Sorry for the long period of absence, we return today with a song by the symphonic black metal band Grand Alchemist. After the release of their first (and only to date) album, Intervening Coma-Celebration, in 2002, Grand Alchemist have pretty much disappeared. Their official site is down, with the last update made in 2006, there isn't a lot of activity on their myspace page either and all news of progression for a new album seemed to have trickled off. After listening to "Down Again" however, I am absolutely flummoxed by this standstill in their career because they seem in every aspect to be a quality band who really know their stuff.
If "Down Again" is any indication, Grand Alchemist is heavily keyboards driven, but that doesn't mean that the guitars are neglected in any way. Both elements work together very well to form varied melodies that makes the song worth listening to again and again. The opening intro particularly appeals to me for its "Alice in Wonderland" feel. Harsh vocals are nicely pitched, and go pretty ok with the tempo. In fact, as far as I'm concerned, "Down Again" is catchy in the way that only a metal song can be, in its musical intricacies and not simply in its chorus or melodies. The only slight drawback is a typical one, the lyrics are not quite up to par. There is structure, and rhyming, so that the singing is in sync with the song. But the meaning of the song is sketchy at best and apart from the general negativity you're not likely to know what the song is trying to put across.
Overall, "Down Again" is less dark than it is melodic and at some points, melancholic, but remains a fine example of symphonic metal that holds true to the latter term as it does to the former. But the mastery of Grand Alchemist reveling in its chosen genre of symphonic black metal is expressed through the hint of creepy eeriness that presented itself in the beginning and lingered throughout the song. This is undoubtedly metal, and fine metal at that.
The rather interesting thing about their music video is that for a song that might be accused of having too much synths and keyboards in it, there is no 'boardist featured at all. In fact, the keyboards strike up even as the band members are shown to be entering the room and picking up their instruments, as if its a supernatural phenomenon. Maybe there's some sort of implication there hmm..