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.