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With the open-ended suspension of Angra's recording and touring activities in 2007, vocalist Edu Falaschi's parallel band, Almah, suddenly graduated from vanity project to serious concern between albums one and two; but the eventual resumption of Angra's career and ensuing four-year gap prior to album number three, 2012's Motion, raised numerous questions about the state of Almah's musical health. Alas, fans need not have worried, because this may well be the group's strongest showing yet. Neither predictable nor overly melodic, aggressive but progressively inclined numbers like opener "Hypnotized," the oddly named "Zombies Dictator," and "Trace of Trait" trace sonic parallels to everyone from Nevermore to Evergrey to Into Eternity to Ripper Owens' sadly short-lived Beyond Fear project -- and they're positive parallels at that. Fluttering synths join the fun on "Soul Alight" and "Living and Drifting," where Falaschi's Bruce Dickinson influences are particularly evident, and additional keyboard orchestrations lend lush beauty and pomp to the stunning "Bullets on the Altar." But the album's single best moment is arguably saved for the unfortunately named "Days of the New," which, despite referencing one of the worst bands of all time, provides a spectacular blend of pure metallic power, both physical and emotional, wed to actual hooks as sticky as bubble gum. And while a few late-album cuts like "Soul Alight" and "Late Night in ‘85" sneak by with little to recommend them, there's not a single outright blunder to be found here -- not even the closing acoustic oddity, "When and Why" -- and one can't say that about many full-time bands, never mind so-called "side projects." So don't underestimate Almah, or Falaschi's commitment to it, regardless of his continued focus on the mighty Angra.

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