MP3 Alchemy X - 11:59:59
Progressive rock''s Alchemy X embark on a concept album in the vein of Marillion''s "Misplaced Childhood"
13 MP3 Songs
METAL/PUNK: Progressive Metal, METAL/PUNK: Heavy Metal
by Steve Ratchen
(produced by Rob Schreiber and Alchemy X, recorded at DMS Studios, Long Island City, NY between November 2001/August 2002, mixed and mastered by Konstantin “Mozart” Kamcev)
Released in January 2003 on CD by Unisound Records, Greece
The genesis of this record began before the first album was even released. In fact, those people who were at the record release show at Down Time in Manhattan back in March 1999 can attest to the fact that seminal versions of “A Kiss Before Dying” and “Renaissance” were both played that night! Other bits and pieces that ended up on this record were played at various shows during 1999 (Club Bene, Birch Hill, etc.) when we were actually supporting the first record. When Marty left the band in the fall of 1999 (and then again after a brief second stint in 2000) we balanced writing music for the new album with searching for a new vocalist. By the time I found Bob in March 2001, almost all of the music had been written, and I had lyrics for most of it along with a vague idea to do a concept album. I always liked the time-based title, so overly dramatic yet compelling to look at, and wanted to do an homage to bands like Marillion when they wrote concept records like “Misplaced Childhood” and “Clutching at Straws”. The idea was to loosely structure a story around the pieces, with little interlocking musical passages, but to make the material strong enough to stand out on its own as well. I have to give Bob credit for the idea of the central protagonist being a hit-man, and I crafted the “banality of evil” story-line, where this guy is on his deathbed, recounting his misspent life in flashback sequence, and how easy, routine, and almost untraceable his descent into this kind of depravity really was. We all owe a great debt to Chris Fox, not only for his unbelievably great guitar work and composition, but it’s his photographs of the Manhattan skyline from a Long Island City perspective that adorn both the font and back cover of this record.
From a production point of view, this record couldn’t have been more different from our debut. First of all, both Rob and Chris Scorsese bought Digital Performa recording units with all the accoutrements, greatly lessening the stress of working on someone else’s clock and meter. We did the pre-production work at Scorsese’s, and then Rob took the helm as producer and we were able to really maximize our productivity. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for him to continually shift his focus from player to producer and back again, but I can’t imagine anyone would’ve done a better job, or gotten more out of us!
Nuts and bolts-wise, there are the obvious changes to having Bob as vocalist, stylistically so different from Marty, as well as my change to the Conklin 7-string bass. Aesthetically, I think we were more interested in telling a story, evoking emotions, so that the song was the"thing”, so to speak, and we didn’t feel the need to wow the audience with our spectacular technical prowess, perhaps because we felt we’d already accomplished that part of the equation with our first effort.
Oddly enough, other than all the usual tensions you encounter, the process of recording “59” was so much smoother than “ADB”, strange and ironic considering the material is much darker, more stark and barren, and I think the record captures the quiet desperation I had hoped it would. Conversely, the four of us were in much better places emotionally for this record than for the first.
People who are interested in Marillion Savatage Dream Theater should consider this download.