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Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • Australia

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Alchemist biography
ALCHEMIST were formed in 1987 in Canberra,Australia by Adam Agius(vocals,guitar).The line-up he assembled has remained intact from 1992 to the present and consists of Roy Torkington(guitar),Rodney Holder(drums,percussion) and John Bray(bass).A fifth member,Nick Wall,provides samples at live performances.

Starting out as a thrash metal band,Agius started combining influences that range from the earliest experiments in '70s progressive rock to the most current trends in extreme metal - all blended into an improbably seamless and wholly unique style of their own.Agius then began to experiment with a wider array of musical genres (especially death metal and progressive rock) and began incorporating them into the band's extreme metal leanings.
Since releasing their debut album "Jar of Kingdom" in 1993,ALCHEMIST has continually tried to raise awareness of the Australian metal scene,and was involved in bringing the Southern Hemisphere's largest metal showcase day,Metal for the Brain,to fruition.

"Lunashpere" was released in 1995 and "Spiritech" followed soon after in 1997.ALCHEMIST joined forces with Chatterbox Records in 2000 and in 2001 released the crtitcally acclaimed "Organasm" album. "Organasm" showcased a band across so many genres it was impossible to ignore the noise coming from the south any longer. Relapse Records heard the quality picked up the band and added it to its already burgeoning roster of talent.

After their longest hiatus yet ALCHEMIST recorded and released 2003's "Austral Alien",which is a clear display of their evolution, with a more polished and electronic influenced sound. ALCHEMIST have also cited the influence of legendary Australian rock band MIDNIGHT OILl on this album, with the lyrics centering on environmental issues affecting their country.

Since then ALCHEMIST has released a compilation album that covers material released between 1993 to 1998, including material from the first three albums,the 1998 EP release and demo material. Bonus tracks include two songs recorded live on the radio in 1996.The band is also working on a DVD,which will be released in 2006.

Playing fresh,original progressive metal that combines a multitude of different styles,ALCHEMIST comes highly recommended to all Progressive Metal fans seeking something a little different.

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ALCHEMIST discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

ALCHEMIST top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.21 | 10 ratings
Jar of Kingdom
3.36 | 11 ratings
4.24 | 27 ratings
3.95 | 17 ratings
3.59 | 17 ratings
Austral Alien
3.45 | 19 ratings

ALCHEMIST Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ALCHEMIST Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ALCHEMIST Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ALCHEMIST Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Spiritech by ALCHEMIST album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.24 | 27 ratings

Alchemist Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Spiritech" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Australian extreme metal act Alchemist. The album was released through Thrust/Shock Records in June 1997. The band released a promotional music video for the track "Road to Ubar". "Spiritech" is generally a critically acclaimed release...

...and itīs obvious why that is, when listening to the album. Both "Jar of Kingdom (1993)" and especially "Lunasphere (1995)" were promising album releases, but Alchemist takes their music to a whole new level on "Spiritech". Stylistically the music is quite the eclectic mix of musical styles like death/thrash metal, progressive/psychadelic rock and middle eastern influences. There are even a few nods toward Australian aboriginal music on the album. Itīs a metalized version of Killing Joke Iīm mostly thinking about when listening to "Spiritech" though, which should not be perceived as a criticism of the bandīs writing style, but just a way to explain how the music sounds. There is generally a bleak atmosphere on the album but also a more aggressive edge and there are sections on the album where the band really unleash their anger in a convincing manner.

This is dynamic music and however raw some parts of the music are there is always a mellow section or some other adventurous/psychadelic surprise lurking around the corner. Best examplified in longer tracks like "Chinese Whispers" and "Figments", which bookend the album (and which are both around 10 minutes long), but also in the more regular length tracks. The tracks are generally intriguing but not overtly complex in structure.

The musicianship is on a high level. The two guitars seldom play the same notes. Instead they compliment each other which provides the music with great depth and richness in detail. The strong and adventurous rhythm section is also a great asset to the bandīs sound. The vocals by Adam Agius (vocals, guitar, keyboards) are raw and delivered with passion and conviction. The musicianship was also great on the two predecessors, but the sound productions on those two albums let them down. Thankfully thatīs not the case with "Spiritech", which features a professional and powerful sound production. All in all itīs actually quite a great release and itīs like Alchemist really came into their own on this album. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

 Spiritech by ALCHEMIST album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.24 | 27 ratings

Alchemist Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by bonestorm

5 stars Aussie metal legends Alchemist really brought everything together for their 1997 release "Spiritech". There's much to admire here, probably the finest entry in their catalogue.

