Grand Alchemist - Intervening Coma-Celebration review
|Release date:||July 2002|
01. Faced (Intro)
02. A Nailed Visual Effect
03. Down Again
04. Incurable Longing
05. Approach (Open The Shell)
06. Intervening Coma-Celebration
08. Psyche & A Flower To The New Lifetime
09. Minds Delusion Sleeps For Creation
10. Solemn And Sophisticated
11. Under My Shallow Skin
12. Snap Up The Raw Of Existence
Today, when I listen to Grand Alchemist's debut, released over 10 years ago, I can't help but feel saddened over their apparent obscurity in the metal community. This is an absolutely huge bomb of melodic black metal goodness, and I would recommend all you with horns out there to check it out ASAP. I've never heard a band with quite the same intoxicating style as Grand Alchemist.
Often described as a symphonic black metal band, a more apt description would be melodic black metal. True, there are pianos, violins, and various other sound effects all over the tracks, but the songs themselves aren't symphonic as such. As so many of their peers, Grand Alchemist springs from Norway, the land of deep forests and fjords, and there is a distinct coldness to the production and overall sound of the album. But the coldness present here is the cold of melting icicles; behind the cold lies a warmth that encompasses the soul and brings it on a journey of musical ecstasy.
Our journey begins with "Faced", a simple yet eloquent acoustic intro, which brings forth the loneliness buried deep within us with its screams and winds in the background caressing the plucking. After the intro, "A Nailed Visual Effect" kicks off the metal action and is of the band's trademark sound. Rhythms that are bit awkward, twin guitars, tempo changes and Sigurd's strangely timed vocals all make this an experience of remarkable proportions.
Albeit being a black metal band, Grand Alchemist is all about catchy melodic leads and beautiful, appropriately executed solos and piano sections. Usually the solos and piano playing don't surface as the dominant parts, instead swimming beneath the surface of catchy guitar riffing and varied drumming. Also, neither the solos nor the piano are unnecessarily complicated, forging an enjoyable whole. As a prime example of this, one can name "Psyche & A Flower To The New Lifetime". The bass also deserves credit. It is clearly audible and goes along creating its own melodies, intertwining with the guitar leads.
Sigurd shrieks, while still being intelligible, venom to drown the listener, at times in accordance with the melody, other times slightly off, thus sounding like a raving madman. It's not all shrieks though. In the background, we have chants of clean singing, never completely surfacing, but still pummeling the songs forward nicely, as in "Incurable Longing".
Grand Alchemist's debut was followed by a 10-year silence from the band, only to be followed up by a sophomore release in 2012. Despite often being overlooked, Grand Alchemist is a band of large caliber; Intervening Coma-Celebration is definitely one of the hidden gems of black metal.
Highlights: All tracks are superb, but "Solemn And Sophisticated", "Incurable Longing", "Down Again", and "Sensemachine" deserve special mention.
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