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Elysium Theory - Modern Alchemy CD (album) cover

MODERN ALCHEMY

Elysium Theory

Crossover Prog


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jampa17
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Every now and then I get surprised by a band that seems to be a generic prog metal- alternative band but ends up being a complete please to the ears. This is the case for this young and fresh band. Don't miss this album, it worth the listening.

Their biography say that they have a huge influence of Riverside and that's evident, the use of heavy distor guitars in a very alternative way, catchy clear melodies and everything, sounds like Riverside. On the other side, the keyboards and the structures of the songs give a different approach to the music and the result is a very enjoyable journey through the entire album. What seems to be weird to me is that the lead singer sounds like the Europe singer, just like a glam metal high pitched singer, which is nice because is strange to find this in an alternative-prog band.

Well now, the album is a conceptual one and I'm not sure what it's all about because I don't have booklet and it's not easy to understand English lyrics for me. What I can speak is that the complete album flows very well. You don't get tired of the progress of the songs. Maybe no song really will blow your mind away, I have to say is very enjoyable and many of the phrases (especially the rare ones) works fine and gives a lot of dramatic impressions that are balanced with the catchy melodies and the collaboration of the different instruments build up a cohesive concept, nice and enjoyable. Again, this band shines when the keyboards takes the lead and bring out some real interesting not that melodic progressions.

For a more accurate description, I could say this is where prog metal and crossover prog meets, right in the middle. I like that the band never gets too instrumental nor too proggy, they always keep it fresh and nice and most of the songs are pretty short and that's how it felts because the album is really easy going and easy to listening to.

With the production there's no complain. This a great work, all the sound choices are great and the quality is really on the top. The mix is great and you can see when an album is mixed to enhance the music and not a particular musician. This album could work fine to any Riverside fan (seems like there are many out there), but also to other alternative prog bands like Oceansize or even for prog metal fans.

While not ground breaking or revolutionary, this band knows very well their deal and I'm glad that I tried them out. You should if you liked the description above. 3.5 stars is fair, good, maybe very good album, just not that original to get that label of "Excellency". I liked it, keep going guys.

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Send comments to jampa17 (BETA) | Report this review (#298551)
Posted Saturday, September 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This album was a real pleasent surprise to my ears, totaly agree with previous reviewer who said same thing. Elysium Theory is a young band from USA, combining elements from progressive metal, but without being metal, funy thing, some eclectic moments and they turned up in the end a crossover prog band, funy thing again....Anyway they sound realy strong and fresh in my opinion. Very strong musicianship, some fantstic vocal arrangements and a very enjoyble voice coming from Dan Peterson. The instrumental parts are fantastic, very strong, smooth with inteligent parts, where the duel between guitar and keybords are top notch. The instrumental parts are melting and fiting like gloves with vocal arrangements, realy fine and enjoyble melodic and yet very progressive lines. A totaly missed album by many listeners, sad, because I find this little release from 2010 named Moder alchemy a winner in every sens of the word. Few rates , only two reviews with mine included, realy unnoticed album in prog fields, and for sure needs a far better view because they worth it. If the next album sounds at least as good as this one, I'm a fan, I'm already impressed but who knows what future gives... 4 stars easy, one of the most enjoyble and fresh albums from 2010 that for some reasons goes unnoticed by prog lovers, warmly recommended. The cover art aswell is great giving some nice pack overall.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#400821)
Posted Tuesday, February 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars Elysium Theory's debut is a marriage of melodic metal guitar riffing and symphonic keyboard washes.

Elysium Theory's debut 'Modern Alchemy' is a work of passion and dedication, very well produced and structured. The music is reminiscent of Riverside, Pink Floyd or Porcupine Tree. The hybrid of catchy melodies, clean vocals and fine musicianship create an overall album of excellent quality.

The album begins with an intro track Lorimer's Pulse, with some blistering fret work on guitars by Tim Reid and then it sets sail for some excellent progressive rock.

'Earth and fire, wind and rain replaced by chemistry.' Modern Alchemy has an infectious melody and great riffs, with strong high register vocals of Dan Peterson, who hits high notes with ease, lifting up the atmosphere. The lead guitars shine through brilliantly on the rhythm machine of Ted Feeney's pounding drums and Jeff Fister's pulsating bassline.

