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Liquid Wolf - Second Wind Part 1 CD (album) cover


Liquid Wolf

Heavy Prog

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4 stars My initial reception for the 2012 debut album of this Finnish group was very positive; the instrumenally oriented music didn't even sound so much of HEAVY prog to me, who am mostly an anti-heavy music listener. This time around the heavy aspect is slightly more obvious. First, the guitars are often more metallic than before (not radically though), and there seems to be more depressive-sounding vocals (of Teijo Tikkanen, also known from Corey & Maple). The musical project led by composer and guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Sami Sarhamaa (e.g. KATAYA, KUDOS) was said to be primarily inspired by OPETH, but it expanded beyond that influence, and also other kinds of prog were mentioned as references, such as Camel and Kaipa if I remember right. But I guess it's safe to compare this music to Opeth and other similar bands taking progressive steps further away from their metal roots -- as with Opeth's later phaces, there are no growls here, thank God! But yes, the moods are similarily dark and deeply melancholic.

Perhaps to me the least pleasant ingredient, and the one that gives the music its distinctive heavy flavour, is the low-toned and somewhat depressed singing style that underlines dark emotions more than would be necessary. I get no big pleasure out of the heaviest and less complex tracks such as 'Toenails'. What I do enjoy is the way the intrumental sections have more variety, both in dynamics and in instrumentation. For example the opener features elegant marimba, and on 'Pale Rider' there are vibes on the intro. The lively piano heard later on that very dynamic track brings some classical/jazzy nuances.

The longest of the seven tracks is 'Every Mistake' (8:12) that starts delicately with a clock ticking and an acoustic guitar. The excellently produced soundscape features also some mellotron-sounds, and the dynamic growth from mellow, instrumental section (featuring piano) into more intense prog and into the sax/marimba dialogue in the end is very impressive. The six-piece combo features the renowned jazz musician Pepa Päivinen on saxes, flutes and bass-clarinet. On drums is the legendary Sami Kuoppamäki (who rised into fame in Kingston Wall).

'The Utopist' is a rhythmically complex instrumental with gorgeous musicanship, stylistically between RUSH, MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA and the galaxy-exploding symphonic prog. The album closer 'Spit It Out' starts in a serene and peaceful mood and grows into powerful, instrumentally oriented prog rock with mighty solos and all. Indeed I'm happy to notice that the more closely I listen to this album, the better it comes, or in other words, the more highlights I hear. I strongly recommend this fine album especially to listeners of melancholic [heavy] prog who appreciate cultivated arrangements and high musical competence.

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Posted Thursday, December 8, 2016 | Review Permalink

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