Ad Vitam means "Lifelong" in latin. They are an Italian progressive metal band formed in Sardinia. The band self-produced their first EP "Edge of Memory" and the Single "Groan of Life". Over the years Ad Vitam has the pleasure to play with bands like FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE, DESTRAGE, DEATHLESS LEGACY and FORGOTTEN TOMB. Now it is time for their first full length, Stratosfear.
For me, the sound wavers between two distinct poles: the playful extreme progressive of Devin Townsend and the classier aesthetic of more serious symphonic groups. The former is pretty apparent on the the lyrical namesake screams on "There Was Blood Everywhere," but pops up again frequently on tracks like "Inception." At first I felt like there was a bit of a clash, but the more I listened, the more it worked. I think the variety in mood works well in keeping the content interesting.
But when things do get serious, they are deadly so. Longer tracks like "Under a Cypress Root" and "Plagues of Nothing" have a more gothic, moody atmosphere that is slow and depressive. I think Ad Vitam do a good job of showcasing their variety in this way, but there are still some mild growing pains. The latter track in particular starts to drag a bit for me, and really the whole album is a bit overlong. Trimming a few minutes here and there cold have tightened things up a bit.
So am I saying to pass on Stratosfear? Absolutely not. For one, I tend to be pretty picky about the progressive metal albums I feature here, and Ad Vitam have created something here that snatched my attention pretty quickly. Perhaps more importantly, my taste in prog often differs from the more hardcore community, so I am willing to bet those people will like this more than I did. The symphonic instrumentation is not only solid, but unique. The guitars and drums work through excellent stylistic landscapes, and the vocals also take us through a number of presentations.
So if you're a L33T progger above my level, I think you'll dig Stratosfear. If you're a n00b progger like me, you'll also find a lot to enjoy here. Either way, you can check out the album on Youtube in addition to the tracks below, and purchase it through Revalve Records. It's been out since February.