June 11, 2018 Dead Girls Academy – Alchemy (Album Review)
World Goth Day was back in May, but if any of you boys and ghouls wish to continue celebrating, Dead Girls Academy have got you covered with Alchemy, which arrives Friday, June 15, 2018, thanks to Victory Records.
Los Angelino Michael Orlando knows a little something about life and death. As Vocalist for the band Vampires Everywhere!, Orlando (aka Michael Vampire) toured relentlessly, plugged away at his craft, honed his skills, and released three full-length albums – 2011’s Kiss the Sun Goodbye, 2012’s Hellbound and Heartless, and 2016’s Ritual. He would also forge a new band, The Killing Lights, who would release a self-titled EP in 2014.
All of this, however, was impacted when, in the midst of his career, Orlando was victim of a tragic twist of fate, a car accident that would result in three grueling years of reconstructive surgeries and rehabilitation. This placed his tour-heavy schedule into limbo, but with the support of his best friend, Ronnie Radke (Falling In Reverse), he continued to dream and recovered with the hope of one day rocking again.
Thus, Dead Girls Academy was born. Bringing this dream to fruition is Alchemy, the 11-track debut. Working with friends and collaborators Tyler Smyth (dangerkids) and Producer Elvis Baskette (Slash, Sevendust), Orlando wove together a collection of songs that reflect heavily on the life of a man entrenched in his music, living for a second chance at the dream, all with his characteristic darkness that will have shriveled little Goth hearts appreciating every catchy beat. There might not be any vampires here, but there is certainly the leather-clad spirit that Lost Boys (and girls) everywhere can appreciate!
Alchemy opens onto the 1980’s Sunset Strip teasing Radke-era Escape the Fate on the catchy, unapologetic “Medicine,” with its steady drum beat, rocking guitars, and one hair-flailing guitar solo. Multiple layers fuse together to create the choking tale of a vengeful break-up on “Forever,” where deep bass-lines weave around Orlando’s gritty vocals. The end result is another catchy offering that, sure, is not exactly rocket science, but is certainly some good Rock-n-Roll.
They usher in some gentle electronic effects for rocker-stomper and second single/video “No Way Out,” a revolving door relationship with women or, mayhaps, fickle, interchangeable band-members. Then, Orlando taps into his inner Davey Havok on the power ballad-esque “I Can’t Feel a Thing,” a dip into Emo territory with gentle atmospheric sonics and a personal confession of drowning in the numb.
Sludgy rocker “Everything” (“staring down the scope of a loaded pen”) asks listeners to take a look in the mirror and be honest – have you sold your soul and abandoned your integrity? Next, “Too Late” utilizes the days of the week to create a catchy sing-along set to a steady beat and some chugging guitars. The obvious choice for first single/video, the catchy “I’ll Find a Way” possesses one truly delicious, bass-heavy bridge that is Sludge-tastic.
The synths that create the backbone of “Conversations” are completely 1980s Goth (think Gerard McMann’s “Cry Little Sister”), creating a dark, atmospheric journey of soaring self-awareness. Meanwhile, there is a powerful, though largely generic, sound on the down-tempo rocker “Devil on My Shoulder” before Orlando goes gritty sensuality on the verses of infectious rocker “Cannibal.” Ultimately, “Far Away” is the epic, atmospheric number that pulls together everything previous to author an impactful closer that sounds like Falling In Reverse’s “Coming Home” with dashes of Escape the Fate’s “Something.” Darling, Dead Girls Academy are coming home!
There is more melody here than Orlando touched on with Vampires Everywhere!, but the dark, gently-Gothic-tinged ethic remains the same. Ultimately, that makes Alchemy kind of like the modern “Undead Heart,” amped up into something catchier and more heavily Rock, or simply a continuation of “Truth In You.” Established fans will likely continue to worship at Orlando’s black altar, while new converts are sure to come along for the ride, as well.
Truthfully, as a collection, Alchemy has stand-out moments (“Forever,” “Conversations”), generic filler (“Too Late,” “Devil on My Shoulder”), and a lot of in-between. Nothing ever feels fully fresh or entirely earth-shattering – in fact, this sounds like bottled Warped Tour, circa 2005-2007 – but Dead Girls Academy are certainly catchy and that will bring them fans. Thus, Alchemy is a solid debut that places the band onto the musical map, accompanied by high hopes for a bright future. Knowing that Orlando is determined and certainly has the chutzpah to succeed, it is almost certain that Dead Girls Academy is a name that will be around for quite some time. For these reasons, CrypticRock give Dead Girls Academy’s Alchemy 3.5 of 5 stars.