Release DetailsLABEL N/A
RELEASED ON 6/3/2007
posted on 7/2007 By:
Twenty-seven year old Julien Carayon comes to you from PACA, France, bringing along his ten-plus years of guitar playing experience and his debut release, the fully instrumental Lethal Alchemy. His story is a familiar one, showing a kid who only knew what mainstream radio’s top 40 music had to offer, but with a little help from the Metal Gods – and spotting a fellow classmate with a denim jacket sporting the legendary Motörhead logo on the back – it was Iron Maiden’s Live After Death album that came along and changed his life and officially brought him over to the dark side. When the energetic opening to "Aces High" came flowing through his speakers, it was right then and there that he knew playing guitar was how he wanted to spend his remaining days. As nearly every metalhead on this rock of mud knows, once you get that small ‘taste of the metal’, it’s damn near impossible to stop feeding on it as you live each day with a hunger that simply will not go away.
Lethal Alchemy is comprised of seven tracks of instrumental guitar oriented music influenced by the likes of Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, and Dream Theater’s John Petrucci, just to name a few. When trying to put together a solo project of this sort and clearly wearing your influences so openly on your sleeve, you have a lot to live up to when it comes to your level of musicianship. In some cases throughout the 59 minute ride Carayon’s playing shines through in impressive fashion and shows signs of someone who has clearly done his homework, but while Carayon appears to be fluid enough when it comes to his instrument, it’s the songwriting department that sees him falter and places him smack dab at a level of mediocrity.
Each track has a dark and dreary feel thanks in part to the eerily spooky keyboards that almost play as big a role as the guitars do, but at the end of the day most of the songs just seem to blend in with one another and rarely are there moments that make the ears perk up in a “wow, that was friggin’ cool” kind of way. Simply put, the listening experience is very, very bland. A couple tracks do stand out, however, as "Azur" has some niftily placed legato-styled licks near the 1:26 mark and also sees the melodic phrasings do a fantastic job of taking control of the song, while "Angry God" has some moments that will remind you of the interplay between DT’s Petrucci and Rudess and their more chaotic n’ note-frenzied work. Carayon is a good player and has the ability to solo himself into oblivion, but for the most part the songs just lack direction, focus and purpose, almost as if this recording is just his little playground for him to rip solos over.
Production-wise the drums are shoddily programmed and don’t possess any sense of a live feel whatsoever, and to make matters worse there is no bass guitar to speak of, giving the album a complete lack of low end. There’s not a whole lot of rhythm guitar to be heard, as the keys take on that role for the most part, but when a riff does come along it suffers from a sound that is about as tinny as it gets and truly reminds me of the sound you’d get out of one of those compact portable amps you can hook onto your belt and walk around with. The lead tone is very smooth and liquid-y, however, and is definitely one of the album’s saving graces.
In summary, this album is a mere stepping stone in Carayon’s young career and I’m sure it’s been a learning experience that he’ll never forget, and one he’ll most definitely be able to build upon. But I can’t say enough about the importance of live musicians when it comes to any style of music. Sure, modern technology has come a long, long way and it is certainly possible to program drum patterns that will completely fool most listeners, but nothing will ever take the place of a human behind the kit (not to mention bass guitar is a must, in my humble opinion). With a little bit more attention paid to the songwriting area of his game, and hopefully bringing in some live musicians to offer their input and musical know how, Julien Carayon may be a name you’ll be hearing again in the future. I just find it hard to recommend Lethal Alchemy to folks who favor rockin' instrumental, guitar based music over an album like Satriani’s Surfing With The Alien, which for me is the defining album in this style of music.
Register to post comments.