'50 years have passed since we came, look upon its shine like a northern star, earth to Thomas are you there, we are falling are you there, a warm summer wind disturbs my skin'. Spiritcom features chilling spacey, weird effects, manic laughing, great intro, and ambient atmospheres. The dark textures are augmented by icy guitar echoes and descending keyboards. This is one of the best tracks; pure melodic metal with a razor sharp musical framework.

'The drifting face of a dying race, In the name of all that's misunderstood, legions of men hide beneath, the all seeing eye looks down where faith once stood, winks to a world that never understood what life was meant to be'. All Seeing Eye is a heavy track with killer riffs and strong vocals. Benny Reyes is terrific on piano, and strong pounding drumming metrical shapes lock in. The guitar riffs powerdrive into the sound and Dan's vocals are storytelling perhaps basing the lyrics on the Illuminati, similar to Dream Theater.

'Transcend all that's left for you, think beyond, beyond yourself, the will to make the choice of few, beyond yourself'. Beyond Yourself features an effective riff and some sporadic drumming. It certainly has a great instrumental break with blazing lead guitar reverberation, saturated with keyboards, double kick drumming and speed riffing. The chorus is catchy and it hooks in to your memory long after the song ends.

'I touch the soul at the heart of something more, the flaming in a million suns is brighter than before, reach out and touch the essence all that ever was and will ever be, the spark of life goes on, Universal truth is known into the great beyond.' The Source has another wonderful instrumental synth and guitar trade offs played to perfection. Benny is a revelation on keyboards here, ascending arpeggios, triggerfinger work and full of emotional timbre. The melodies and Dan's vocal performance are certainly outstanding and this is one of the best of the mini epics on the album.

'Shine the light so I could find the way, it breathes within these broken walls, can't get control of it all now release me'. Chaos is a heavier faster track that gallops along with an odd time signature. The keyboard pads are a symphonic touch. Dan's vocals are layered and harmonised, varied throughout. The break is disconcerting with piano and spacey reverbed guitar floating in the stratosphere. It locks into the intensification of Ted's crashing fast tempo drum pattern and solid melodic lead guitar caps off another excellent song.

'Time has come to see, the brilliant light did freeze me tonight, the voice guides me, the voice haunts me, the light pulls me towards the sky, tears of ice pounding down upon me, cries for me to follow her voice, no sense of direction, nothing but white, drawn by her song, that burned deep in the night, pushing me and pulling me into the light'. Russian Winter begins with spiralling twin guitar harmonics, cymbal splashes and then a blistering riff crashes in. The vocals remind me of Klaus from Scorpions at times, very high and full of descant. The piano is everpresent and a delightful augmentation of the overall texture, that resonates between dark and light with crashes of distorted chords. The tensions are subtle, releasing various musicians to take over and then holding back enough to let the music breathe. It is never overblown or pretentious due to the sincerity of blending metal riffs with swathes of keyboard finesse. The vocals and style grew on me as each track continued. The instrumental is brilliant, sliding and swooping guitars pouncing upon plunging keyboard sweeps, creating a sense of isolation and intense abandonment in the icy wasteland. There is a full orchestral sound that feels majestic and suits the mood perfectly. It even sounds like Therion here or Riverside. Best track on the album without a doubt.

'Wake up the sleeping tides, open your sails and let me in, let the journey now begin, Rain is falling down on me, soaring down a river in the sky, surfaces of sands of time, reflections that go through the starry sky'. River In the Sky begins with gentle acoustic and piano as the vocals soar over the top. This one is more like a power ballad, and breaks away from the intensity of previous tracks. The song is uplifting and reflective of what might have been in the mind of the protagonist. The keyboard break is hauntingly beautiful, wavering like an ocean cascading down, and Tim's guitars punch a hole in the atmosphere, like sunrays bursting through grey clouds. This is perhaps one of the most beautiful songs I have heard in recent years, a sense of melancholy pervades the soundscape. It implores one to hold onto their dreams, to steer past the barren land (the past pain), because a moonlit horizon is in our sights (thing will get better), if one lets the current take them there. The lyrics are powerful and uplifting encouraging one to hang on and let the storm pass for the ray of hope to shine through the darkness.

'Hidden out of sight, expose the darkened light, shadows running high, The man we knew will never be the same, echoes turn images in your mind, all that's left is a shell, a shell of a man.' Blacklight Reflection has a dark edge with distorted guitar chords and a howling drone effect that is preternatural and ethereal. The foreboding high frequency pitches are effective and keep the musical scape on a knife edge. The lead break is once again very well accomplished, the music is always innovative and ferociously tight. The chorus is infectious and hooks into your brain after a while as do all the choruses on the album.

