus”. While ALTESIA’s first record dealt with man’s self-destruction in our modern society, “Embryo” is a more spiritual record, an ode to self-discovery, and an invitation to introspection.
Opening with “Micromegas”, they give "Embryo" time to take shape. It’s a slow, thoughtful song, building up beautiful harmonies with violin, piano and guitar, on which the melody evolves. Next up is “Mouth of the Sky”, coming around with a surprisingly new, welcomed epicness thanks to the background orchestration, heavy guitar work, and a complex rhythmic, that sometimes even drifts into the death metal direction. The song develops in waves, changing mood and tempo, revealing how much the band members have grown as musicians.
And they don’t hesitate to proof it again: “The Remedial Sentence” brings in a great dynamic and variety. I enjoy these effortless switches between styles a lot, from heavy to jazzy to classical among others. Vocal-wise, we can hear Clément on the mic with an amazing range, as well as polyphonic parts, that are an important piece of ALTESIA’s sound.
The following “Autumn Colossus” is a melancholic song, performed with minimalistic instrumentation and a slow melody line. “Sleep Paralysis” starts a bit weak in my ears because of a change in the vocal expression, but it grows after the first minute thanks to the diverse song-writing, their sense for great harmonies, and a warmer tone in the voice. Next up is “A Liar’s Oath”, which has some Haken vibes during the verse. So we’ve reached the final piece "Exit Initia", being a 20+ prog epic, and I just want to invite you to explore it by yourself, as a lot is going on here. By picking up snippets as a reminiscence to “Paragon Circus”, they also build a connection to their debut.
Compared to their first album, it’s great to hear how ALTESIA further developed as musicians and composers, now offering more tempo, heaviness, and new stylistic elements, like background orchestration, death metal vibes or jazzy moments. I love these instrumental interludes, always adding a different mood to the songs. The vocals convince again with amazing melodies, just would have deserved more support by the mixing at some points. Guitars and keyboards offer plenty of virtuoso solo parts to enjoy, but also work perfectly together when they evolve the songs, so do bass and drums with their varied playing. With “Embryo”, the French band delivers a great second album, worth to dive in.
Written by Katha
Clément Darrieu - Vocals, Guitar
Alexis "Idler" Casanova - Guitar, Vocals
Hugo Bernart - Bass, Guitar
Yann Menage - Drums, Guitar, Vocals
Henri Bordillon - Keyboards
2. Mouth of the Sky
3. The Remedial Sentence
4. Autumn Colossus
5. Sleep Paralysis
6. A Liar's Oath
7. Exit Initia
Paragon Circus - 2019
Embryo - 2021