The album gets underway with the throbbing, pulsating rhythm section really giving the music an early sense of momentum. Alchemist transition beautifully between the harder edged styles and more brooding, atmospherics with a great sense of coherency. It's something I've always loved about their songs. These are not one dimensional metal tracks. With the use of some clever songwriting and that trademark, exotic sounding lead guitar there's so much more on offer here.

Mixed in you'll find some tribal percussion, spacey synth atmospherics and the use of samples to keep things interesting.

Lyrically, the album revolves around how technology is affecting human spirituality. Who would've thought with an album title like "Spiritech"! This theme resonates especially in the title track, which very effectively uses a sample in the introduction, where a man muses that Earth might unite and forget our differences if we were to be threatened by a force from outer space. It's a powerful concept, that our differences really only come down to our perceptions. The music to accompany such an idea is suitably majestic.

Overall this is a diverse and complex collection of tracks that showcases great songwriting and imagination. It's alternatively hard hitting and atmospheric with everything in between. The fact that all of these styles are done so well is an indication of something great.

 Lunasphere by ALCHEMIST album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.36 | 11 ratings

Alchemist Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by bonestorm

4 stars Alchemist are an important and influential figure in the Australian prog metal scene. Thus it was a surprise to me that this excellent album, "Lunasphere" has only seen one review on PA. It's worthy of more attention than that.

I'll state up front that I'm more drawn to the melodic and atmospheric side of Alchemist, but their heavier elements are also very good. These guys are wonderful musicians, make no mistake about it. On "Lunsasphere" there's a great blend of simple melodies, more complex arrangements and an overall sense of spirituality in both lyric and music that are the hallmarks of this band.

After a brutal opening, the first track "Soul Return" transitions to one of those brilliant atmospheric sections mid way through. There's great layering of guitar, bass and synth-like sounds before things ramp up again for an up tempo outro.

A couple of my favourite tracks come in the latter half of the album. "Yoni Kunda" opens with another trait that's very pervasive in Alchemists' music - an eastern flavoured guitar riff. It's instantly memorable and catchy. There's a wonderful sense of momentum about this song as it revolves around that opening riff for the five minute duration. With subtle variations the song stays fresh throughout.

"Garden of Eroticism" starts with an unusual use of percussion and is once again beautifully layered as the other instruments join in. Roy Torkington is in full flight on guitar in this track and its a wonderful thing to behold. In the latter half the spacey atmospherics return and Adam Agius' vocals provide a harsh counterpoint to this dreamy soundscape. He also throws in an unbelievable heavy metal scream to top it off.

Production values are ok, but not brilliant. I would have loved to have seen what these guys could do on a bigger budget for the album. As it stands there's a great raw feeling to "Lunasphere", and having seen them live a couple of times touring for this album in the mid-90s, I can attest that it translates very well to a live performance.

For those new to Alchemist, I would suggest starting with those feature tracks "Yoni Kunda" and "Garden of Eroticism". I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised.

 Tripsis by ALCHEMIST album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.45 | 19 ratings

Alchemist Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by thesleeper72

3 stars Alchemist still remains among the top metal bands out there. However, as seen with their previous release Austral Alien, Alchemist seems to have fallen into a trap of producing the same song over and over again.

Don't get me wrong. The musicianship here is still top notch. However, I feel as if I am hearing the same song again and again. The only songs that stand out in my head are Nothing in no Time and God Shaped Hole. The others I could not determine if you played me a random clip of it.

However, this is still some great and heavy music. I would much rather listen to this than any offering that Slipknot, Killswitch Engage, or As I Lay Dying. Even though they sound the same for the most part, they are still top quality songs and none of them are terrible or leaving you empty inside.

Without a doubt, those who were expecting another Spiritech or Organasm will likely be disappointed. However, those coming to it simply to rock their head off, will enjoy it.

 Jar of Kingdom by ALCHEMIST album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.21 | 10 ratings

Jar of Kingdom
Alchemist Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by JJLehto
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The debut album from Aussie prog metal band Alchemist.

I say prog metal because while there is heaviness, intensity and growls o plenty, musically this is far outside anything in the realm of death metal. Death, Atheist, Cynic even Edge of Sanity never created such an out there product.

