(TheMadIsraeli wrote this review of the debut album by the Norwegian/Polish band Liverum.)
Gojira has disappointed me as of late. Sure, I reviewed L’Enfant Sauvage with enthusiasm at the time, but there were a few conditions my enthusiasm was contingent upon. A: the assumption that the album was a one-off that was not a sign of things to come; B: the hope that the blatantly more commercial elements and attempts to be softer that they’d been teasing at since The Way Of All Flesh were just a phase; and C: the wish that the next album wouldn’t dial back the very essence of this band even further.
While co-writers of mine enjoyed Magma I thought it was nothing short of blasphemy to the Gojira name. Since then, I’ve looked for bands that channeled Gojira, not in precisely literal musical terms but at least in spirit, for sure.
A few elements, in identifiable sound and vibe, are the kinds of things I’ve looked for: A: the spiritualist/naturalist sense of presence, the earthen character; B: the propulsive, monolithic, HUGE grooves; C: a talent for combining those two previous ingredients with melodies and riffs that can be ridden forever as a drone that can crush you under its sonic weight.
Liverum not only meet the requirements, they channel a lot of the best aspects of groove-driven heavy music that tend to hook me. Take Gojira, Chaos A.D.-era Sepultura, and the spirit of NYHC, and that’s a pretty good summary of the Liverum sound. There might arguably be some melodic death metal in there, too, I’ll let you decide that.
Discover Your Land is an impressively strong debut, showcasing a band displaying immense maturity out of the gate, with a sound that is mammoth-sized hypnotic groove and melancholic melody incarnate. The Gojira comparisons listeners will make at first listen will dissipate once people absorb this band’s slow-burn sense of crushing heaviness.
It’s a meaningfully different approach, almost tribal in its nature. I’d say it definitely has that spiritual, earthen vibe Gojira pioneered, but they definitely dial it way up in comparison to Gojira. Just the first song “Natural Elements” with its triplet-driven war march makes this clear. There’s a breakdown in the middle of the song that’s almost meditative while being destructive. This is a paradox that consistently rears its head in Liverum’s music.
Liverum’s song-writing ethic is one I respect: Write as few riffs or sections as possible but maximize them for maximum impact. This is a big contributing factor to the hypnotic effect of their music. The band has an astounding command of minimalism. The music isn’t complicated, but it’s distinctly memorable for melodic and rhythmic reasons.
I usually prefer more technical/complicated metal, and I find more minimalist approaches hard to do. These guys have a master’s touch when it comes to that. The seven-minute long “Glacier” has maybe three sections to it total? Yet it’s a compelling song, It’s one of the best on the album. The primary riff with the contrast of one guitar played in palm-muted triplets versus the other guitar playing it in open notes creates a sonic depth that makes it compelling to listen to on a loop.
Songs more devoted to melancholic melodies and open, airy melodic dirges are also a thing this band does really well. “Willingness”, “After Our Time”, and “Meadow” all display this talent very well. Heavier or darker songs such as “Discover Your Land” or “Courageous Hearts” have more of an emphasis on shadowed melody and oppressive weight.
While Liverum’s FB page doesn’t list who does what, I also want to give massive praise for whoever the vocalist is. His violent death metal grunts punctuated by open yelling that’s very in the tradition of more raw NYHC is an exceptional combo and his tonality blends into the music superbly.
Discover Your Land is one of the most impressive debuts I’ve encountered in 2017, and I think it’s definitely a must-hear. I’ll be listening to this a lot this year, that’s for sure. I’ve needed metal like this for a good while.
Definitely a stand out. I’ve posted select choices below, but these are from their YouTube channel which has the entire album uploaded to it.
Discover Your Land was released on June 17, and was recorded at Hertz Studio (Behemoth, Decapitated) in Poland.
For a full album stream, go HERE.