By Dr. Abner Mality

Denmark's Alkymist tear me in two directions with their self-titled debut. The band plays a crushing but atmospheric kind of doom metal that on one hand can be rather tedious and a chore to get through, but on the other hand, it creates a certain kind of feeling and emotion so well that I can think of few bands that rival it.

When you listen to the six (five really, since one track is less than a minute long) tunes here, you have the overwhelming feeling that you are dragging a heavy burden behind you and struggling to take the next exhausted step. Alkymist's trudging, plodding doom makes you feel like Sisyphus rolling that damn rock uphill or maybe a slave dragging a wagon of heavy items behind you. There is an emotional weariness and struggle to the grinding heaviness that weighs upon your soul. The grating harsh vocals add to the punishing sensation. If this was the feeling the band was after, they succeeded wildly. The trouble is, it is really hard to get through.

There's no doubt this is a monstrously heavy album with a crushing guitar sound. There are touches of classic Candlemass doom, the mournful English style of My Dying Bride and utter death/doom. Mixed with that are minor key guitar melodies that conjure up a post-metal kind of feel. It's a hard slog and I could have done with some more variation, but that emotional weight is palpable. Favorite track was "Paradise" with a very Middle Eastern kind of melodic feel to the riffing that was cool. The band describes itself as progressive but the only track where I got that impression is the ten minute plus "Serpent", where there's quite a bit of that softer post-metal piddling and some odd guitar tones. 

I can recommend Alkymist to those who like their music very heavy and very oppressive, but all others beware.