Livercage – Pick Up That Axe And Cut Them Down!

You could never accuse Livercage of failing to change their style. This is the third Livercage album I’ve heard, which marks the same number of styles I’ve heard the band perform. From the horrific, malignant, sludgy, noisy black… stuff of ‘Impaled And Forgotten’, to the more folk influenced and vaguely conventional ‘Strung Up And Left To Rot’, and now to this breed of aggressive black metal/dark ambient, Livercage never fails to keep you guessing, and, more often than not, be really good at whatever path they choose to take with their music. A few factors are constant: the noisiness and industrial influence, the strange song structures and awkward riffing, the distorted vocals, etc., but the aim of each release is able to change so dramatically that the band continues to be exciting with every new album they put out.

The material here is perhaps the most orderly of Livercage’s music so far. It is roughly split into two styles: rough, aggressive, dark black metal on one side, and haunting dark ambient/drone on the other. The former set includes some of the most brutal and straightforward material the band has ever turned out, with blasting and double bass aplenty under thick, heavy tremolo riffs and distorted vocals. There are still some midpaced passages like one the previous couple LPs, but by far the emphasis is on a much faster, more grinding style of music. The other half of the album is composed of sparse, keyboard-driven drone/ambient compositions which actually work well in the traditional Livercage style of album construction (numerous tracks of wildly varying lengths and styles) and help break up the brutality presented by the ‘real’ tracks. Production shifts track-by-track through from basement four-track to studio quality recordings, giving an even more off-kilter sense to the proceedings.

This is perhaps Livercage’s most ‘metal’ release of the three I’ve heard, with a much more direct sense of intensity and direction, as opposed to the mainly experimental style of ‘Impaled And Forgotten’ and ‘Strung Up And Left To Rot’. As far as mood and texture goes, this is closer to the former than the latter, but without the guttural, nihilistic sludginess that made that album so unique. Instead we have Livercage’s more conventional take on industrialized black metal, with somewhat more palatable riffs, straightforward, fast rhythms, and the same swirling chaos which has always defined their sound. A track like ‘Fragmented Mind Collector (Frozen Foot On The Tundra Surface)’ points to a newer, more conventional, and oddly terrifying new direction for the band. Some of the tracks on this album, such as that one, are up there with The Axis Of Perdition as far as chaos and brutality in black metal goes; they’re approaching the Internal Suffering of industrialized black metal, and I only hope that they continue to get more extreme with time.

The strange lack of attention that Livercage receives really surprises me. Part of it is logical; rows of enormous full-length albums (three this year alone) don’t often say much for quality, implying that there must be some level of filler or a lack of a removal process for the weaker songs. And yet Livercage is, in these unknown albums, putting out very solid and dark music that many people would be advised to investigate. I have a feeling that this new, more straightforward direction for the band might bring new fans into the Livercage fold. Or, at least, I hope so: they’re a band that deserves much more attention than they’re currently getting.

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~ by noktorn on December 22, 2007.

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