Alchemist

Picture of Alchemist

Organasm

Alchemist - Organasm ©2001 Relapse
1. Austral Spectrum
2. Part 1: The Bio Approach
3. Part 2: Rampant Macro Life
4. Part 3: Warring Tribes - Eventual Demise
5. Single Sided
6. Surreality
7. New Beginning
8. Tide In, Mind Out
9. Eclectic
10. Escape From The Black Hole

Alchemist has toiled for quite some time in Australia to very little notice but with any luck, a newly signed deal with Relapse will help their global visibility greatly. And having spent some serious time consuming and getting my head around their 2000 release Organasm, now reissued by Relapse for more widespread attention, I can safely say Relapse has uncovered an amazing gem of a band here. The band's cumulative effect, which is in turn parts Neurosis, psychedelica, death and doom metal as well as hints of Prong and Killing Joke, is one of an entirely fluid, complete album that absolutely captivates any listener. Whether you want to call it intelligent death metal or progressive doom or any other descriptive genre tag is your choice. Regardless of the many pigeon holes it wavers around, Organasm is a fine record.

The most notable thing for Alchemist is their ability to completely construct a song, using impressive leads swirling around heavy riff progressions. Keyboards are used to quietly enhance the main and countermelodies. Vocalist/guitarist Adam Agius has a voice that runs in parallel to the likes of Therion's Christofer Johnsson in that it is not necessarily a thing of beauty, but the hoarse roar acts in harmony with the music. At times he comes across as a mix of Neurosis vocals mixed with Jaz Coleman's unusual bellow. There are other moments of Neurosis-like atmosphere, finely contained bombastic beauty and defined chaos. Other times find the band resembling a warmer, fuzzier latter-day Prong. From beginning to end, regardless of hints of other bands, Alchemist indeed turns ordinary plastic CDs into pure gold. There is nary a fault on this album as it is a seamless release that hopefully will allow the band to find a larger, appreciative worldwide audience. For you, no matter what area of heavy music you follow, there is no excuse for not finding out more about this fine band.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/2001

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Austral Alien

Alchemist - Austral Alien ©2003 Relapse
1. First Contact
2. Great Southern Wasteland
3. Solarburn
4. Alpha Cappella Nova Vega
5. Older Than The Ancients
6. Backward Journey
7. Nature On A Leash
8. Grief Barrier
9. Epsilon
10. Speed Of Life
11. Letter To The Future

Perhaps Alchemist has spent some considerable time out in the Australian desert, because their brains are getting quite baked. Somewhat hot on the heels of Organasm, the band's first widely available CD, Alchemist has conjured up a fantastic followup with Austral Alien. This CD finds the band continuing on the path of Organasm to a great deal of success. As with its predecessor, Austral Alien sucks the listener right in and demands he or she sit still for the entire duration of the album. Maybe twice for good measure.

The sound from the previous album is still essentially intact. To a degree, Alchemist has loosened up their collars a bit and allow the music considerably more breathing space. Space is probably the key word, as this music benefits greatly from more of the trippy, other-worldly guitar effects and echoes. Adam Agius' vocals still dwell in the Jaz Coleman school of controlled roar, but he also allows himself to sing a little throughout the CD. But most importantly, the band hasn't lost their sense of flat-out weirdness that has prevailed in their recordings since their early days. While the songs are structured to maximize impact and create a fluid feeling, the choice for eerie chords and exotic sounding leads is still quite intact. The band has mostly lost their penchant for a harder death metal crush, but the current sound more than makes up for any lost gruffness.

Austral Alien, much like Organasm, has found plenty of playing time in my household since I first got it. It is an excellent return for a band who set a new standard for themselves with their last album. With any luck, their notoriety will continue to grow with this release.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2003

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Tripsis

Alchemist - Tripsis ©2007 Relapse
1. Wrapped in Guilt
2. Tongues & Knives
3. Nothing in No Time
4. Anticipation of a High
5. Grasp the Air
6. CommunicHate
7. Substance for Shadow
8. God Shaped Hole
9. Degenerative Breeding

It's generally apparent when a band finally discovers a sound they absolutely like for themselves. In the case of Alchemist, they spent their early years as a rather odd progressive death metal entity before hitting upon their current sound with Organasm back in 2000. Since then, they've stuck to this formula. It may have been four years between releases, but Tripsis, Alchemist's entry for 2007, finds the band peddling the same wares again.

My review for Tripsis actually can be summed up fairly quickly. If you liked Organasm and Austral Alien, you'll also enjoy this new release. The caveat is that the songwriting isn't quite as excellent as their previous two releases. Good, but not great. Alchemist certainly seems content to stick to this particular sound, which is certainly their prerogative. My main complaint about the album is that the production is a little bit wet, where they might have greater impact if everything was tightened up a bit. However, that's never stopped me from listening to an album before. The other minor complaint is that if the band sticks to this general approach, they really must present only the best songwriting, as it doesn't take much for a band to begin treading water.

As you may surmise, I'm somewhat lukewarm regarding Tripsis. It's certainly a decent album but it does lack a bit of the spark and impact of its predecessors. To a certain degree, I hope Alchemist challenges themselves a bit on their next release so that they don't ultimately become stale.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2010

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