Livercage – Impaled And Forgotten

This is some ugly fucking music, even by my standards. This is another band that I would characterize as ‘black industrial’; not Aborym or Dødheimsgard or whatever, but in the style of a band like Roadkill Sodomizer, where the heavy metal is eliminated, only leaving the music with both the essence of black metal and industrial in its wake. This is not music based off steady rivethead beats or staggered 32nd note riffing. It’s not very musical at all. The most ‘melodic’ moments are like those at the beginning of ‘Bleeding Beneath The Sky Of Falling Snow’, where the morass of guitar distortion reveals something that is almost half of a normal riff. Masses of vocodered and pitch-shifted vocals flood the soundscape over a clicky and partially inaudible drum machine. Ultra-abrasive sound effects are dropped about almost randomly in only a partial sort of rhythmic context. It’s noisy as hell most of the time, and when it’s not, it’s writhing and minimalistic in a very dark and bizarre way. And yes, maybe I’m simply into this kind of thing, but I like it a lot. It’s pretty fucking sick for what it is, and the fact that most people will hate it just makes me like it more.

Livercage doesn’t really have a style of their own: they have an aesthetic and a general sound, and they plug songs into that format. That’s why you get a track like ‘Through The Sludge’; it’s a drone track, but the crackling, shimmering guitar and quiet, echoing background vocals make it fit perfectly with the rest of the music. It’s also one of the best tracks on here, even though it really IS just six minutes of guitar crackle, distant vocals, and some subtle keyboards. Then you have other things like the pure Roadkill Sodomizer style of ‘Frozen In The Sky’, with its cacophonous vocals and atonal ‘solo’ or whatever term you’d use for that sort of bizarre, midpaced lead. The most ‘normal’ style that the band possesses, though, is the sort of thing you hear on ‘Searching For Your Body’: fairly uptempo, drum machine thumping away strangely in the background with a cloud of hazy not-quite-tremolo riffs perpetually hanging over and changing almost randomly, with vocals right out of The Axis Of Perdition in all their distorted glory reaching from caverns of bass-heavy sound like the monstrosities that Lovecraft never quite got around to writing about. Throw in some weird effects like the sawing sounds a third of the way through ‘Bleeding Beneath The Sky Of Falling Snow’, and you get something almost approximating music.

There’s no real melody. A burst of beautiful clean guitar will never come. The closest thing to that you’ll get is the searchlight lead guitar with that siren quality of Meshuggah’s sinuous leads. Otherwise, it’s all atonal, abstract riffing. But this isn’t music to be appreciated really based on instrumentation, which is admittedly somewhat crude. It IS meant to be appreciated on the level of atmosphere, and that’s something that this release has. It’s modern and very dark; the music is machinelike yet organic and chaotic. Imagine some foray into genetic engineering going horribly wrong ala ‘Alien: Resurrection’ only with unattractive Canadians instead of Sigourney Weaver. Sometimes the band goes into a sort of post-apocalyptic war march like halfway through ‘What The Hell’ which almost has a groove; or at least it would if the slurring, screaming cultist vocals over the top didn’t distract you from the throbbing 4×4 house bass drum pumping away under the rest of the music. It’s not a very fun listen, you see, and it’s meant to be that way. It’d be rather artistic if the band didn’t hate art so very much.

I suppose if there was a nuclear holocaust and I was forced to spend the rest of my life wearing a gas mask in a vault hundreds of miles under the ground, this would be the one album to bring with me. I can’t imagine another album that describes such a scenario as handily. Think of it as Skinny Puppy playing black metal and losing all their social commentary: this is more music about being alone and barely clinging to your last few shreds of sanity than affecting any sort of change. When the sky starts to blacken, I’ll be ducking and covering to the sounds of ‘When Your Mother Dies’. That little collapse of the drums at the end of that track is effectively the silent flash of light before everything you know and love is instantly disintegrated into radioactive ash. Beautiful.

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~ by noktorn on September 18, 2007.

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