Album review: CLIVE NOLAN – Alchemy




Metal Mind Productions

Clive Nolan (Arena/Pendragon) returns with another musical delight, following on from the well received ‘She’. Clive again returns to the Victorian era as the tale is set in 1842 and is full of mystery, daring do and like any good musical a love interest.

The cast is again of a high standard featuring Tracy Hitchings (Landmarq/Strangers on a Train), Andy Sears (Twelfth Night), Paul Manzi (Arena), Damian Wilson (Threshold), Paul Menel (ex-IQ), David Clifford (Red Jasper) and Agnieszka Świta, who was the leading lady in ‘She’. The main cast are joined by the supporting cast of ‘She – the Musical’ – Victoria Bolley, Chris Lewis and Soheila Clifford. Singer Noel Calcaterra also features and she appeared in the South American ‘Otra Vida’ project from 2010. The cast is backed by the musicians Clive Nolan (keyboards), Mark Westwood (guitars), Scott Higham (drums), Claudio Momberg (keyboards) and Kylan Amos (bass) .

Spread over two discs the story unfolds nicely and the production is like listening to a West End musical score (the opening ‘Prologue’ I thought was going to morph into ‘Phantom of the Opera’ at one point). Perhaps the only difference is the lack of a big blockbuster number that Mr Lloyd-Webber is so good at. That said listen to ‘The Warning’ and the wonderful use of call and response vocals and the listener sits there in awe. I personally love the way that two singers play off each other and the proper choral arrangements, none of that Ikea-like self-assembly choral tat used by some metal acts. This song reminded me of the mighty ‘Les Miserables’ and it is the song of the album for me. The closing son ‘Aftermath’ has it all, swirling strings and orchestral pomp, passionate vocal deliveries; you can picture the cast on a stage in your mind’s eye.

The storyline is great fun with a nefarious villain in the shape of Lord Ragman, sung and played by Andy Sears (get this man on a West End stage or panto, he has the perfect villain’s style and swagger). The other show stopper is Agnieszka Świta in the role of Amelia. She has a wonderfully powerful and melodic vocal. Not to miss out on the fun Clive Nolan plays the part of Professor King.

A wonderful album and not just for fans of progressive rock/Arena/Pendragon, but more importantly given its musical nature it has the chance to get a far wider appeal. It can only be a matter of time before this or ‘She’ gets a much bigger stage production they both deserve. Simple really, go and buy this album so Mr Nolan can make another one :)

****1/2 (it is a five star album but Mr Nolan needs something to aim for)

Jason Ritchie

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