Album Review: ALKALOID Liquid Anatomy
I find it fascinating that the styles of certain musicians can vary to such depths depending on what other artists they are joined by. Alkaloid being a solid example of a project that shows great variation and true originality considering the band members have previously been active in or are currently present in acts such as Obscura, Blotted Science, Necrophagist, Eternity's End, Spawn of Possession, Aborted, and Dark Fortress. While Alkaloid does possess similar heavy and progressive elements to the aforementioned groups, their approach is undeniably stylistically different and sets them apart in a most impressive manner.
Frontman Morean, guitarists Danny Tunker and Christian Munzner, bassist Linus Klausenitzer, and drummer Hannes Grossman combined forces back in 2014 and set a high standard with their debut LP, The Malkuth Grimoire, but I truly believe they surpassed their previous excellence on Liquid Anatomy. Although their last record was a triumphant work of experimental and extreme progressive metal, the amount of maturation of this latest album is vast for a myriad of reasons.
One aspect about Alkaloid is certain; they wear their influences on their sleeve very blatantly. And to be clear, I don't mean that in a negative way at all. While listening to each song, I could visualize which bands were tossed into the blender and churned out into these immaculate compositions. Over the hour of audial bliss that the band presents, they manage to bridge the gap between traditional prog and the genre's more extreme and modern form. On the opening track, "Kernel Panic," I sense late 70's or 80's vibes alike Yes or Genesis was harnessed before bursting into classic Opeth chaos. While there was a contrast created between the fun, bouncy prog parts and the more death metal driven moments, everything felt naturally cohesive.
Further influences included a salute to Gojira during "As Decreed By Laws Unwritten," elements of Tool and Cynic surface on "In Turmoil's Swirling Reaches," and Porcupine Tree whimsicalities within the title track. Of course, the sounds of related groups like Obscura are present, yet the focus for this material is on stylistically variety and dynamics rather than heaviness and technical prowess.
Inspiration from other progressive metal acts aside, Alkaloid finds a middle ground in creating their own unique identity. Their use of eastern music fusion shows on "Azagthoth" and "Rise of the Cephalopods." I would've loved to see this characteristic expanded even larger, but its inclusion alone created a subtle and inspiring expansion of their musical palette. Additionally, the frequent and tasteful use of clean guitar tones was exceptionally significant in the flow of this record. The album's closer is perhaps the best example of Alkaloid's identity. Just eighteen seconds shy of hitting the twenty-minute mark, "Rise of the Cephalopods" is an epic musical display of subdued build-ups, groovy death metal, proggy riffage, and a delicate outro to conclude the album.
Each performer in this project is their own individual powerhouse, however, I must highlight the diversity in Morean's vocal delivery. He has the ability to sing cleans in a very light and satisfying manner, while also transitioning to hellish growls with ease. Most songs on here display such duality, but I'd look to "Interstellar Boredom" and "Chaos Theory and Practice" for proof of this talent.
I fear that Alkaloid will be overlooked considering many people may see this as a side-project living in the shadow of the member’s larger and more well-known bands. And although in terms of popularity, Alkaloid sure does have a lot of catching up to do, I honestly believe the musicianship and creativity reach far beyond these artists' past work. Liquid Anatomy is so quirky and extreme, it's impossible not to be addicted to these compositions and their unpredictability. I whole-heartedly hope that this phenomenal juggernaut of a record reaches the masses in heaps because this band deserves one hell of a praise for this monstrous LP.