Alchemist - Austral Alien

01. First Contact
02. Great Southern Wasteland
03. Solarburn
04. Alpha Cappella Nova Vega
05. Older Than The Ancients
06. Backward Journey
07. Nature On A Leash
08. Grief Barrier
09. Epsilon
10. Speed Of Life
11. Letter To The Future

My, oh my - take a look at what this Alchemist has conjured. Indeed, it seems like the Australian band can live up to its name as they are capable of mixing various somewhat ordinary elements into a work of pure gold. These basic elements include a Killing Joke sense of rhythm, a Neurosis and Isis influenced sense of atmosphere, a few cues from Fear Factory's use of keyboards, Prong's penchant for groovy and powerful riffs and a death metal sense of energy and aggression. Alchemist however cannot be called merely an imitation of these aforementioned bands and styles. Whereas a careful listener will hear their echoes, the band still has their own, incredibly original and unusual sound.

When listening to Austral Alien, a few key words form in my mind. They are: fluidity, beauty, harmony and expansiveness. The band is able to construct songs that have a feeling of completeness and are filled with almost every conceivable emotion. The beautiful, catchy leads and unusual guitar effects and chords only help to achieve this feeling. Moreover, the band is incredibly talented. The vocalist is capable of singing in a number of different styles - from a sensual chant to a death metal growl and high pitched scream. The drummer is equally apt at juggling styles. His drumming is often inhumanely fast and just as often subdued and delicate. Overall, the musicians' ease at making their instruments say whatever they want them to say reminds me of jazz and some progressive rock. Thanks to this musical prowess, the artists are even more capable of creating various moods and emotions. Interestingly enough, for those of us familiar with the principles of alchemy, this sort of union of emotions, feelings and 'elements' is exactly what an alchemist is trying to achieve. The only album I can think of that opts for a similar effect is Devin Townsend's "Ocean Machine" and this can be a good reference when imagining what Alchemist are doing.

Due to the fluid nature of the music, its hard to pinpoint any favorite tracks - the album is better digested as a whole. Nonetheless, if I were forced to name the tracks that stand out the most, I would say that "First Contact" is a track that defines fury and anger, "Older Than The Ancients" has the most infectious melody and "Solarburn" the most impressive use of atmosphere. Still, unlike in more commercial recordings, these tracks seem to wash together with the others, creating a perfect whole, and that is their real function - not to be individually impressive.

I think its rather obvious that I was captivated by this release. Who knows, maybe these excellent musicians have found the philosopher's stone somewhere in the "Great Southern Wasteland" of Australia's desert?

Band profile: Alchemist
Album: Austral Alien


Written on 14.03.2004 by
With Metal Storm since 2002, jupitreas has been subjecting the masses to his reviews for quite a while now. He lives in Warsaw, Poland, where he does his best to avoid prosecution for being so cool.
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Lone Reaper - 21.04.2008 at 00:02  
Don't agree with review... This album is the worst in Alchemist's discography...
Darkside Momo - 03.07.2008 at 17:24  
Worst ? Certainly not. It's difficult to pinpoint a 'best' and 'worst' album in their discography, each one is SOOO unique.
bangladesh - 02.11.2009 at 21:42  
I have the same opinion as Lone Reaper, it´s the "worst", but compared with other banal bands it´s a masterpiece and it deserves all the atributes given by Jupitreas. 10/10 for me too. And i only think it´s the worst because it have 2 or 3 songs above the high standards of the band. In the rest of the albuns that 2 or 3 songs don´t exist, except in debut Jar of Kingdom.
Ragana - 29.12.2010 at 22:18  
I believe the rating is that high is because the album was reviewed in 2004 and ...*I'm now skipping the further explanation*... Well, this album just doesn't deserve a 10. It doesn't make me scream out of joy. It's good though. And interesting, very interesting. It also doesn't let one fall asleep.

But I do think this one's better than "Organasm".
Sonic MrSumo - 20.01.2011 at 04:52  
Excellent album...not as good as the previous 3 however.

Lunasphere and Spiritech are their greatest works, with Organasm close behind.
Sonic MrSumo - 06.03.2012 at 07:18  
Excellent review by the way!! One of the best I've read.
pinballWIZARD - 24.12.2012 at 21:21  
I haven't heard this cd, but the review was great.

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