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Alkemyst
Through Painful Lanes
Type: CD
Company: Nightmare Records
Release: 2008
Genre: Power
Reviewer: Brad Caplan
Published: 8/8/2008
Alkemyst might just put France on the metal map
A Tower of Power (Metal) from France...

These are good times for fans of Power Metal. Bands like DragonForce, Sonata Arctica and Nightwish are enjoying success and more attention than this genre has received in a long time. One benefit of all this is that bands like Alkemyst get a chance to show what they can do over the span of a few years and gain the attention of record labels. Alkemyst, a French band was formed in 1998 and has released a few demos as well as two full length albums. Their new cd is called "Through Painful Lanes" and is a very good Power Metal album with excellent production (self produced at Taurus Studio in Geneva, Switzerland).

The band has enjoyed the same line-up since 2000 and their chemistry (no pun intended) is evident on the new album. Power Metal or Melodic Metal is a good description of their sound, but there are some other influences mixed in. They included a cover of the Helloween tune "Eagle Fly Free".

The album opens with the sound of a church bell and a chorus of what sounds like monks, but that quickly gives way to a blistering guitar intro. Off tempo rhythms, up tempo drums and lots of guitar riffs comprise "The Beast Within". Ramon Messina is the lead singer and displays an excellent range. Multiple vocal parts and harmonies make a nice complement to the complex riffs on this opening track. A nice twist when they slow things down to an acoustic section in the middle of the song - not your run of the mill power metal song at all.

The second track is "Another You" which starts out with a Dream Theater-like opening (not a bad thing) to the point where I almost expect James LaBrie to start singing. Definitely some Progressive Rock/Metal capabilities and influences on display. Similar to the first track in that you do not need to listed to this 5 times to get wrapped up in it. There is some excellent guitar work from Séverin Bonneville and Arnaud Ménard who have been learning to feed off one another for the past 10 years.

I guess the one thing that really drives this album forward is Alkemyst's sense of melody. While these songs have a fairly high level of complexity, it is very easy to listen to. Fans of Kamelot and even Riverside will hear songs that they can really get into.

"Enter the Carnival" opens with guitar run that may remind some of Yngwie, and the song that follows would not be out of place on just about any YJM album. Again, for some that will be a nice surprise, and perhaps a turn off for others, but it fits well on this album. Drummer Arnaud Gorbaty definitely shows his speed capability on this track.

"Restless Show" is another song that has progressive rhythms and a Dream Theater feel to it. The one song that changes things up even more is the ballad/mid-tempo track "Everlasting Farewells". Several of the songs on this album have time signature changes in the middle, so those who prefer the straight forward approach may have some difficulty. I find it refreshing and it definitely demonstrates their songwriting skills and creativity.

"The Grand Illusion" (not the Styx tune, though that might have been interesting) is a fast paced power metal song with nice harmonies. You can hear the effort that was put into the production - apparently they spent quite a while in their Geneva studio getting the sound just right. Their efforts paid off with an album that has good sound quality making this an even more enjoyable album to listen to all the way through.

The final track on the US version of the album is the Helloween cover "Eagle Fly Free" (the Japanese release includes a bonus track "Might Power Fool"). Since the first 8 tracks of this album work so well together, I accept this last track as a nice extra, though I am not sure it adds anything to the overall collection of songs. Makes me think that I need to go back and listen to some old Helloween since I never really got into them when they were at their peak.

Bottom line - this is a very good album from a band that is clearly finding its groove. Fans of Dream Theater, Kamelot, etc. should really enjoy it. Alkemyst might just put France on the metal map. Those that really enjoy this album should check out their 2003 release "Meeting in the Mist".
About this Writer:
Brad Caplan // Brad Caplan lives in Charlotte, NC after spending many years in Dallas, TX (originally from Pittsburgh, PA). Brad has spent most of his life accumulating albums, seeing live shows and talking about music to anyone who would listen. He played trumpet for 10 years and has become very proficent at air guitar. Brad has written album reviews and year end lists for MaximumMetal.com and his social network.

Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: ALKEMYST
CD
TITLE BAND
DOR
REVIEWER DATE
Through Painful LanesAlkemyst
2008
Brad Caplan8/8/2008


ALL SUMMARY REVIEWS FOR: ALKEMYST

No Summary reviews currently exist for them.


ALL INTERVIEWS FOR: ALKEMYST
INTERVIEW BAND INTERVIEWER DATE
Severin BonnevilleAlkemystBrad Caplan10/14/2008


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