rating icon 6 / 10

Track listing:

01. Medicine
02. Forever
03. No Way Out
04. I Can't Feel a Thing
05. Everything
06. Too Late
07. I'll Find a Way
08. Conversations
09. Devil on My Shoulder
10. Cannibal
11. Far Away

From the ashes of VAMPIRES EVERYWHERE!Michael "Vampire" Orlando initiated DEAD GIRLS ACADEMY. The latter is a goth-punk-emo-rock act, started with Ronnie Radke of FALLING IN REVERSE. Tyler Smyth and everywhere man producer Michael"Elvis"Baskette were summoned to help arrange and write DEAD GIRLS ACADEMY's debut album, "Alchemy".

Following a bus accident on tour a few years ago, Orlando was reported to have died briefly and was resuscitated. Through reconstructive surgery and rehab, he slowly worked his way back to the Sunset Strip region he reflects upon in his music. Orlando will tell you about toxic relationships, one ending in his being dumped on Valentine's Day with nothing left but a chair inside of an empty apartment.

Suffice it to say, that's a lot of adversity from which to draw in song, suggesting that "Alchemy" has anger and pain on its side. Yes, those are part and parcel to these songs which throw accusatory beacons upon debauched Los Angeles along with fakes, posers and backstabbers. The problem is, this album putters and recycles more than it generates heat. While Michael Orlando remains a confident, broad-ranged vocalist, the guitar solos are the best thing going for "Alchemy".

The straight-driving "Medicine" is crammed full of layered vocal dubs set to tinny choruses and an all-too-familiar three chord harmony. "Forever" flags psychosexual deviance with the disconcerting lyric "...put your hands around my throat, because right now I wanna feel this pain forever.” These songs have beats and they have angst, but no real steam.

The lagging pace of "I Can't Feel a Thing" at least gives Michael Orlando the proper vehicle to drag out his trials; with what he went through, we'll grant him the time he needs here to make his point. "Everything" attempts to stiffen up with its cock strutting verses, but, by this time, the prevalent three chord stuck mojo grows stale.

Finally, a good thump to brag about with "Too Late", a standard rocker lifted by its whirring synths. Unfortunately, once "I'll Find a Way" arrives, the few tricks employed by DEAD GIRLS ACADEMY have grown old hat, inclusive of isolated drum leads and banal arrangements.

We want to give Michael Orlando a rousing man-up award for fighting his way back to health and, more importantly, to the life he'd nearly been forced to leave behind. Unfortunately, "Alchemy" takes too long to generate a spark, and by the time it does, the songs are so wound through the same spin cycles that it's hard to appreciate beyond extending the guy well-deserved congratulations.

Author: Ray Van Horn, Jr.
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