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Friendship: Alchemist of Your Destiny

Norway's Friendship (basically the solo project of Fredrik Skalstad) are a curious act. Sounding a bit like Dashboard Confessional if they were writing the soundtrack for a 90's teen movie, this is some catchy, well recorded, and slick pop rock. I'm no stranger to the poppier/more commercial side of rock, and while there's a level of familiarity here as I've already stated, Friendship are a bit of a breath of fresh air compared to what you might hear on the radio. Fredrik's newest release, Alchemist of Your Destiny, sounds like it would be more at home alongside my Symphony X and Blue Oyster Cult albums based on its title alone. Don't let them fool you.

Alchemist of Your Destiny is a poppy rock album with a couple of neatish surprises sprinkled in. The guitars are plentiful, both acoustic and electric and there are plenty of jangly and chimey chords that overlap and lend a sense of atmosphere that don't tend to come in droves in the genre, as it were. What's more, there's some surprisingly heavy bits here as well, particularly "In The Now", which is kind of Muse-like and thumpy with its chugging riffs and searing (by genre standards) vocals. The back half of the album actually is fairly heavy overall, with lots of big distorted guitars and echo-laden vocals. Pretty cool and unexpected after the sugar-coated first half. The lyrics, on the other hand, are largely cliche and reek of rhyming for the sake of it, but I've heard far worse. Skalstad is a fairly capable vocalist, if a bit nondescript.

Alchemist of Your Destiny is a solid rocker of an album, albeit not terribly memorable. It really does conjure up nostalgia of the era I grew up in, and makes me think of some of the more artistic poppy "alternative" rock that was popular back then. I doubt it will blow you away, but it's a fun listen that may surprise you with some of its meatier bits.

1. Memories
2. Seize Your Life
3. Been Longing
4. Into The Wall
5. Love Story
6. Never Forget
7. In The Now
8. Say No
9. Last Goodbye
10. Give Space
11. I Am Breath
12. The Light

Added: April 13th 2023
Reviewer: Brandon Miles
Related Link: More Information
Hits: 917
Language: english

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Friendship: Alchemist of Your Destiny
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2023-04-13 18:04:44
My Score:

If there’s one thing to expect from Apollon Records, it’s the unexpected and yet, even with that in mind, to be greeted by a slick, if heavy in places, pop album from an act on the Norwegian label - better known for prog, art and hard rock - feels like something of a left turn. That, however, is exactly what Alchemist Of Your Destiny is and there’s no doubt that it’s a pretty decent stab at it.

Starting out as a band, Friendship have evolved more into the solo endeavour of Frederik Skalstad and there’s no question that the guy can sing. Reminiscent of a less forced Bono in places, it would appear that he has been on something of an evolution, with previous releases from his band likened to a late 60s fuzz rock juggernaut - something that “In The Now” from this album actually alludes to. Now however, with his long locks from those days shortened and slicked back into a Scott Weiland like ‘do’, most of those bulging riffs have likewise been intentionally smoothed down. In all honesty, that’s a bit of a shame, because both “In The Now” and the more forceful (in places) “Say No” are highlights here, but then in a much more straight ahead pop-rock vein “Been Longing”, “Love Story” and the soaring “Never Forget” are as well.

I don’t often reach for an album that sits quite as neatly into the pop fold as this release does, but with its little bits of rock thrown in, if I did, it might well be Alchemist Of Your Destiny by Friendship.

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