"Jar of Kingdom" is a blend of death metal influenced prog metal and psychedelia. There is also some very noticeable Eastern influence. It is an intriguing and ambitious effort that doesn't seem fully developed on this album. While I applaud the effort, (and am glad to know I'm not alone in thinking you can like extreme metal and Pink Floyd)it is just not fully "there" yet. The album is a bit inconsistent, and while Adam Agius' vocals aren't the worst by any means, I'm not really a fan. His shrill growls are actually a lot more energetic than the standard, but also can be as laughable at times. Not a turn off, but not the best.

Musically, the songs have very progressive structures that can range from blast beat death metal to spaced out, Pink Floyd style movements. The music can stop and start on a dime, usually with wild shifts in tempo and style. The guitar work features both heavy, death metal and psychedelic, trippy styles, often at the same time.

The guitar work and song structures are easily the strongest thing on this album, unique and unorthodox are the only ways to put it. As well as awesome. The drumming is fitting and more than servicable.

Just for a change of pace, songs like "Found" are mellow and feature female vocals, and "Whale" is an acoustic piece with some type of tribal drumming, xylophones (or synths) and the sounds of whales.

Some standout songs are "Abstraction" (with its relaxing and brutal movements and sweet psychedelic melodies) "Shell" featuring surprisingly nice melodies, and "Brumal-A View From Pluto" which has one of the best openings I've ever heard and is a particularly brutal and usual piece. I love the surf rock riff over blast beats and distorted mess of tremolo picking.

The finale "Worlds Within Worlds" is a true musical journey, which features some of the best melodies and writing on the album. While some other songs can suffer from a lack of cohesiveness, this one works perfectly for most of it, and is really one of the more unique things I've ever heard. Where else can you feel like relaxing in a Middle Eastern palace and headbanging in a doom metal show??

Very interesting album that makes me feel ashamed I never herd of this band until 2011. What Alchemist tried to do on this album is not easy, and indeed it sounds a bit chaotic at times. Not organized chaos though, more like 2 buses carrying a death metal and psychedelic rock band collided. Sometimes awkward but it also works and the musicianship and songwriting skills here are impressive.

Good, but not great, album that leaves you wanting a bit more. Recommended listen for fans of prog metal (that have some taste for the extreme) and if not, probably best to avoid this unique album.

Three Stars

 Spiritech by ALCHEMIST album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.24 | 27 ratings

Alchemist Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

5 stars If you think that a prog band should have at least one member dressed in a long cape, and/or feature a keyboard player going tweedeledoo on his organ, or should be all about album side long tracks with lots of guitar solos and/or weird mathematics in the time signature area, then you can stop reading this review right away and start doing more interesting things like preparing a meal for your beloved. If however, your prog rock can be a no-nonsense metal attack from outer space, embedding influences from many musical dark forces, you better bare with me as Alchemist might be just the band for you!

Ok, now that we have the non believers out of the way, let's get to the point. After two inconspicuous death metal albums, Alchemist took a drastic turn towards a more diverse musical idiom and delivered their most varied, most progressive and best album to date. On Spiritech they play a brutal, intense but intelligent take on space metal. The music is highly eclectic and can be traced back to many sources with a good balance between atmosphere, melody and power.

First of all Voivod comes to mind, somewhere between the scourging fury of Dimension Hatross and their Floyd covers Astronomy Domine and Nile Song That leads to a second obvious influence: Pink Floyd from the 60's. The melodies are very psychedelic and eastern tinged, complete with tribal drumming and even featuring a chilling rendition of the Careful With That Axe Eugene scream by their excellent vocalist.

Talking about the vocalist, he's quite a versatile chap, next to the mentioned reproduction of Eugene, he varies between a low register clean voice, a hoarse 90's style Killing Joke bellowing and coarse but soulful metal grunts in the vein of Entombed (or Motorhead if the Entombed reference would scare you). Of course, the first time you will miss these subtle differences but repeated listens reveal his range!

Now, Killing Joke you say? What kind of prog is that? None at all of course. As I mentioned somewhere before, the band takes influences from many sources: metal obviously, psychedelic/space/prog or whatever you name it, ethnic influences and also new wave. Especially the first generation gothic bands that used haunted atmospheres and hypnotizing tribal drumming, like Bauhaus, Killing Joke and Siouxsie are in the melting point.

