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Exivious - Liminal CD (album) cover

LIMINAL

Exivious

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.83 | 44 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Andy Webb
Forum & Site Admin Group
Admin / Heavy Prog Team
5 stars It's incredible to think what a band can do when not faced with the pretense of filling a genre requirement, a label's wish, or some other setback that can detract from the quality of the music. When a band has the freedom to do as the band wishes without a care for whether the album will make the Billboard list or whether the album will get the band signed by a particular label, the composers can focus on what music makes them happiest and the most satisfied. In many ways, this is the origin of experimentation. Bands take ideas that they like and mashing them with various styles, influences, and sounds. Genres such as Rock in Opposition, krautrock, progressive metal, and other "fusions" of different genres have brought music forward and expanded the listening pallet of the music world. One of these progressions was the evolution of jazz metal. Jazz and metal, two genres most people were diametrically opposites, were fused first by bands such as Cynic, Atheist, and even Death.

In many ways, however, these early jazz metal bands simply took jazz syncopation and the odd 7th, 9th, or 11th chord to add to their compositions which were still very plainly metal, and in many cases death metal. Over time, however, the jazz become more defined, refined, and distinguished in the music. Modern bands such as Panzerballett, Planet X, The Gordian Knot, and Exivious took the jazz sound and slowly filtered in metal elements to a simply gorgeous result. The band Exivious, however, had a unique spin, as they took the fast paced, energetic scale-running sound of Cynic and fused with a clean, refined jazz fusion sound a-la Pat Metheny or even Weather Report. Their self-titled 2009 debut hit the scene with massive force, sending ripples throughout the progressive metal community who immediately begged for more.

It took the band three years to respond, this time with a request for their fans. The band's follow up album would be crowdfunded, putting the new Exivious album in the hands of their fans, hoping that the fans had enough faith in the band to push funding for recording. In a matter of days their goal was reached, and the band's second album, Liminal, was set to be recorded.

Tymon Kruidenier, the lead guitarist, had a single goal for this album: to make the most organic, pure-sounding Exivious album he possibly could. Every sound, instrument, and atmosphere on the album was to be organically produced from a real instrument without a single synth or computer involved, and the entire recording process was to be done live with real amps, mics, and set ups. No PODs, Pro Tools fiddling, or triggered drumming at all were to be seen on the album. In the end, 2013 saw the release of the band's follow up, and all of what Tymon promised was true - Liminal was the band's best offering yet, and is perhaps the most organic sounding metal album I have ever heard.

Of course, calling Exivious a metal band is a bit of a misnomer. The band is really a fusion band with metal elements, and Liminal shows this time and time again. Gorgeously crafted riffs revolve around delicately arranged jazz chords, any chugging that occurs is really only an accent to some form of jazzy arrangement, arpeggio, or solo, and if a drum line ever started to sound "heavy," it was only to develop a crescendo which would eventually break into some gorgeous arrangement of guitar melody. Songs like "Deeply Woven," "Movement," and "One's Glow" show the band's impressive grasp on this dynamic.

If you do need a snapshot of the power of Exivious' compositional ability, look no further than "Deeply Woven." If you'll allow me the excess, for this entire paragraph I will rant about how much I adore this song. This song was one of the singles the band released with the album, along with their more atmospheric "Movement," and I was absolutely hooked when I heard this song. Without sounding awkward, forced, or unnatural, the band effortlessly weaves from delicate arpeggio work to punching riffs to soaring solos and back. While the guitars do absolutely beautiful work here, one of the best treats about this song is the use of saxophone. Exivious can sometimes come off as cold due to their very strong use of meticulously placed guitar lines, but the flawless saxophone part in this song adds a dimension that is rarely heard in this breed of music. The compositional grace, instrumental alacrity, and emotional power evoked by the passionately played wind are impressive. The band, when faced with this new element of their sound, immediately transform into a powerful rhythm section for a jazz combo and fill the saxophone part with a dense chord structure and syncopative rhythm. I admit, even as a stalwart advocate for full- album listening, that I left this song on repeat for a long, long time.

The rest of the album, however, shows no lack of compositional ability, instrumental power, or emotional content. While the boys of Exivious are not in this business to produce tear- jerkers or ballads, a number of times the unadulterated passion in which they treat their music can produce some powerful emotions. And even still, songs such as "Deeply Woven" and the delicate atmospheric piece "Movement" can add an almost sensitive side to this music. At times, the compositions might seem mechanical due to the scale-running, fast chord changes, and machine-like drumming accuracy of Yuma van Eekelen, but there are numerous points on the album when the band stops, takes a breath, and enjoys the feeling of playing music, not just the theory of how to structure chords. Creating atmospheres naturally, weaving soundscapes with melody, and evoking a sense of pride for their music number just a few of the skills these musicians have.

I admit, as a backer of the album from the beginning over a year ago, perhaps I had a vested interest in enjoying this album. But I can guarantee, if you enjoy jazz fusion, a good musicianship, and a little bit of metal, you will fall in love with this album. The production quality of the album is supreme ? the listener feels as though they are right there with the band. Backers received an HD FLAC version of the recordings (an impressive one gigabyte for a single album), and on a high fidelity sound system this only enhanced this experience. The atmosphere the band weaves with their instrumentation brings on an adventure with sound ? their music can bring you places if you let it absorb you. You can tell these musicians absolutely love what they do and they put their entire heart and soul into their music and just by listening, you can feel the passion. This album is easily my favorite of 2013, and I hope it becomes yours. 5 stars.

Andy Webb | 5/5 |

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