Maycon Bianchi: Alquimia

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Maycon Bianchi: Alquimia
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Maycon Bianchi, Alquimia
Progressive Rock
Self-release
Progressive Rock
Release length: 44:31
Website
Maycon Bianchi is a group that comes to us from Brazil, helmed by the guitarist of the same name as the band. Alquimia marks the debut full-length recording, an independent mixture of classic Rock ideals with a modern, Progressive Rock touch. For the most part, this album is largely instrumentals, but it does feature a few vocal tracks to it. But does this effort really stand out in the growing Progressive fields, or even the general broad Rock style?

The audio quality to this release is pretty good for an independent recording. The audio feels pretty sleek for the most part, but the deeper guitars that work with the hard-hitting bass do give the audio a slightly abrasive edge that the cleaner leads don’t have. The latter of the guitars can actually feel like liquid at times, having a fluid, clear sound that compliments the varying atmospheres of the songs nicely. The drums don’t quite feel as stylish though, and manage to keep the release feeling grounded with a heavier presence. The echo effect on the snares sounds great against its full sound, while the cymbals and kicks all share the same volume, though both stick out well thanks to the proper leveling of all the instruments. The cymbals don’t really sound as though they are taking control of the music in any way, which is works for the focus on the guitars, and the kicks have a slight click to them that works for the lighter sound of the music.

But it’s the amount of variety brought into Alquimia that really can grab the attention of the listener. There is a clear inspiration from many instrumentalists out there, such as Joe Satriani and Santana, the second of those two references being the larger one you can easily pick up on. Much of the album also caters to the more Progressive Rock side of things, but “Alpha Dog” is not afraid to throw in a little edgier Progressive Metal material. The song relies a lot of tighter riffs that set a bit of a wandering atmosphere that you can simply lay back and let the music sweep you away. There are also a good deal of moments where more the guitar performance becomes much tighter and more technical than other songs will have, but not really going out of context with the music to show off skills or perform against the natural flow of the music. But with that abrasive edge of “Alpha Dog” out-of-the-way, “Radiation” comes in to give the listener quite an interesting fix. The song clearly has a strong Glam Rock sound to it, while some additional synths and extra Progressive guitar chords come into play to make it feel like a Space Rock influence track. It’s also quite interesting to hear how the song eventually turns into something one might expect to hear from a video game, such as the atmospheric tunes associated with Sonic the Hedgehog titles. The variety with this track may seem to be a bit too much, but in the end it’s all meshed well together through solid transitions and a fluid mid-tempo pace.

Much of the release after that seems to really try to bring in a bit of an emotional tone with a clear Brazilian heritage found deep in the roots of the music. “Pollution” doesn’t really cater to those things though, and brings it back around to the sound of “Alpha Dog,” just not as heavy as some of those riffs tend to be. The song has a more vibrant atmosphere to it that feels adventurous and, again, wandering. The track itself is very soothing despite the much lighter tone and mid-pace of the track. The focus on more Rock oriented riffs throughout the song also helps to keep the song a bit more unique compared to the aforementioned track, and just overall becomes a very fun song to cut loose with. But, the party does die down rather quickly with the more intimate “Freedom.” The liquid-like guitar chords play up the dark, romantic atmosphere well, bringing a candlelit passion to the music that is simply stunning, and equally as soothing to kick back and listen to with your favorite vice handy.

This album does have a few songs that feature clean singing instead of the additional push from the guitars like the instrumental tracks. These are interesting for a different reason obviously, though musically never really seem to differ much thanks to the tone of the music each song has. “Coisas Que Pintam” is a bit of a more emotional track, an atmosphere that does carry on throughout the album at this point. The additional background female vocals really help the song out with that specific touch to the environment as well, and the music itself sounds good, playing more into a traditional Rock foundation then anything else, but a bit darker than you would expect. The same can be said with “Refugio,” though this one really does incorporate more of the Brazilian musical roots than “Coisas Que Pintam” does. The atmosphere feeds off the romantic, passionate sound of “Freedom,” shifting from one track to another nicely. From start to finish, “Refugio” remains a solid offering, though it seems as if the track ends a little prematurely. It’s less than three-minute track length leaves the listener feeling like more could have been done with the track then what is here. But, the final track to include singing, “Sinal,” feels very out-of-place. Coming off more like what one might expect to hear at a sixties high school dance, the song’s early Rock roots are good, but end up feeling more cheesy then emotional, and the vocals also try their part at enhancing what passion is there, only sounding a little too cheap for this release, as if trying to force this song into being something that would appeal more to mainstream audiences.

Alquimia is pretty solid throughout, though it does have it’s faults. Many of the songs are good, but only a handful are really that impressive for a release like this. Either way, it’s refreshing to hear a new group forge ahead in an instrumental approach considering how unfavorably it’s looked upon in media today, and for a debut offering, Alquimia is something a little more special than other bands in the Progressive Rock field. Maycon Bianchi doesn’t really focus on sustaining one atmosphere, and displays the abilities he and the other members of the group have to create a rather passionate, relaxing, or just generally fun sound, leaving something for pretty much everyone here, especially for fans of this style of music.

01. Alpha Dog – 5:16
02. Radiation – 4:48
03. Adrenaline – 2:39
04. Coisas Que Pintam – 3:20
05. Origem – 2:40
06. Dream – 4:43
07. Pollution – 4:37
08. Freedom – 4:45
09. Refugio – 2:54
10. Cross – 5:05
11. Sinal – 3:46
Overall Score: 8/10


Physical review copy of this release provided by Maycon Bianchi.