With space being one of the key themes weaving through Kasabian’s seventh studio album, ‘The Alchemist’s Euphoria’, it comes as no surprise that this experimental body of work has taken the Leicestershire quartet into a new stratosphere sonically, personally and thematically.
‘The Alchemist’s Euphoria’ heralds a new era for the rock band after the departure of frontman Tom Meighan. It was a case of ‘do or die’ for the group. After some reflection and indeed some transmutation, Kasabian are back! There’s a new role for Serge Pizzorno who has picked up the mantle of lead. Evolving from chief songwriter to the frontman of one of the UK’s biggest rock bands was no easy task, but Pizzorno achieves this with flair. Having written all 12 tracks (co-produced alongside Fraser T. Smith), Pizzorno wanted this album to push against the barometers of convention and to pivot past stories about the band’s contentious history.
‘The Alchemist’s Euphoria’ does what it says on the tin. It’s an unadulterated celebration of creation and encourages the listener to reflect on how all of us are our own alchemists in life, how we need to cherish and enjoy the journey that takes us there. The first sound you hear on the first track of the album is the sound of waves lapping against the shore. There’s always a calm before a storm and the storm is in the shape of ‘SCRIPTVRE’ – a thunderous track about reinvention and the importance of rewriting your story, augmented by dusky cinematic hues.
This 12-track record focuses on the journey of the alchemist and how it only takes a glimmer of divine inspiration to create something special. Through the singles ‘ALYGATOR’, ‘SCRIPTVRE’ ‘THE WALL’ and ‘CHEMICALS’, Kasabian artfully fuse textures, tones and tempos. They’re at their genre-bending best combining rock, rave, rap, synth, psychedelia and more. There’s magic, mayhem, and even some Middle Eastern riffs that captivate in intriguing and idiosyncratic ways.
Taking inspiration from a wide-ranging selection of artists which includes the likes of early Pink Floyd and Kendrick Lamar, this is music that’s been created with the stage in mind. Pizzorno even took inspiration from the tempos experienced in the mosh pit at Kendrick Lamar and Travis Scott gigs for the captivating track ‘STRICTLY OLD SKOOL’.
It’s fair to say that this album is bombastic by design, an impressive combination of emotional resonance and brash, raucous beats. A standout example of this is the swaggering ‘ALYGATYR’, a snappy, defiant affair with a ‘never say die’ vibe. A trio of cosmic tracks – ‘THE WALL’, ‘T.U.E’ (The Ultra View) and ‘STARGAZR’ – which were inspired by an astronaut’s view of the world from space and the change in perception – transmit feelings of hope, possibility and self-reflection, something Kasabian know only too well.
‘The Alchemist’s Euphoria’ is arguably one of the most daring, cohesive bodies of work that Kasabian have rendered to date; it demonstrates that when it comes to evolving, all it takes is courage, innovation and a dose of pure alchemy.
Words: Emma Harrison