Alchemy X - A Delicate Balance


Year of Release: 1999
Label: Independent/Plastic Giraffe Productions
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 50:17:00

This is one of those bands you often hear the name of, but never hear much about. I first heard their disc playing over a club PA system in Connecticut, and I thought that the music sounded pretty good. The disc wasn't available back then, so not many people were even talking about this band. They apparently hail from New York, and I am really surprised that we haven't heard much from them considering the size and source of the metal Internet and accesses to the thousands of ears eager to hear just about anything that even smells like a prog metal band.

THE STYLE

The band is driven by a twin guitar sound, like many of the other American metal bands that seem to be cropping up all over the country. They add in some backing strings at times, compliments of the bass player, but for the most part, the band seems content to bask in the sound of a melodic power metal sound injected with progressive tendencies. If you are familiar with the band Defyance, then you are in the ballpark of what Alchemy X compares to. It's definitely melodic power metal that often starts off slow and acoustically, with some strings, soft singing, and then quickly climbing into a driving, punching song that hits hard. I've heard lots of people who have heard them compared to Queensryche, but at this point, the only aspect of Queensryche I hear are some of the more atmospheric guitar intros that Chris DeGarmo used to introduce us to frequently in Operation: Mindcrime & Empire. This band starts off their disc with a neat trilogy played in three parts, which I found to be quite interesting. This shows the band's willingness to move away from the standard approach of throwing in a trilogy at the end of a disc bringing it to a climax. Another that comes to mind here might be Ion Vein now that I've got a handle on the twin guitar attack. If you are into any of this style of music, particularly the new arrival of American power metal injected with prog tendencies, then this band might be a welcome addition to your collection.

THE BAND:

Chris Fox / Guitars, backing vocals
Martin Morin / lead vocals
Steve Ratchen / bass, keyboards, backing vocals
Rob Schreiber / guitars, backing vocals
Chris Scorsese / drums

THE VOCALS:

Martin Morin has an aggressive, mid-range style that does fit in nicely with this style of music, although I did mention Ion Vein who has a high pitched singer but I was referring more to the music comparison than the vocal aspect. Martin at times can sound like a Geoff Tate during his quiet intro passages, and this might be one other aspect that people are saying the QR word associated with this band, although this comparison isn't validated much throughout the disc. Martin is a more gritty, aggressive, very American sounding singer that stays within a certain range and seems comfortable remaining there. He tends to yell at certain points in the disc to get his message across and it is at these times that he sounds a bit strained and limited. This isn't to say that he can't hit the high notes as he reaches up a couple of times easily, so I'm gathering that this is his style and choice to sing in this manner. As with many of these indy American bands, I've found that the less than stellar productions keep us from really hearing what these singers can do. And in a live setting I've eaten my words more than once and have heard these singers doing their thing and they sound nothing like their disc - which again goes to prove that a good production means a good performance and capture.

THE PRODUCTION:

Actually, for an indy disc, the production is not that bad, but it is a tad too natural and plain, and doesn't do much justice for any of the players except for maybe the keyboards, which sound very good. The drums sound very natural, plain, and without punch. This immediately sets the mood for the rest of the music, because the fullness just isn't there. The guitars are quite clean, but not heavy and punchy enough for what I'm sure are much heavier than heard here. When both guitars kick in, you expect to be at least washed in guitar sound, but it doesn't happen often here. However, to give credit, the sound is very clean and crisp. The bass is bit shy in the mix, giving the overall sound a bit of a hollow, empty feeling - sort of like a hole in the middle of the music. The vocals are very well placed, but with zero effects - totally natural and raw, which may even be the goal here, but as it is, the sound is a bit too natural and raw, almost as if the music was all recorded together in one room without any effects. This may all be preferential, but if you're looking for a huge booming metal you might be a bit disappointed. The band and a gentleman named Doug Oberkircher did produce the disc, so I?m gathering that Doug has some recording experience, and that this is the sound they went after. Unfortunately for indy bands - the production is usually the aspect that holds their discs from really being noticed even if the music is excellent, and in most cases the only way to really appreciate these band is to see them in a live setting to see where their talents really lie.

THE COMMENTS

Fans of true prog metal will probably want to stay away from this disc - only because I believe it is more for metal heads that like their power metal first, and their prog secondary in the background. Fans of traditional American power metal that don't mind the indy production sound would probably like this one a lot. I'd be curious to see this band play live, as I get the feeling that they have fallen into the indy trap of low finances and are more bent on getting their sound out into the music world rather than dazzle us with their savvy recording skills. A limited budget usually produces what I'm hearing on this disc, and at no fault of the band. However, with the slew of shows and clubs that seem willing to put on some decent metal shows, I'm betting some bucks that Alchemy X is one of those bands that kick ass in a live setting.

Overall, this disc isn't going to burn up too many eardrums, but like every other aspiring, oppressed metal band, if they stick together they will get their chance to show their wares to the eager metal public.


Tracklisting:
Sister (8:20) / Emotion: Time & Resonance (4:01) / Emotion: Killing Thoughts (5:19) / The Sands Of Time (8:11) / Alchemy (5:41) / Fatality Complex (7:25) / Requiem By Moonlight (6:52) / Seventh Sign (4:28)

Musicians:
Chris Fox - guitars, backing vocals
Martin Morin - lead vocals
Steve Ratchen - bass, keyboards, backing vocals
Rob Schreiber - guitars, backing vocals
Chris Scorsese - drums

Discography:
A Delicate Balance (1999)
11:59:59 (2003)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: March 1st 2000
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Artist website: www.alchemy-x.com
Hits: 916
Language: english

  

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