Progressive Metal • United States
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ELYSIUM THEORY is a U.S.-based progressive rock/metal band. They were formed in 2006 and self-released their debut, "Modern Alchemy", in 2010.

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ELYSIUM THEORY Modern Alchemy album cover 3.62 | 3 ratings
Modern Alchemy
Progressive Metal 2010
ELYSIUM THEORY Event Horizon album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Event Horizon
Progressive Metal 2013


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Album · 2013 · Progressive Metal
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Elysium Theory 's followup to their 2010 debut "Modern Alchemy" has finally seen the light of day after a three year hiatus. This time around the band have opted for a more melodic approach without the dominant guitar riffs and heaviness of the predecessor. As usual the cover artwork is incredible and it would be nice to see more of this in a booklet form but there is no booklet on offer. "Event Horizon" is an album that opens with three incredible tracks with technical structures and guitar fury and then it tends to settle into a more accessible melodic rock feel. These songs in the mid section of the album dampen the impact of the opening; they are less progressive and have a commercial vibe, that was not as present on the debut. This surprised me as I remember how much the debut was full of inventive musicianship and complex structures. This is not to say that the album does not have these moments, but it certainly spreads them out between the opening three tracks and the dynamic finale epic, bookending the album superbly. Therefore the album is not quite consistent in terms of its progressive nature, unlike the far superior debut.

Focussing on the high points, "Event Horizon" opens with 'B'AK'TUN 13', an intro of atmospheric keyboards of Benny Reyes, with a haunting residue of whispers and portentous drones. This mystical ambience breaks out into 'Long Count,' that strikes with the electrifying guitars of Tim Reid. The rhythms are fractured with the outbursts of Jeff Fister's bass and Ted Feeney's drums. The track then locks into a hard hitting riff and Daniel Peterson's vocals ask "should we now seize the day", reminding me of Dream Theater's James LaBrie. The style is similar to DT also on this track. The singing is exceptional with high register tones mixed with moments of gentle melancholy. The lead break is wonderful harmonised with twin guitar melodies, but it is the keyboard work that lifts this track to a new level. This is one of the best tracks on the album and a grand way to open the album.

'Clockwork Earth' is an 8 minute extravaganza of incredible musicianship, beginning with a Pink Floyd style guitar riff, and then some atmospheric keyboards generating a hypnotic melody. I love the lyrics on this song; "Teetering on a razors edge, running on without a care, we lose the fight with great delight, absorbed by tubes and magic lights." This is definitely a song worth checking out to hear the best of Elysium Theory.

'Illuminated' is a balladic song with some excellent vocals and has a very measured tempo sounding more like a power ballad. 'Halo' is a brief spacey instrumental, segued nicely with 'Pictures in the Sand', a heavier song, that builds from melancholy to a bright upbeat style. Peterson's vocals dominate and are easy on the ears throughout, always clean and emotively executed.

'The Arrival' is another short instrumental with some terrific guitar and then a clock ticking leads to 'Travelers in Time' with superb keyboard pads creating ambient textures. It is a long song at 8:32 running time, and begins with the same measured style as the previous songs, and at this point it felt a bit too much like the same thing rather than a variation of methods. A faster song might have been more effective, as it is rather dreamy music. As always the musicianship is excellent, the percussion especially is inventive and the lead guitar break soars beautifully. The song then breaks into an interlude of soft chimes, and some exquisite guitar reverberation, one of the best parts of the album. The extended lead break is a welcome addition giving the vocals a rest and allowing the listener to indulge in the atmospherics. A new time sig enters and it finally ends with the chorus about the multitudes that search for answers; "so many wrong so many right, ? are we just travellers in time?" This song is another highlight due to the innovative structure.

'Church of the Serpent' has a quirky tempo driven by a kind of Country Rock sound on the guitars, and the false preacher tells the mesmerised crowd to gather around. The organ grinding is terrific with an old school 70s feel, and overall this one has a unique resonance. It sounds like a throwback to retro rock to capture the desert scape where cults gather to touch the snake or allow it to inject its poison and then be healed miraculously; a genuine cult that exists. The language is permeated with religious symbolism; "looked into the eyes of the serpent, saw the face of god, baptised in brimstone, call the prophet father, sword and servant holy ghost ? cup running over... it trickles down." The Hammond organ sound really makes this song stand out; it is so different it stands out as yet another highlight of the album.

'Transmission Alpha' is a soft ballad; "here I am watching time stand still, surrounded by circuits". The violin sound of the keys is pleasant. The lyrics are about searching for meaning; "will we ever be found somehow lost coordinates unclear? where is here?" The guitar rhythms are modulated well with the bass, and there are some jumpy percussion beats. It really is a beautiful song that prepares for the more inventive finale to come.

'Cask of Amontillado' ends the album with another gem, inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, a huge influence on prog musicians, so I was looking forward to this as a Poe fan. Anyone who knows this tale of terror knows that it is based on revenge, deception and betrayal resulting in the incarceration of a rich Lord who finds himself buried alive in the walls of a tomb brick by brick. The song opens with 'I The Insult' with a narrative intro taken from the tale that works well, then a hypno guitar riff and some great percussion splashes. The beat is heavier, faster and ominous, then it locks into a steady time sig. The lyrics speak of "sweet, so bitter sweet, a taste of revenge burns in my soul". This feels like a Dream Theater song or Riverside with all the vocal theatrics and odd time sig changes.

As the protagonist, Montresor, plans "no better punishment of a deserving kind" for the constant insults of Fortunado, the music takes on a circus feel, with an odd waltz rhythm on 'II The Carnival'. This is a definite break from the rest of the album's style which works very well to add suspense to the macabre tale being told. The story is easy to follow lyrically as "the trap is set, I have his mind, and he to follow." The lead break flows organically with the atmospheric keyboards. This is a superb passage of music. Suddenly a metal guitar riff crashes in on 'III Coat Of Arms', and the music gets darker as the protagonist leads his intoxicated victim into the dark chambers. There is even a piano outburst and it leads to the final part.

'IV The Catacombs' opens with quiet guitars and howling wind along with grand expulsions of drum beats. "The air is stale" opens the lyrics and we know we are now drawing near to the climax of the tale where the victim is chained up and about to be bricked into the wall. Peterson sounds even more like LaBrie, and it is great how the music builds ominously. This song made me want to dust off my Complete Poe anthology and check if the lyrics were similar to the tale itself. Lyrically the main components of the tale are mentioned, in reinvented poetry "the screams of fate, in the ears to penetrate", and using the old style language is essential in order to capture these haunting tales. There is a tinge of sadness in the music as the bricks are laid in place incarcerating Fortunado eternally, with guitar and piano bouncing off delightfully. The final gentle piece and chilling silence has the quiet lyrics that become a mantra for the protagonist, having completed the deed, "Sweet so bitter sweet, a taste of revenge burns my soul, or in the mind no better punishment than a deserving kind."

Overall "Event Horizon" is another solid album from Elysium Theory, that could have been improved with more attention to their progressive side. The opening tracks, parts of the mid section and especially the finale are the band at their best, as good as the debut album. This latest release can be recommended for 'Cask of Amontillado' definitely, and it has some exceptional musicianship well worth seeking out. 3.5 stars.


Album · 2010 · Progressive Metal
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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.


Album · 2010 · Progressive Metal
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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.


Album · 2010 · Progressive Metal
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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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