Altered Sky – Without Wonderland

altered-sky-without-wonderland-album-coverWe’ve had a love / hate relationship with Altered Sky up until now. On one hand is the infectious songs and the larger than life personalities, but on the other is our mixed experiences at live shows and the constant pushing of sponsorships and endorsements which really put us off them.

I’m not putting down anybody gaining sponsorship or endorsements; in fact quite the opposite – well done for clearly making enough of a splash for others to get behind you – however the overtly commercial pushing of the sponsorship left us wondering the intent and credibility of the band as it all felt overly manipulated and a bit “fake”.

Perhaps a separate discussion on endorsements and sponsorship is required as this isn’t a scathing broadside on Altered Sky. Actually, it’s about that uncomfortable disquiet on their intent being overshadowed by a respect for the songs they have in their arsenal, and ultimately the band itself. Their self-produced debut album Without Wonderland landed last week and is more than just a little bit good.

The opening trilogy of ‘This War Is Mine’, ‘Stupid in the Dark’ and ‘Apple Tree’ is a disarming combination and sets out the schematic of what Altered Sky are about. The songwriting on display within just these three is enough to prop up any album, however the quality continues for the most part throughout the album.

It’s not all killer and no filler however and a track or two do sound a bit samey, not having the same punch. However in an album which mostly hits the mark this is a minor irk. In contrast, one place where the band moves away from their recognisable style which pays off in spades is in ‘Imagine Adventure’. The song is head and shoulders above every other song on the album. Different in almost every way from everything else here, this piano-driven ballad showcases Ana Nowosielska’s vocal which is nothing short of splendid. It’s a shame the strength of her vocal ability is not at the forefront of the other songs on the album (where she sounds good); as here she sounds stunning.

After a good few listens, opinion on the album hasn’t wavered; they have the songs to kill any question of credibility. Without Wonderland is an upbeat album which is extremely well produced, showcasing the breadth and depth of who the band are in 2015 and exudes the exuberance of youth. This, coupled with their openness and interaction with fans online and at shows, it’s easy to see why Altered Sky are a band that people get behind and love.

It will be interesting to watch their growth and see if some of those earlier elements which turned us off are toned down, or simply we are old grumps who spotted it, felt uncomfortable and saw it for what it truly was; a distraction and derogatory to what the band has to offer.

Gareth Fraser
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