Alkaloid - Liquid Anatomy review

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Band: Alkaloid
Album: Liquid Anatomy
Release date: May 2018

01. Kernel Panic
02. As Decreed By Laws Unwritten
03. Azagthoth
04. Liquid Anatomy
05. In Turmoil's Swirling Reaches
06. Interstellar Boredom
07. Chaos Theory And Practice
08. Rise Of The Cephalopods

Alkaloid is where technical death metal and extreme progressive metal converge: a project concerned not so much with covering as many genres as possible, but with the multitude of textures and techniques that may be applied within a few.

One of the things that impressed me most about The Malkuth Grimoire was the vast pantheon of sounds at Alkaloid's disposal; every song had its own feeling, some new vocal style or instrumental pattern. No two were alike. Here we see why the band may be thrown in with the extreme prog crowd, and why Alkaloid avoids certain pitfalls endemic to tech death. With such variety in the execution, Alkaloid make it difficult to tire of them - and what an invaluable skill given the density of their output. Liquid Anatomy is shorter than The Malkuth Grimoire's 73 minutes, but not by much at 65, and with eight songs all packed to the gills, Alkaloid must be wary of sounding repetitive. Nothing sours a tech death album quite like the attrition caused by endless technicality. The near-20-minute "Rise Of The Cephalopods" lays to rest any lingering suspicions that a group like this might have difficulty crafting an attention-holding piece of music.

The dual-natured "Kernel Panic" opens the album with a fresh-sounding combination of styles that foreshadows the album to come; beginning with a clean and confident melody I could imagine hearing from an arena rock band like Boston, the song soon transitions into the brand of overwhelming death metal worthy of the names Hannes Grossman, Christian Muenzner, Morean, Linus Klausenitzer, and Danny Tunker. The band slides into full-fledged brutality mode without ever breaking stride. In a second, the jangly power pop guitar vanishes into a furious grind of distorted impalement; then, in another instant, the heaviness disappears, leaving only the ethereal keys and guitars. It's almost as if "Carbon Phrases," the previous album's opener, were further separated into constituent parts, refined, and amped up, though I wouldn't blame some listeners for finding the similarity too strong. Therein lies perhaps the one piece of criticism I could level at Alkaloid - while there is a great amount of variety within albums, there is not much variety between albums. That's fine by me when the sound the band has established is so singular and arresting, but I had expected a bit more in the way of exploration from this group on the second outing.

Nonetheless, I can hardly complain when the output is as strong as it is (though I could absolutely use another "C-Value Enigma," please). Even in the case of "As Decreed By Laws Unwritten," which boasts little to classify it as anything but a skilled play at death metal and is likely the least interesting song on the album, the virtuosic treatment from this veteran quintet renders the tune a worthwhile lesson in extremity. "Azagthoth" revisits Blotted Science, but with Lovecraftian deities instead of giant insects (and also more words). Once again, every song contributes something different to the overall sensation of Alkaloid. The production is a smidge better and I think the more compact run time and track list do Alkaloid some favors.

In the back of my mind, I had it set that Alkaloid would be a one-and-done band, so I am extremely pleased to be disproven by Liquid Anatomy. This album suggests that the band is quite comfortable with the sound they found for themselves on The Malkuth Grimoire, but I might peg Liquid Anatomy as the stronger of the two.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 10
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 8


Written on 09.06.2018 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments: 5   Visited by: 102 users
10.06.2018 - 11:48
Almost couldn't agree more.
10.06.2018 - 12:16
I love the album! I expected, that it would go more in techdeath-Obscura metal with their sophomore effort, but the fact, that they would have gone even more in to prog rock, and combine it with DM in the most enjoyable way makes me sooo pleased.
10.06.2018 - 15:36
Season of Mist lucky little devils to have Alkaloid AND Ne Obliviscaris under their umbrella
13.06.2018 - 11:23
For me it's album of the year (for this moment).
20.02.2019 - 14:32
i c deaf people
Extreme Progressive has never been my most favorited genre, but from time to time, I stumble upon something that may take my breath away - and those 4:51 minutes of 'Kernel Panic' already did the job.

Boston? That melody? Maybe, from an theoretical, hypothetical point of view. But am I really the only person spotting obvious Rush influences just about anywhere?
And I can't help it, but here and there, Morean's clean vocals strongly remind me of Sting/The Police.
I've never recognized him sounding that good and diversed and I'd really love to know if he ever recorded anything comparable to this performance, in particular the first two minutes of 'Kernel Panic'. I just own some Dark Fortress albums featuring Morean, but well, clean vocals are scarce there, I'm afraid.

Anyway, this is indeed a great, highly enjoyable and refreshing album. Now and after quite some listens, I'm sure I finally found my personal 'Extreme Progressive' album of the year MSA 2018 was asking for.

For the time being, a strong and confident 8/10.
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