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Exivious - "Liminal" (CD)

Exivious - "Liminal" CD cover image

"Liminal" track listing:

1. Entrust
2. One's Glow
3. Alphaform
4. Deeply Woven
5. Triguna
6. Movement
7. Open
8. Immanent

Reviewed by on December 4, 2013

"Featuring members who have been involved with Cynic, Dodecahedron, and Pestilence, the band is as technical and proficient as its pedigree would indicate."

Instrumental fans who love the fusion of jazz and metal now have another offering in this rare genre to salivate over: “Liminal” by Dutch act Exivious. Featuring members who have been involved with Cynic, Dodecahedron, and Pestilence, the band is as technical and proficient as its pedigree would indicate. These guys know how to work non-traditional metal sounds and take their progressive blend of styles to the next level.

While “Liminal” is unquestionably a metal album, it’s definitely not an extreme metal album. Even without vocals, it’s still entirely possible to create brutality or an extreme atmosphere through riffs and beats alone, but that’s not the direction Exivious goes here. Instead, the album is an extended experiment that blurs the lines of where metal begins and ends, taking the audience on a journey floating along through proggy dreamscapes.

Considering the emphasis on jazz and prog, it should come as no surprise that the bass lines are frequently the disc’s main feature. It’s not the only star of the show, however, as there are some interesting things done sans-singing. For instance, in a move usually reserved for vocals, the band shakes things up by having the drum beats filter in and out across the right and left side speakers.

While the instrumentation is top-notch, there is a problem here in that much of the album sounds overly similar. It’s an issue that doesn’t have to occur in instrumental music (take Odyssey for instance – the Spokane band’s music is incredibly diverse even without vocals), but Exivious falls prey to it across these eight tracks. That being said, there are distinguishing features to be found and it’s not a killing level of repetition. “Deeply Woven” takes a different approach from the surround songs and even brings in some sax, while “Triguna” has a bombastic, off-the-wall style that brings to mind Mr. Bungle. Ending track “Immanent” is also a curious venture, plucking the strings in rhythmic and speedy patterns to lull in a listener.

Although the album could use more variety, and perhaps a bit more of a heavy edge, “Liminal” is still a solid release for fans of To-Mera, Suspyre, or instrumental bands like Evan Brewer, Odyssey, or Abnormal Thought Patterns.

Highs: Fantastic instrumentation and a great fusion of jazz and metal.

Lows: The album doesn't have enough distinguishing features between the songs.

Bottom line: Former members of extreme and avant-garde acts band together for an instrumental excursion that blends metal and jazz.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)