Exivious-LiminalGuitarist Tymon Kruidenier and bassist Robin Zielhost were introduced to the metal masses as the new members of reactivated prog/death gods Cynic back in 2007, with Zielhost replacing bassist/Chapman wizard Sean Malone for live purposes, and Kruidenier handling both guitar and growling duties both live and on Cynic‘s incredible comeback album, Traced in Air. Both members would end up departing after the subsequent tours for Traced in Air, instead working on their own muse, the all-instrumental Exivious. They released their awe-inspiring self-titled début back in 2009, and with Liminal, the trend of jaw-dropping-yet-catchy-as-fuck progressive metal has only strengthened, and can easily land a spot on a slew of Top of 2013 lists.

One thing that should be pointed out is that Liminal is metal in the same way that Cynic‘s Traced in Air (or even its follow-up, 2011’s Carbon-Based Anatomy) was considered metal. In other words, those expecting brutality will probably be very disappointed in the lack of brutal riffs, crazy double-bass pummelling, or lack of djenting. Your loss, though, as there’s a ton of good ebb and flow here.

Opener “Entrust” starts off softly, like waking up from a peaceful dream, before the fretless bass, beautiful guitar interplay between Kruidenier and Michel Nienhuis (Dodecahedron), and some incredible fills by Yuma van Eekelen (ex-PestilenceThe New Dominion) start your day off on the right foot, like the best cup of coffee that completes a well-balanced breakfast.  “Alphaform,” possibly the most straightforward track off of Liminal, has one of the most beautiful guitar melodies I’ve heard all year, and is a perfect soundtrack to meditating at the park, watching the ocean rise and fall, or any other peaceful activity you can think of [Body dismemberment in a tub?Steel Druhm]. Definitely not what you would picture a metal album being, but when the album is this refreshingly organic and passionate, it’s difficult to resist its charm and beauty.

Exivious_2013The album as a whole is one phenomenal song after another, but the highlight here is “Woven Deeply,” which is the closest to Zielhost’s and Kruidenier’s Cynical past. Even then, between the trade-off leads of both Kruidenier and Nienhuis (which, by the way, must be heard to be believed) take a back seat to some delicious saxophone, provided by session musician Jonas Knutsson (Fredrik Thordendal’s Special Defects). Kruidenier’s production job should also be noted here, as every instrument rings with enough clarity without being too bright, or blending together to be a jumbled mess. Not an easy thing to accomplish by any means, and it helps make Liminal such an incredible album. So much so that by the time closer “Immanent” finishes up, I’m pressing play again. I haven’t said that about an album in a long time.

You can say a lot without having to utter a single word.  If their self-titled début brought Exivious into the minds of prog metallers everywhere, then Liminal should (and will) inhabit their hearts and souls. Thoroughly enjoyable, utterly breath-taking, and jaw-droppingly addictive.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: exivious.net  |  facebook.com/Exivious
Release Dates: EU: 2013.11.08  |  NA: 11.12.2013


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  • Chris Why?

    So, why is the album not a 4.5 or a 5 if it’s so phenomenal from top to bottom?

    • Whenever you compare a band to cynic it’s gonna be problematic. Imagine that the cynic album is a 5, then this album can’t possibly get 5 in this context cause it doesn’t rival it at all, it’s just a good album!

      • Chris Why?

        I understand what you’re saying, but Grymm didn’t reference Cynic in any other way except to give us some history on a couple band members and mention a song that is reminiscent of their short time in Cynic. I guess I’m viewing it from the angle that it should be judged on it’s own merit, which is what Grymm appears to have done here. It would be one thing if they were trying to overtake Cynic’s sound (like how groups were trying to rip off Carcass for all those years), but when he made not a single negative remark about the album (rather, he put it in a very positive light), I was just confused as to why it wasn’t rated higher than a 4.0, given the tone of the review. Perhaps I’m being too analytical…

        • My understanding is that Grymm was torn between 4.5 and 4.0 and the AMG policy dictates when unsure, grade down, not up. 5.0 is reserved for flawless albums.

          • Grymm

            Sorry I’m late in responding (life has a funny way of throwing insane curveballs at you). Mr. Druhm pretty much nailed why I “only” gave it a 4.0. I was teetering between a 4.0 and a 4.5 and, like he said, if you teeter, go lower. As a progressive metal album, this is very top-notch stuff, but in my opinion, it’s not quite (for me) a 4.5, and it’s not a 5.0. Now, just because it’s not a 4.5 TO ME, doesn’t mean it’s not a 4.5 (or even a 5.0) TO YOU. This is a great album, regardless of how I personally rate it, and it definitely deserves any and all accolades it gets showered with.

            Thank you for reading and responding, and I hope this clarifies things a little!

  • Sui

    Exactly, I pressed the play again after first spin–very nice review.

    • Andrew Lovell

      As did I.