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Vampillia – Alchemic Heart Award winner

Alchemic Heart
by Johnny Quid (J£) at 02 November 2014, 6:05 AM

When it comes to listening to a new band for the first time, many of us have our own ways of taking the music in. Some of us casually listen as the music plays in the background while we do other things, there are those of us who listen to the same three or four tracks over and over again, not at all interested in giving the rest of the album a fair chance until we get bored with our current favorites, and then there are those of us who listen to a song for 11 seconds (or less), and then skip to the next song. For these listeners, they're looking for instant gratification, and if they don't hear it in one track, they'll skip around to other tracks until they do. If they don't ever find whatever it is that they're looking for within the first 5 minutes, they're not going to give the band another chance after that. They don't want to wait for it to grow on them. For them, either they like it immediately, or it sucks.

Then there are listeners, like myself for example, who are interested in the journey itself. We understand that with many albums (good ones, mind you), a story is being told, and just like a movie that starts slow and then gets good after awhile, you really must be patient and allow the album to make its statement. This is the case with "Alchemic Heart," the latest offering from Japan's VAMPILLIA. Throughout the course of their 2 track album (each track clocking in at 22:30 exactly), the 11-piece metal orchestra paints a dark tale that starts from a low whisper, crawls out of the ground, paves it's way through an unforgiving forest, comes crashing like a storm, and is then silenced as quickly as it began…and that's just the first track.

Of course, if you are not the kind of listener who is privy to this trippy type of progressive audible captivation that's been done very well by bands like PINK FLOYD, DREAM THEATER, OPETH, SYMPHONY X, and the almighty TOOL just to name a few, then you will most likely not last the full 45 minutes of this album…and you would be missing the point completely. This is not meant to be a conventional metal album even in the slightest. From the start of the first track, entitled "Sea," the repeating lines of English spoken poetry, droning violins, and light piano create a beautifully solid backdrop that is quickly built upon when the rock guitar comes in at the 9:22 mark. You don't really get a chance to hear the combination of lovely violin and dirty guitar like this in a metal album very often, and it's the simplicity here that gives this growing track the atmosphere that it needs to keep you walking through that fog to see what comes next.

Eventually, operatic vocalizing will breathe even more life into this world being created, and the entire track is transformed. Again, passive listeners need not apply here. It is equivalent to sitting in that first seat of a roller coaster and ascending up the first hill. There is anticipation, and there is a fear of what's to come. It's the same for the second track, entitled "Land". The sheer beauty of the track grows at a steady pace, making you wait until the time is right before it reaches full force. This is music for outer-worldly listeners, too tragic to be called Doom or Stoner Metal, not heavy enough to be called Black Metal, and yet still too dark and metallic to simply be labeled as conventional classical. It simply exists as its own entity, in its own form, inside its own realm.

"Alchemic Heart" moves at a steady tempo from a quiet brook to a roaring river and back again. VAMPILLIA are masters of song composition, musicianship, and evoking mood and feeling. You don't just listen to this album. You experience it.

5 Star Rating

1. Sea
2. Land
Various Artists
Record Label: Temple Of Torturous


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Edited 04 February 2023

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