Altaria - Biography




ALTARIA's story began in the beginning of year 2000 when Marko Pukkila and Tony Smedjebacka decided to form a new outfit. Both musicians have participated in the band called Blindside in the past. Blindside wasn't active enough, so with the arsenal of few songs and many aspirations, the duo decided to form the new band. At the same time, the search for other members has begun.

The first addition was Johan Mattjus, an old aquintance of Marko, whom Pukkila accidently met on a train. Johan's singing talents were not being used in any band at the time, so ALTARIA was lucky to obtain a great vocalist.

Next member to join ALTARIA was a monster guitar player Jani Liimatainen, of Sonata Arctica fame. Jani was excited about joining ALTARIA, which at the time was shaping up as a project. But, what started as fun, quickly turned into a real band, as great songs began to form and live performances were very well received.

After the first studio session was behind, a 3-track demo/promo cd called "Sleeping Visions" was distributed to medias and record companies. The response was quite good and it made the band to proceed further.

In the beginning of 2002 there were some scheduling problems with Mattjus, so Jouni Nikula was called to help the band during their 2 live shows. Because the gigs went extremly well and both the audience and the band really liked what they heard, ALTARIA voted for getting Jouni as a permanent member of the band. So, there it was - the first line-up change in ALTARIA's history.

During the spring 2002 ALTARIA went again to the studio, recording eight kickass songs. Four of them was released under the name "Feed The Fire", and the whole demo was once again put freely downloadble on the Internet. Since releasing the new demo, all ALTARIA's songs leaped on top 50 at's charts at the same time! The heavy metal audience can't be wrong - there's truly some magic on ALTARIA's songs. In four weeks people downloaded over 1700 MP3 songs of ALTARIA.

In June 2002 ALTARIA signed a promotion & show booking contract with GerMusica. This, with extremly well received new demo, opened some more passages towards getting a record deal. In August, 2002, ALTARIA signed a contract with AOR Heaven and the debute album called "Invitation" were scheduled to be released in spring 2003.

The Autumn 2002 was busy time for ALTARIA. The recording sessions of Invitation took their time and the band also made several kick-ass live shows during October and November. The live shows also featured second guitarist, Emppu, and because of the great chemistry between him and the rest of the band, Emppu became soon a permanent member of ALTARIA.

The recordings of the debute album were completed in January 2003 and it was mixed after that. Both were completed at Sonic Pump Studios by Nino Laurenne (Thunderstone, ex-Antidote). The final touch of the album was the mastering at Finnvox Studios by Mika Jussila. The release date of Invitation was set for April 28th, 2003.

Line-up changes were made after releasing the debute album Invitation. Before the tour to support Invitation vocalist Jouni Nikula decided to leave the band. ALTARIA contacted Taage of Kilpi fame and asked him to join the band, so the gap was filled instantly after Jouni's departure. With Taage on vocals ALTARIA did three well-received live shows on September, 2003. When the Invitation tour continued on January 2004, Emppu discussed with the band and they both agreed it's better him to leave the band. Emppu had to cancel the previous live shows because of Nightwish activities. The recordings of the fifth Nightwish album seemed to continue a bit too far regarding to the ALTARIA tour so Emppu found two weeks before the first show that he couldn't participate to the tour in any matter. So, the band and Emppu decided that Emppu can leave the band because of Nightwish having too much things going on.

Since January 2004 ALTARIA has performed as four-piece band. Petri Aho, a guitarist known of playing with Marko and Tony in the past with Blindside, was called quickly to help the band with the forthcoming Finnish tour since the band wanted to have two guitarists for the live shows, though there was only one guitar player on the band. ALTARIA decided to record the follow-up for the highly successful debute album and continue as a four-piece band.

After the Finnish tour in January 2004 ALTARIA hit the studio to record Divinity. This time Marko's and Tony's songwriting was accompanied with two kick-ass songs written by Jani and several others the trio co-wrote. Because of the line-up changes the follow-up album for Invitation was doubted to be as huge killer as the debute was, but after it's release in May 2004 the band, the media and the loyal listeners found out that Divinity definately included some of the strongest ALTARIA songs ever made. The press loved it, the fans loved it, the band loved it, the label loved it - and the recording contract was directly extended without even waiting for the new material to form.

ALTARIA started to preproduce material for the forthcoming third album during the winter and spring 2005. Eventually it became clear for all that Jani couldn't find enough time to Altaria, and thus he had to leave. His main band Sonata Arctica took so much time and efford that Altaria felt they were left in the shade. This affected especially the live gigs which had to be organized by looking at the Sonata Arctica schedules and filling the empty dates which were getting more and more rare.

Jani Liimatainen and ALTARIA parted ways mutually in June 2005, and in July ALTARIA was happy to inform they've found the best possible replacement - J-P Alanen of Celesty fame. J-P was not only a long-time friend of the band, but also been jamming and writing songs with ALTARIA for some time already. He was also playing with very similar style Jani plays, and he naturally was one of the most skillfulled young guitarists found in Finland today. After J-P joining the band and bringing some fresh attitude, ALTARIA is again ready to enter the studio to create another kick-ass record and hit the road creating even more massive live shows than ever before!

In January 2008, the band decided to part ways with their record label Metal Heaven for undisclosed reasons. They are currently searching for a new record deal. Songs for a new album have been written which had originally been planned for release in late 2007; as soon a new contract with a record company is signed, work on the planned release will continue.

In the same month, bass player Marko Pukkila parted ways with the band after an argument concerning the split with Metal Heaven. His replacement is Ex-Terrorwheel bass player and current Altaria vocalist Marco Lupenero. This means that the only original member still active with Altaria is Tony Smedjebacka.

Towards the later part of 2008 the band announced on their website that they were in the process of writing songs for their fifth (fourth full) studio album. In March 2009, they stated that they had finished recording 12 tracks for their upcoming release. The title had yet to be confirmed, but one track had already been completed, entitled "Pride and Desire". In May 2009, Altaria's fifth studio album, Unholy was released.