Liquorworks

I sit back and think to myself every so often and wonder this: Is the best music in the world always composed when the musicians themselves are hammered? There are cases for the prosecution and the defence here. In favour, the undisputed gravel-driven poetry of Tom Waits’ The Piano Has Been Drinking, even if not woven together inebriated, at the least the piano was. But on the defence, alcohol has ruined careers and even concluded them, bar Hendrix’ infamous demise and recently Sum 41 frontman Derrick Whibley being a few more millilitres away from being in the ground. So where does Liquorworks fit into this puzzle? Aside from the not-so-subtle elbow in the ribs of their namesake, the Finnish duo’s music, while ultimately brilliant, has an aura of being under the influence in that it’s so unpredictable and wild, the results will likely take you aback. Thankfully, it’s in a wonderful way. The two gentlemen from Vimpeli, Finland craft a form of technical, progressive metal that flourishes from the additional twists of stand out instruments including a saxophone, occasional keyboard and even an organ in patches. Think of it as an orchestra conducted by a mental institution and you’d be about there. While their first album Nonsense had more than a few moments of dizzying excellence, 2013’s Muscle Explosion took that bar to the next level. Final track Robotektor takes on the form of an intense metal pursuit, but one that manages to distil some comedic undertones into the madness. Across the four minute running time, arpeggios of keyboard ascend, guitars shred, drums are destroyed and organ casts down judgement, all at incredible pace. The lunacy on show is more than enough to hardened metal militia happy, while those standing from a technical stand point will be blown away. Despite there being only two of them, the illusion of an insanely tight chemistry between a full band makes the mouth water at the prospect of a live performance. Credit where credit is due, Liquorworks are unbelievably good. Tech metal seems to take itself a little too seriously at the best of times, but one sitting with this wacky, creative behemoth of a metal band and happiness can only follow. Best served in a pint glass with a cocktail umbrella. Cheers.

Liquorworks’ most recent efforts, last year’s Cosmos Compost EP and Muscle Explosion can be bought from their Bandcamp page for a reasonable fee, whereas 2011’s Nonsense and Moist Computer EP can downloaded for free from their Soundcloud page. Most respectable music retailers also apply.

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Psilocybe Larvae

You ever get the feeling that you stare at a band name with a completely vacant expression because you have no idea what that means, but you certainly want to know more? I guarantee those without a background in biology will definitely be thinking that right now. The inclusion of larvae implies offspring or spawn of some description and a psilocybe is… actually a mushroom. The genus known to induce hallucinations in fact. So one could assume you’re getting a psychedelic band, but you couldn’t be more dead wrong. This imposing Russian outfit actually apply their trade in progressive death metal, occasionally incorporating classical and symphonic sensibilities into the otherwise vicious musical arrangements. Their career has survived nearly 20 years, four albums and countless line-up changes, but their free-flowing approach to a genre famed for its savagery is refreshing on a quickly stagnating scene. Although labelling themselves as a manic-depressive band is kinda deceptive, their execution in reality is far more uplifting. The music of Psilocybe Larvae does have some bleak overtones for sure, but the addition of keyboard and what almost sounds like a string section elevates the already stellar schizoid nature of the death metal towering above, into a grander, more engrossing listening experience. The most recent effort from the band, 2012’s The Labyrinth of Penumbra showcases guttural growls and soaring clean vocals running in parallel, guiding you through a perilous yet enchanting journey through this darkened world they lay forth before you. Opening track Soul Trekking leads you in with gentle warps of keyboard and the sorrow-tinged plucking of guitar, before building with cavernous bass and the ominous pounding of drums, to the lift of the curtain and the grizzled voice of authority. Clutching you in their grip, the band then walk you into an empowered metal display, filled with ferocious double-kicks, sharp guitar marksmanship and regal sounding atmospherics. The bridge however with just the chugging of bass, an enlightening keyboard melody and the hushed voice of a sinister presence is undoubtedly a highlight of this evolving, affecting landscape.¬†Psilocybe Larvae is a fascinating death metal specimen, akin to the realms that fans of Septicflesh currently tread, one that deserves further attention and a larger awareness. Their talent for orchestrating a progressive nightmare with an unchained sense of sorrow and despair, but can remain an engaging listen and excite in equal stead is unbeatable, and they deserve that step up onto a higher climate of exposure.

The Labyrinth of Penumbra and 2009’s Non-Existence can found on their Bandcamp page, although oddly not for sale. You can find these two albums however on most respectable music retailers and buy merchandise from their website. How to obtain their previous two albums nowadays I’m unsure of. Also they are currently looking for a new drummer, so go hit them up if you fancy being in a killer death metal band.

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Sleepstream

How do you imagine what your dreams sound like? Or even stop to consider what they could sound like? The sheer insanity of mine at times compliment the eclecticism of my whole diverse musical taste, ranging from wandering around car parks, to being chasing by giant talking fish, to free-running around a shipyard made entirely of Lego, to being haunted by a list of the 100 creepiest Japanese girls in horror films… You get the idea, it’s pretty bizarre. However the idea of sleeping or settling to sleep is supposedly one of the most calming moods known to mankind, and as such, pictures a feeling of relaxation and contentment in body and mind before rest. Supreme relaxation in sound courtesy of Greek post rock outfit Sleepstream however takes this initial sentiment and heightens it with grandiose delivery. Specialising in orchestral-blanketed guitar journeys that unravel gradually from softer lullabies with a pinch of sorrow, to extended tremolos against a huge backdrop of sound, that capture the idea of freefall or floating superbly. A lot of post rock may transport you to another dimension entirely, but none will be as moving as the addition of strings to the core formula, of which the results sound far more human than many bands that have tried. Opening track of 2011’s A Waltz With The Seventh Crane, the melancholy titled You Gave Me Butterflies, I Gave You Loss, plays on the joy emanating from a person in the five minute tale, characterised by acoustic strokes, then combining it with the downcast nature of the other, brought to life by the introduction of the electric guitar and the largely more prominent violin and cello. Listening in on this embrace between star-crossed lovers, grants a sense of audience privilege and could almost invoke guilt at knowing these personifications of sound, are not fated to be. An absolute stroke of genius. Many groups can tell a tale, with or without words, only some of them can muster your emotional investment, but Sleepstream are a selective few that can make you feel the story unfolding and the drama touch the inner fibres of your being. The soundtrack of your dreams? Perhaps, but most certainly it is a cinematic landscape with such radiant beauty, it will stun but enthral you every inch of the way.

A Waltz With The Seventh Crane and last year’s They Flew In Censored Skies can be purchased from Sleepstream’s¬†Bandcamp page for a reasonable sum, via Fluttery Records or from most respectable music retailers.

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