Elysium Theory - Modern Alchemy

Year of Release: 2010
Label: self-released
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 66:41:00

Though it's likely a subconscious nod to the past, Elysium Theory's first CD is an interesting blend of modern and vintage prog. After an atmospheric intro, the album's title track is a killer reminder of all that was good in the mid seventies when American bands like Kansas, Ambrosia and the first Angel album were picking up the slack from the UK prog bands and dishing out meat and potatoes prog without the indulgence that would lead to the genre's downfall.

Soaring melodies, heavy riffs and symphonic keys carry Modern Alchemy. Moog greets us for the beginning of "Spiritcorn" which, like the previous track, carries moments of heaviness with beautiful quieter moments. Again, a killer hook for chorus takes nothing away from the progressiveness of the material. Progressive in a regressive vein -- and that's a good thing.

"All Seeing Eye" is more of a riffy hard rock track but is followed by "Beyond Yourself". Brimming with mood and atmosphere, this track showcases the band's tightness. Feeny's drum kit is of particular note here."The Source" is another straight up rocker with a nice melody and astral-type lyrics (always a bonus for prog related releases). With nine minutes in length, the track has plenty of time for extended instrumentals. Blistering, bombastic, "Choas" follows. A sense of urgency created by the thundering bass/drumming is augmented by soaring keys. This is the closest the band comes to prog-metal. Like the previous few songs, this demands repeated listens to get the full effect.

Much of the same follows the next several tracks, with fine melodies, the occasional feeling of "deja vu," but crossover prog that appeals in a melodic sense. Tim Reid's lead guitar is mostly restrained but always tasteful. "Blacklight Reflection" is definitely similiar in melody to previous tracks and might have been left off the album for that reason, but it does have a nice jazzy guitar solo that makes up for it.

"Intrigued By Faith" is the closer. It's a strong track and showcases the wonderful vocal melodies that are found throughout the album. There's a nice piano interlude that takes us into a Beggar's Opera-esque guitar-driven instrumental, all of which lead to the album's grand finale.

All in all, Elysium Theory makes no attempt to redefine prog rock. What they do though (which is a modern spin on retro/mid-seventies American prog), they do with love, style and ability. Besides the excellent musicianship, singer Dan Peterson has a fine set of pipes and that's something that has been solely missing in most music and new bands in recent years. One of two tiny negatives in this release are a somewhat thin sound mix - it's clean but lacking in depth to this ear. This is a small matter as the sound production is better than a lot of excellent releases in the past - of note, Astra's The Weirding, one of my favorite releases last year but the CD sounded like it was recording in a toilet bowl. The other minus for Modern Alchemy is the excellence of the opening twenty minutes is not retained throughout the remaining 45 minutes. It's all good, but not a masterpiece. This band has what it takes to get it done and I look forward to their next release.

With vintage prog artwork done by guitarist Tim Reid, more than an hour of playtime, Elysium Theory have delivered a winner that is well worth picking up. They sit in a interesting position with a unique sound where old school symphonic rock meets modern sounds. I for one hope they don't jump off in one direction or another on their next album because they have done so well just where they are.

Lorimer's Pulse (1:39) / Modern Alchemy (5:31) / Spiritcom (7:36) / All Seeing Eye (4:50) / Beyond Yourself (6:54) / The Source (8:39) / Chaos (5:46) / Russian Winter (6:50) / River In The Sky (5:31) / Blacklight Reflection (5:01) / Intrigued By Faith (8:24)

Tim Reid - guitars
Benny Reyes - keyboards
Jeff Fister - bass
Ted Feeney - drums, percussion
Dan Peterson - vocals

Modern Alchemy (2010)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: June 28th 2010
Reviewer: Richard Zywotkiewicz

Artist website: www.elysiumtheory.com
Hits: 2281
Language: english


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