OK. I took this promo on in an idealistic attempt to widen the concept of this site, from a focus on what we arbitrarily consider appropriate, to a full survey of every band that consider themselves “avant-garde” in a metal sense. Of course, I had forgotten about the year and a half of debate prior to this choice, constantly reaching the agreement that we just can’t take on every band because they feel themselves “avant-garde”. And when I came to my senses, I sat there with this first four-track demo of LIQUID GRAVEYARD, having not a clue as to how they sound. Lesson learnt: always defeat naive idealism with crass selfishness before making decisions. Always.
Anyway, there I was with LG’s “Criministers” in hand. “Progressive Avantgarde Death Metal” continuing the path of now deceased CANCER (grim puns abound) – a supposedly legendary British Death Metal band I’ve never really listened to; guitarist and bandleader John Walker is the link between the two bands. The bassist, Adrian De Buitlear, is from MOURNING BELOVETH by the way, if anyone cares about LG’s inaudible links to Irish doom metal. So I wanted to like this band. I don’t want to give it a bad review. But since I can only compel myself to listening to it out of the necessity of the writing of this review… yeah, I suppose that’s the main comment I have on “Criministers”: I don’t really feel like listening to it. Sorry.
But let’s give it a try, it’s really not that bad, actually. The four tracks consist of some sort of upbeat, almost rock-like metal, the heavy sound and occasional growls and grind sections revealing the band’s true origin and field. The guitars (of the aforementioned legendary British Death Metal band CANCER’s frontman John Walker) are diverse and the element the closest to progressivity one can find on this EP; rhythmically shifting, very groove-based, with clean and distorted arpeggio chord sequences are more often than not inspired and interesting. The clean, semi-Oriental, near-grunge/alternative rock in the intros of Anthead Grotesque and Their Words Grow Thin are superb, moving within yet beyond the scope of mid-90’s Voivodesque playfulness and atmosphere; surprisingly catchy, many sections keep reappearing in my head without listening to it for weeks. Focus on these parts, and nice-sounding pieces of shit will hit the fans.
But then, why so glum and negative? This all sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it? Yeah, sure. But let’s look at what it is that makes me whine. Being a demo without label support, you can’t really blame LG for the poor sound. But seriously, the kick drum trig (completely unnecessary, by the way, just raise the damn volume for the acoustic sound) is one of the ugliest and most annoying kick sounds I’ve ever heard. It sounds like “fluddakludd”. And that means ugly in every language. But never mind, most bands fail with trigging. The overall sound is pretty fuzzy and gives me a headache, but again – never mind the sound. The songs, despite the interesting sections elements described above, lack the power to grab my attention. More work on composition the next time. And definitely more work on the vocals. Raquel Walker (I suppose some relation to John), who I think is responsible for all voices, wants more than is possible. The more laid-back, atmospheric singing works well, but when more power is charged – which is most of the time – it just fails. Lack of confidence in the own voice? Laryngeal issues in the studio? Lack of ability? Either way, it just sounds… bad. Effete and weak, made even worse by the distance in the mix. She hits the right tones, but not much more than that. More works needs to be done on the vocals until next release. For LG’s own sake. Then on the other hand, the less traditional voices – shouts, growls, even theatrical taunts – are excellent, adding much needed variation all too seldom to the over-all rather uninspired albeit catchy work that is Criministers.
There are hints spread out over these 20 minutes of elements of truly interesting metal, but they are as of yet too much spread out. On the other hand, this is a first demo (from established musicians, though) – greater things might be at hand, but at the moment it ain’t Progressive nor Avant-garde. I quote Tim Gunn: make it work!
Release: late 2008
Avantgenre: Too Little Of Everything Metal
Duration: Approx. 20min
Origin: British Isles / Spain
Official site: http://www.myspace.com/liquidgraveyard
Review online since: 25.02.2009 / 10:33:27
2. Anthead Grotesque
4. Their Words Grow Thin