It seems Emmanuelle Tito, the man behind the Alchimia project, has a feel for classicism. The fusion of painted, classical artwork with overt utilization of Italian1 and Latin2 on Musa, his first release under this alias, depict a desire for a particular grandiosity which travels beyond the blue collar roots of metal. And the record’s music itself aids this view: it fuses old-school production tendencies with the gothic touches being introduced into metal during the early-mid 90s. It isn’t specifically derivative but evokes an era when forward-thinking metal bands were beginning to diversify their sounds, connecting hitherto disconnected influences.

This substantially manifests itself in music which references the likes of Paradise Lost and Katatonia with its moody, mid-paced doom. But like these bands, more is introduced to generate interesting textures and contrasts between the light and heavy. Murmured whispers, mournful singing and pained growls are all used, while liberal deployment of acoustic guitars, clean electric tones and keyboards mitigate the aggression of the heavier moments. There’s a certain classic metal sensibility to a number of the lead guitar melodies too. The dark veil draped over proceedings and folksy, almost classical, influences lend themselves well to the overarching ‘gothic metal’ tag. The aura of authenticity is substantiated by old-school production which features a wonderful, buzzing guitar tone, boxy drums and fairly light bass.

What became apparent to me over multiple spins of Musa is its subtlety. While I knew I immediately liked the album given its fantastic guitar tone and nifty melodies, particular parts didn’t obviously stand out. No riff is the best you’ll hear; nor vocal melody, nor detailed composition. But in time it has a creeping effect where its recurring ideas embed and its carefully controlled pace contrive to forge a highly satisfying overall experience. This may be attributed to the record’s structure. Similar riffs recur towards the record’s end on “Leaves” and “Oceano Tempesta” which offer a fulfilling return to ideas on the opening tracks. And the finale, “Memory (Assanza),” has surprisingly emotive quiet passages and concludes the record on a heavy but uplifting note. After the general melancholy imbued in the preceding 9 tracks this ray of light is highly welcome.

The greatest criticism against Musa is its patchwork approach to song-writing. Distinct passages on some tracks could be switched without losing their effect. While the passages themselves may not be bad this indicates a lack of consistency and thematic cohesion across the board. Fewer chops and changes would greatly benefit the whole and permit the further development of the strongest material. There is a consequent lack of narrative or direction with which such a fluid album would thrive. A particular sufferer is “Waltz of the Sea” whose meandering opening two-thirds are not justified by its climax. Furthermore, the often jarring transitions compound this patchwork issue. Heavy and light passages simply stop and start across “Lost,” “Exsurge et Vive” and “My Own Sea (Fading).” That said, a more sophisticated bridge is used at 4:55 on “Orizzonte” and “The Fallen One” charts a more satisfying course through its duration, gradually building and layering. These prove that Alchimia is capable of slicker song-writing so it’s simply a matter of honing this quality.

Musa represents a strong keystone release from which improvement is certainly possible. Its core sound is compelling and its brooding atmosphere pervasive. The range of influences are drawn together to construct a singular album which indeed boasts a classical and gothic feel. I’d request greater cohesion and more standout moments to become highly recommended but it’s certainly good enough to pass the time until the next big release.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps MP3
Label: Nadir Music
Releases dates: EU: 2017.05.05 | NA: 05.12.2017

Show 2 footnotes

  1. many of the song titles and lyrics
  2. ”Exsurge et Vive”
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  • Grymm


    EDIT: Also, going by the embedded track, not bad, but you can definitely see room for improvement. I’m kinda getting a Novembre-like vibe from this as well.

  • foreverAlfon

    I like to read the review and then guess the score without looking and I’m proud to say I was right

    • El_Cuervo

      I’ll take that as a compliment

      • foreverAlfon

        please do

    • Sean Sky

      I like to look at the cover art and band name, make a knee-jerk judgement, scroll to the score, and scoff regardless of what it is.

      Then I just assume it’s probably non-trve shite unless it’s some band I already like.

  • Eli Valcik

    Man am I a sucker for classical painting cover art.

    • El_Cuervo

      Nice isn’t it?

      • Eli Valcik

        Yeah, it is.

    • hallowed

      Since that cover is painted by one Ettore Tito, they could be family for all we know.

      • Eli Valcik

        Meh. Plenty of redheads so I’m happy. Reminds me of something by JW Waterhouse + the wreck of hope. Really cool painting.

  • Sounds like something you’d hear at starbucks. Or like a soundtrack to a Canadian show about kids growing up with troubles. Pretty white teens with problems.

  • Paul VH

    I find referencing bands like Katatonia or Paradise Lost misleading as both have drastic sonic swings depending on what era you mean.
    I for one prefer the clean era Katatonia but usually find the reference refers to their first few doom releases……

    I guess I could just listen to the track and not be pretentious. …..but that’s no fun.

    • El_Cuervo

      I sort of implied which era: “gothic touches being introduced into metal during the early-mid 90s”.

      • Paul VH

        Mea culpa.
        I gathered as much.

  • The embedded track sounds good, I might check this out. By the way, I didn’t know Rollo was a musician.

  • Nag Dammit

    “This video is not available” I hate living in the UK sometimes :-(

    • El_Cuervo

      It was working for me when I wrote the review :'(

      • Nag Dammit

        Haha – bloody YouTube. They’re a right uptight bunch I tell ye. Great review though sir. I eventually engaged brain and looked it up on Spotify. Liking what I hear so far. Good shout.

        • El_Cuervo

          Ye there’s definitely good material here. Especially if you give it time to set in.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      I’m not in the UK and it isn’t working here either.

  • rumour_control

    Nice description, and the state of modern film, too, on occasion:
    “…meandering opening two-thirds are not justified by its climax.”

    • El_Cuervo

      It’s how I feel about porn too :(

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra
  • Nahuel Benvenuto

    the embedded track cannot be heard ,it is unavailable

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    How are you, El?

    • El_Cuervo

      Nae too bad ABFF, nae too bad. Yourself?

      And it’s funny to me when people call me El, it’s like my actual name but not quite…

      • AlphaBetaFoxface

        I’m great, El. Just watched a documentary about an underground tickling ring costing people their public image.

        It’s just as funny when people call me ABFF because I know they have no idea how to address me. I’ve gotten ABFf, ABF, ABFF, Alpha, shit, Al, Foxface, and Ainsley Harriot.

        I should start calling you El_.

  • Varg Vikernes

    The guy’s name is Emanuele, Emmanuelle is a 70s soft porn movie…