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Alchemia - Inception

by Ian Yeara at 06 August 2021, 12:07 AM

Brazilian "horror metal" sorry but I have to start with a mini rant. What is horror metal and why do bands feel like they have to create new genre descriptions? It's definitely a pet peeve of mine, and in this case when they say horror metal what they really mean is progressive metal with lots of nu metal and grind elements all thrown together creating a smorgasbord of sounds that for me go in one ear and out the other. It's just not my cup of tea, but I want to be upfront about that. I hate reviewing albums that are in a style that I don't like because I feel that's not fair to the artist. Encyclopedia Metallum is chock full of death metal fans reviewing power metal just because they don't like the style and because they enjoy crapping on genres they don't like. I've met people like that before and they're not fun people to be around.

In my experience there are two styles of Brazilian metal. There's the ANGRA end of the spectrum with high flying guitars, and unquestionably euro power metal style hooks. The other end of that spectrum is dark, very heavy and guitar riff oriented and usually more mid-tempo than speedy. I prefer the faster euro inspired stuff. This age of dark, grindy/nu metal stuff is just not at all my bag. To me it comes off as edgy rather than dark and rather boring to boot. Getting to the album at hand, I'll give these guys some credit they have some songwriting chops and there are definitely moments throughout the album that excited me and caught my attention, but I can't lie they were few and far between. Part of it for me is the melodramatic, edgy vocal style that just takes me out of the music. Just like with the "horror metal" moniker, they are trying way too hard. Soundwise it's not bad, but I can't help but notice how hot the guitar signal is. I like an aggressive guitar sound, but there are times where the signal is so hot it distorts everything around it and makes it very hard to listen for details.

Let's get some positivity in here. The aspects of this album I enjoyed the most were the orchestral arrangements. These guys clearly know what they're doing when it comes to writing and arranging so kudos to them. Generally speaking the pacing is decent, moving from faster songs to mid tempo romps, and some in between songs though there's a little more mid tempo than I would prefer. Some songs are way more complex than others with interesting lines of harmony flowing underneath the guitars and electronics, and then other songs are simple *chug, chug, chug* affairs on the guitar which definitely lost my attention. I definitely found myself living for the more orchestral, epic styled songs like "Inception", but really it was more individual moments within the songs I liked more. Haunting You is very much inspired by Gamma Ray/Helloween and when the melodies took front and center I liked it, and then when the chugging took over again my eyes glazed over with it. Then there's songs like "Ashes" where the chorus is actually the weakest part of the song, just because it's such a generic hook with no real conviction behind it.

I'm listening to this album for about the 4th or 5th time as I'm working on this and something just occurred to me as to why the mix bothers me; the vocals are… weak. They're not completely buried in the mix, but sound kind of thin and I think the engineer just needed to do more to keep the vocals more prominent. Also, he needed to bring down the guitar levels, but I already said that. The electronics and orchestral stuff is pretty well mixed which is nice, even if sometimes I don't like how they apply the electronic elements. The song “If Nothing is Sacred” is a great example of what frustrates me about this album. The refrain and chorus are really cool and interesting, very much setting it apart from the rest of the album. The rest of the song is a boring chug fest barely worth remarking on. That's the thing, I can tell beneath the veneer of "we're tough guys writing scary metal for tough men" there's a core of wanting to write more intricate progressive power metal. The song “Sacrifice” is probably my favorite song on the album because of this; I can actually hear the bass player and Fifas is actually delivering some tasty and funky lines underneath. The guitars actually get to play somewhat complex lines and we really get to hear the drummer play to his potential and on top of all of this they manage to properly build up to a climax and the orchestrations really add to it. This is one of the more cinematic songs on the album and it just nails all those prog power elements that I personally look for in this music.

Look, this is a debut album and I'll give them a pass for the sound production and everything, I think ultimately, they accomplished what they set out to do with this album and really that's what's important, not what I or anyone else thinks. Unfortunately, I think there's going to be two types of people who look at this and either say "ooh horror metal, that sounds neat!" And "horror metal? That sounds atrocious, what is the point of making up these silly genre labels?" I definitely fell into the second camp and if you don't like nu metal or alternative kind of stuff, this is not an album for you. However, I know plenty of people that would really enjoy this, and really my biggest suggestion for the next album is to let the guitars cut lose a little more, cut down on the chugging and let Fifas and Alex jam together more because easily the best parts of this album were the bass and drums.

Songwriting: 6
Originality: 6
Memorability: 6
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

1 Grind
2. Save Us
3. Inception
4. Haunting You
5. Ashes
6. If Nothing is Sacred
7. Sacrifice
8. Mind Prison
9. Nightmares
10 Secret Call
Victor Hugo Piiroja - vocals
Rodrigo Maciel - guitar
Fifas - bass
Alex Cristopher - drums
Wally D’Alessandro - keyboards
Record Label: WormHoleDeath Records


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Edited 02 February 2023

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