Alchimia - Musa
Nadir Music
Gothic Atmospheric Metal with Folk influences
10 songs (48'58")
Release year: 2017
Reviewed by Alex

I could be accused of generalizing and stereotyping, but recent coincidences have every new French band I came across lately skewing into the realm of obscure and avant-garde, whereas every new Italian collective I experienced recently has a gothic tinge to it. Ataraxia, Camerata Mediolanense may have been tagged darkwave in the end, but it seems that deeply embedded love of classical music in the Italians often makes everything sound polished and meticulously produced, with rigid structures, features I often I associate with gothic metal music.

The goal of one Emanuel Tito, the man behind Alchimia and the band’s debut Musa, was to take the foundation of gothic rock/metal and blend into it a lot of folk music from its native Naples. Figuring why stop at just combining gothic and folk, too tried and true combination, Alchimia goes on alternating atmospheric rock with some more distorted, harsher, but not too tough, passages, attempting to create a sense of floating duality. While the promo text goes on calling grimier moments of Musa “deathly”, I would never venture that far, definitely not beyond mid-era Katatonia and then you be judge how deathly that is. There is some density in the latter part of Orizzonte, progressive features in Lost, grooviness in Leaves, and possibly even grunge moments in Oceano Tempesta, but just doing a double bass here and there (Memory (Assenza), My Own Sea (Fading)) with an audible bass guitar does not make this death metal. And, frankly, the best moments of the album are not those when the artists strive for this soft-and-hard dichotomy to emerge harmoniously.

For me, the best parts of Musa came when Alchimia stuck to its native core. Naples, being the seaport city, the band is great depicting the maritime theme, waves gently lapping the shores in Orizzonte, or in instrumental Oceano Tempesta, the tune overall being certainly no tempest, despite the title. The short folk interlude Whisper of the Land hits it home with multiple layered guitar playing, and when things are called a waltz (Waltz of the Sea) it is rewarding to hear Alchimia sticking to an unmistakable 1-2-3 rhythmic signature. Despite what the band may have thought, it is those moments which provide Alchimia with more uniqueness. This whispery withdrawn male vocals or background chorale goes well with that, no need for forced harshness or overused beauty&the beast (Leaves). And when martial subject needs to be brought up, doing it in the interesting persistent gladiator march to Coliseum in Exsurge Et Vive did more for me than some more generic harsher riffs. Bottomline, everywhere the band looked to its origins, I felt a click. Where things got more standard issue, I don’t remember registering my attention much. Also, at 10 tracks, and almost 50 minutes, it did feel by The Fallen One and Memory the melodies and song development got extremely non-eventful, so maybe a little editing would have been able to keep me more focused as well.

Killing Songs :
Exsurge Et Vive, Waltz by the Sea
Alex quoted 72 / 100
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