’s ALCHEMIST are true pioneers within the genre of Metal. Maybe it’s the Australian weather, or the sun they’re subjected to, because this band really thinks outside the box in the creation of music. Their last two albums, “Organasm” and “Austral Alien” has garnered them a small but loyal following, but their pre-“Organasm” material remains hard to obtain due to those albums being out of print.
Relapse has somewhat eased the pain of never finding those albums, by releasing this 28 track, 2 CD set of ALCHEMIST songs, pre-1998. Included are three live tracks, a bunch of demo songs and the best songs off the three albums and E.P. prior to “Organasm”.
For the uninitiated, ALCHEMIST fully embrace Death Metal, yet they add a healthy dose of Psychedelic Prog, Middle Eastern and Tribal rhythms, mellow parts and experimental sections that can go all over the place and calls it their own. At times very heavy and aggressive, at times pretty mellow and relaxed and at times just fucking weird, the band is unique, following their own vision and will take anyone willing enough to board this hypnotic journey with them.
This two disc retrospection of one of Metal’s best and most unique bands starts off with (what seems to be) their most famous song, “Chinese Whispers”, with a heavy blend of distorted guitars and keyboards and the band using the basic structure of the song to then leap off into this very PINK FLOYD-ian interlude that is both mellow and tense at the same time, one that feels totally different from the rest of the song yet still a part of it. It’s the desire for innovation and thinking beyond the mere confinements of the genre they play that has helped them create some of the most memorable music ever.
The two disc compilation is not without its faults however. Instead of being a chronological retrospective into ALCHEMIST’s career, the tracks are laid out seemingly at random and the result is that there is no sense of evolution to this release. As stated before, demo tracks are featured on this, which shows the band at its very rawest and unrefined, while still showing some progressive tendencies, foreshadowing perhaps what was to come; yet they’re alongside tracks that are really off the wall and just outworldy. If the tracks were laid out in some chronological fashion, adhering to the band’s timeline, there would be a prevailing sense of how ALCHEMIST progressed throughout the years.
I would have preferred Relapse Records to have re-released all four pre-“Organasm” releases, but at that point, I’d be splitting hairs. “Embryonics” just rules.
ALCHEMIST is one of the most innovative bands out there, bar none. Their passion to create something that shatters the confinements of Extreme Music is not only a breath of fresh air with the ever stagnant Metal scene, it is also a doorway to a hypnotic journey. Fuck drugs, THIS is the way to trip out of your mind!
An album deserving a 9, but minus half a point for laying the tracks out with no structure and plus one point for the gorgeous packaging.
Highest recommendation. (Online April 25, 2006)