I've been longwinded enough so I will abstain from track by track reviewing. They are all excellent anyway. Instead I have got one more argument to make. Why 5 stars? Well to start with, you must have guessed I deem this band very high. Their unique approach to space rock combined with their energy and song skills makes them one of my favourite bands of the millennium era years. All of their albums from Spiritech onwards are 4 stars. This one gets one on top because it is their best. A most diverse release with a prominent prog dose.

A sad note to conclude: This album is not available for sale anymore! So why did I bother you for so long? Well you can find most of the songs back on a compilation album called 'Embryonics 90-98'. I'll be delighted though if it sees a full re-release but I'm afraid it may be not commercial enough for that. Thanks for you patient indulgence and give them a shot!

 Tripsis by ALCHEMIST album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.45 | 19 ratings

Alchemist Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

3 stars Alchemist continues to release top quality metal albums in a time where 99% of all metal releases are complete dross. I bet there's more then hundred metal releases every month so claiming one percent is good might even be too optimistic. But anyway, Alchemist reside in the top of the genre. Unfortunately not in popularity though. I think this might be part of the reason why they attempted a much more metalized industrial approach on Tripsis: short and aggressive tracks, hoarse singing only and, unfortunately, less diversity in the song writing.

It seems to be really very difficult these days to find a metal band that does not keep repeating their one trick over the course of an entire album. And Alchemist has fallen in the same trap on this album. All songs are still pretty good but I'm exhausted by the time the album gets halfway. It gets me really worried about the next album. Will also the subtly layered guitars have to go in favour of a typical metal riff-fest?

Let's hope not. That they may find their way back into the more progressive galaxies they used to hike to a few albums back. First half of the album is 4 stars, second half 3 stars.

 Austral Alien by ALCHEMIST album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.59 | 17 ratings

Austral Alien
Alchemist Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars Next chapter on the speedway to the galaxy. Austal Alian is another enjoyable album from Alchemist. Due to the focus on tight playing and fast riotous rhythms, the album has a slightly more industrial feel then its predecessors. But as the songs are strong as ever and the vocals keep their distinctive diversity, there's still enough to please a metal endorsing prog fan here. Alpha Cappella Nova Vega is the high point and might even serve as a perfect introduction to this band. With its fine echo laden guitar strumming, hypnotizing mantra and steadily building crescendo, the song is immediately accessible. The remainder of the album is right up to the same height but might take you a bit more time to digest.
 Organasm by ALCHEMIST album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.95 | 17 ratings

Alchemist Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars Looking at the poor reception here I feel obliged to offer another great argumentation on how great this band is and especially on this album again. We'll start with a warning. This band is really heavy so if Voivod and Opeth are too metal for you, you sure won't enjoy this. Anybody else, please stay with me and indulge me drooling over this album.

Alchemist play brutal, fast, intelligent space metal. The vocals are generally gruff but varied, with some low key chanting, Killing Joke bellowing, rough but decent death metal grunts and occasional Umma Gumma screaming. In comparison to the previous album the songs have become more concise and I must admit, a bit less diverse, with less room for extended instrumental passages or psychedelic effects. But there are no weak tracks, the guitars are beautifully layered and the very full and fat production fits their sound very well.

Each song is an epic journey through their sci-fi topic matter. You won't find catchy choruses or singalongs on the way, only densely layered atmospheres on top of irresistible grooves. The rhythm of this band is one of their most attractive features. There an unstoppable urgency in this music, almost invoking fear by its stringent command. And on subsequent albums they would shift the tempo even another gear further up!

 Austral Alien by ALCHEMIST album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.59 | 17 ratings

Austral Alien
Alchemist Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by lucas
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Alchemist is a metal band that mixes influences from industrial metal scene (alternance of clear and harsh vocals on some tracks, in the vein of Fear Factory, vocals reminiscent of Pitch Shifter's earlier efforts), Killing Joke at the time of 'Extremities, dirt and various repressed emotions' (the vocalist is also clearly influenced by Jaz Coleman), and stoner rock in the style of Queens of the Stone Age. I f we dig deeper, we can also find some cold-wave influences (Siouxsie and the Banshees or the more recent Editors). The music deals with harsh vocals (Killing Joke-type) alterned with clear vocals, excellent overall drumming without overabundance of time changes but with enough diversity to keep the listener interested. Keyboards are also present to support the sci-fi themes of the songs. Overall, this is a good album but 3 stars seems to be the most appropriate rating as this is not a prog album per se.
Thanks to TheProgtologist for the artist addition.

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