AltaVia come from Bologna and began life in 2008 under the name Ennerdale on the initiative of keyboardist Andrea Stagni who was looking for new musicians after the split up of his previous band, Zabov. The first line up featured Andrea Stagni (keyboards, vocals), Marcello Bellina (drums, vocals), Mauro Monti, (guitar, vocals) and Giuliano Vandelli (bass) who were later joined by backing vocalist Betty Copeta. In 2010 they changed their name into AltaVia, a name referred to a particular kind of paths that you can find in the Alps, and released a debut album on the British independent label White Knight Records, “Girt Dog”. The album was completely recorded in Andrea Stagni's home studio but the overall sound quality is good. The music could sound a bit derivative and too in debt with bands of the likes of Genesis or Marillion but you can find here some good ideas as well and I'm sure that neo prog lovers will enjoy this work.
The opener “Picture Frame” is a complex track with a melancholic mood. Some electric guitar riffs bring tension and touches of deep red colour while in the calmer sections you get lost in a rain of thoughts and ever changing black and white images. The following “The Circle Gallery” recalls Genesis and is like a frenzied running in a dark night, halfway between dream and nightmare. The dreamy “Another Lie” is the only track featuring some parts sung in Italian but they're used here as a kind of loop and in my opinion it's a real pity that the band did not exploit more the sound of their native language.
The wintry “My Me And You” flows away softly, following the sound of some footprints in the snow and a sense of colourful mystery. “In Another Way” is more aggressive, it's almost like a stampede from blown out dreams, looking for a better day. The reflective “Ghost Caged For Keepsake” evokes past memories and sounds while on “I'll Be There” the rhythm rises again, then revolves around a nice marching beat. Next comes the long, complex “Wounded” which is divided into two parts and combines lights and shadows, melancholic passages and waves of optimism. The short instrumental “Teleselezione” concludes an album with ups and downs from a very talented band that I'm sure will do better in the future.
AltaVia: Girt Dog (2010). Other opinions:
Richard Haydon: This band have just recently come to my attention mainly because of their association with Magenta's Rob Reed who has helped oversee the release of this their debut album.Although labelled as 'neo prog' with occasional nods to Marillion the keyboards and melodies if anything remind me more of a heavier proggier version of Alan Parsons Project... (read the complete review HERE).