'Here I am standing still, waiting for the day, when tears fall a time of pain will finally away, years gone without a sun shining on my soul, I am finding ways to feel again, I am intrigued by faith'. The track Intrigued By Faith begins with a bizarre chiming bell sound, and it sounds mystical and otherworldy, the melody reminds me of Pink Floyd's 'Crazy, over the rainbow, he is crazy'. The verses tell a tale of a man who is searching for places he can't see, for answers to a life that no one will understand, he wants to free himself, his soul is full of anger and regret, he is melancholic as a result and cries out for help to understand his sombre feelings. The feel is like a soft metal song with some heavier moments scattered here and there. The instrumental break is as usual excellent. It changes time sig as the piano takes over, with a dynamic guitar solo blasting out of the dark abyss. It is great when the music takes off and is given a chance to break out. The track is an example of one of the best on the album due to the innovative structure, progressive time sig changes and musical tradeoffs. The minimalist piano returns for the next verse which sounds different then locks back to the main melody. The finale is uplifting and then fractures into a softer vocal and piano with violin sounds on keyboards.

Overall the album is a prime example of a symphonic metal sound with prog rock influences. The songs grow on the listener, with sing-a-long choruses, and melodic guitar riffs. There is a great deal of melody driving the songs making them accessible and non threatening, and there are some excellent bursts of radiating musicianship, skilful work on keyboards in particular. The passion behind the music is admirable and it seems to hang on the framework of the concept of alchemy and mystical dogma. My first experience of Elysium Theory was certainly a pleasant journey.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#418614)
Posted Sunday, March 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The self-released debut from Elysium Theory has really left me stunned. It's certainly not every day that you hear a debut with this much power, emotion, and technical mastery! This young group from New York has created a monumental progressive rock/metal outing with Modern Alchemy; an album that hasn't left my rotation since I first received it in the mail. There are technical hitches along the way, but they seldom distract from the top-notch music that Elysium Theory has created here. This album manages to merge unforgettable melodies with technical prog sensibilities, and the result is nothing short of magnificent! People who enjoy their prog on the heavier side should find a lot to love on Modern Alchemy.

Elysium Theory walks a thin line between progressive rock and progressive metal on Modern Alchemy. The most noticeable influences I can hear are from Dream Theater, Riverside, and Marillion. The technical mastery hints in the direction of their New York-based prog metal brethren, but the heavy atmospheric sections and melodic guitar solos give Elysium Theory their own distinct sound. Modern Alchemy is an album that can easily satisfy progressive metalheads, without ever completely alienating the traditional progressive rock fans.

After opening up with the brief intro "Lorimer's Pulse", the album takes a straight dive into progressive metal excellence with the title track. The rest of the album encompasses power ballads, heavy prog metal riffs, and plenty of unforgettable melodies. One thing that has blown me away about Modern Alchemy is the sheer quality of the vocal melodies and choruses - every song has a highly memorable chorus, which is, in part, due to the spectacular vocals from Dan Peterson. He simply has a stunning voice that is often akin to James LaBrie (circa Images & Words) or Ray Alder. Elysium Theory isn't all about vocal melodies, though, as the musicianship is spectacular across the board. Benny Reyes delivers a perfect level of atmosphere to the album through his keyboards, and even delivers some terrific synth solos. Tim Reid masters metal riffing and emotional solos on Modern Alchemy, and is yet another shining asset to Elysium Theory's sound. Just listen to his solo spot on "The Source"! The rhythm section consisting of Jeff Fister (bass) and Ted Feeney (drums) is also excellent and provides a solid foundation for the rest of the band.

The only significant complaint I have about the entire album is the production. The mix is a bit muddy, the guitars are often drowned by the over-emphasized drums, and the overall sound is lacking in power. The music is certainly good enough to look past its technical setbacks, but a professional production would've definitely benefited Elysium Theory.

All in all, Modern Alchemy is a tremendously successful debut effort from Elysium Theory. This band has a knack for creating terrific melodies, yet never forgets about creating interesting instrumental sections. Elysium Theory is one of the most promising bands from the current U.S. progressive rock scene, and Modern Alchemy is definitive proof of this. I cannot wait to hear what this band has up their sleeve next! Although I have a few gripes with the production, 4 stars are still very much deserved for this stellar effort. I'd recommend all fans of progressive rock and progressive metal to give this excellent band a try - you won't be disappointed.

