Liquid Signal has more going on stylistically than a mere doom metal label would suggest. You’ll hear the odd traditional doom groove pop up here and there, but the group’s full-length, Neuronicae debut spends more time caught between the atmospheric melancholy of Warning or Pallbearer and the sludgy battering of a High on Fire. There’s also a noticeable air of prog influence throughout as songs are intricately structured and non-conventional time signatures are utilized without lapsing into all-out wankery.
The musicianship is well suited for the styles at hand, opting for a fuzzy overcast throughout but always staying flexible. The drums feel somewhat distant in the mix, but they still make for a great source of power thanks to the hard hits and aggressively busy patterns. The vocal performance is also quite strong; it’s all too common to see Cobain-esque takes like this get drowned out in their mixes or offer otherwise unengaging lines, but the delivery here gets surprisingly venomous at times.
And with ten songs totaling to an hour runtime, the album’s variety isn’t too surprising. The three songs here that had appeared on their 2016 EP have cleaned up nicely; “Black Masses” opens with a sample that makes its opening series of riffs even more impactful while “Lords of Smoke” takes on its dreamier character. “Rush Limbaugh” is also an eternal standout thanks to its agonizingly distraught yet catchy vocal lines.
The new songs sure don’t slouch either. It’s fun to see the Windhand-style grooves on the nine-minute “Bloodline Strata” get more unhinged at the halfway point and the vocal lines and buildup on the closing “Cytherean Breaks” is especially impressive. There may even be a few direct homages with “Holistic Narcissist” reminding me of Kyuss and “Djinn” putting in some serious Sleep exercises right down to Cisneros-style layering.
Overall, Liquid Signal manages to set a distinct identity on Neuronicae. The group pulls from a variety of influences and the most potentially out of place tracks manage to stay cohesive thanks to the competent musicianship and consistent atmosphere. I wish the drum mix was a little punchier and the track order can feel a little jumbled at times, but this is a strong first impression that’ll get even tighter with time. It’s unorthodox doom but it isn’t trying too hard to be such.
“Lords of Smoke”