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Send comments to J-Man (BETA) | Report this review (#424432)
Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Decent debut, but soooo 1990.

In our quest for mind-blowing progressive rock, we have accepted that many bands are not there to change things or shaking the tree. Therefore, many groups are just doing what they like, and pay respect to their heroes at the same time. Who can blame them? Being part of a band is a satisfying experience, even more when you pull out an album!

You got it, this album will not change your life...unless you never heard When Dream and Day Unite by Dream Theater. At least, that's the first thing that popped into my head at the time, and usually it doesn't lie. Lyrical guitar solos, the too few keyboard solos, a double-bass drum mixed too loud and the Labrie wannabee vocals...sigh.

Not a bad album, but definitely not rocket science: another appetizer into the huge buffet of progressive rock.

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Send comments to Menswear (BETA) | Report this review (#425586)
Posted Thursday, March 31, 2011 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP
Admin / Heavy Prog Team
3 stars A not-so Modern debut

Elysium Theory is one of the slew of new 'Bedroom Producer' bands, with bands forgoing the traditional record label to record and release albums on their own. Sometimes this is an amazing success, with many albums having spectacular production and making for a wonderful independent album. However, I really can't say the same for Elysium Theory's Modern Alchemy. Although the album is full of some really cool compositions, I have quite a bone to pick with the muddy production of the album, and I can't help but think that this sub-par quality hinders the otherwise decent music. Overall, the album is certainly not a horrible album, but I have to say it sounds a bit like the older progressive metal albums of the late 80s and early 90s and sounds a bit outdated.

This 'outdated' sound may have been sought after, as the band seems to have an obvious influence of the progressive metal bands of the era, but now, 20 years after the emergence of the innovative genre, the innovation has worn off. I feel like this is would be a much more critically acclaimed album if it were much older. Of course this album is not bad, with some really great moments with creative melodies and some really cool instrumental passages. I do have to mention, however, that the singer's voice does grate on me. Whether it's just the slightly nasally quality of the voice or just the production muddling his inflection, it almost ruins some of the music. It's not all bad, with some passages being really nice for his voice. But I have to say the best aspect of this album is the instrumental piece, which at times can get a little choppy. Overall, however, this album is a decent display of somewhat retro progressive rock with a metal twinge.

In the end, the album is overall less than your average prog album, but is in no way a bad album. Compositionally, many of the songs are fantastic, with some really great melodies and rhythmic structures. However, mostly due to the production quality of the music, the music is muddled a bit and has a much less dynamic and enjoyable quality to it. Although the album isn't bad, it also isn't spectacular. It is a nice debut for an emerging band, but has too much of an outdated and muddled sound to it. 3- stars.

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Send comments to Andy Webb (BETA) | Report this review (#446819)
Posted Thursday, May 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Neo Prog Team
3 stars Elysium Theory were formed in 2006 by guitarist Tim Reid, keyboardist Benny Reyes, bassist Jeff Fister and drummer Ted Feeney and hail from Woodstock, New York.And based in such a historic location could only lead them to the rockier forms of music.It took the quartet about three years before finding the appropriate singer and this man would eventually be Dan Peterson.With this line-up the group recorded its debut ''Modern Alchemy'', released privately in 2010.

Elysium Theory cite DREAM THEATER, PORCUPINE TREE and PINK FLOYD as the main influences, quite succesfully to my ears.They combine the complex and virtuosic moments of DT, the powerful Heavy Prog grooves of PT and the more dreamy breaks of PF to come up with a sound which is actually completely unoriginal but filled with good ideas and tight compositions.''Modern Alchemy'' consists basically of mid-length pieces, nicely measured between atmospheric vocal parts and demanding textures, featuring plenty of instrumental masturbation and strong rhythmic passages.The guitars are quite crunchy with an evident metallic edge, the singer also has an expressive and a bit of high-pitched voice, while the powerful moments also recall to the Prog Metal territory.But the album is characterized also by smoother interruptions with atmospheric synths, series of melodic moments with a light Heavy/Neo Prog mood and a couple of calmer songs with a ballad atmosphere.

All in all this is an interesting debut by Elysium Theory.The group needs desperately some short of refreshment towards its own identity, but this work will certainly make happy the mass of fans fond of the heavier side of Prog music.Recommended.

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#935803)
Posted Tuesday, March 26, 2013 | Review Permalink

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