Blind Ego – Liquid – Album Review

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Artist: Blind Ego

Album Title: Liquid

Label: Gentle Art Of Music

Date Of Release: 21 October 2016

Blind Ego is another new discovery for me this year. It is the brainchild of the RPWL guitarist Kalle Wallner and was first conceived around the mid-naughties, releasing ‘Mirror’ in 2007 and then ‘Numb’ in 2009. It has been a long wait for existing fans therefore as it has taken no less than seven years for album number three, entitled ‘Liquid’ to arrive.

If like me, you’re familiar with RPWL but less so with Blind Ego, you’ll be immediately surprised by the heaviness that accompanies this album. However, after doing a little research, it transpires that this output is generally in keeping with the approach of Blind Ego over the previous two albums. As such, whilst RPWL is very much a progressive rock band with touches of modern neo-prog, Blind Ego is a more muscular affair, shall we say. Being the Man of Much Metal, I’m never going to quibble about an increased heaviness of music and as such, this is a pleasant surprise.

The other nice surprise is the cast of musicians that have been brought together to bring ‘Liquid’ to life. The core of Blind Ego is simply Wallner himself on guitar and keys but joining him on this particular musical journey are vocalists Arno Menses (Sieges Even, Subsignal), Erik Blomqvist (Seven Thorns) and Aaron Brooks (Simeone Soul Charger) as well as bassists Sebastian Harnack (Sylvan), Ralf Schwager (Subsignal) and Heiko Jung (Panzerballett) and drummer Michael Schwager.

The end result is an album that displays a high quality and a strong professionalism at it weaves its way through nine powerful compositions (ten if you include a ‘single version’ of ‘Blackened’) that offer the listener plenty by way of variety, intrigue and intensity. ‘Liquid’ is very much a progressive album in the fact that no two songs sound the same or tread a particularly similar path. Some of this has to do with the use of different singers and musicians from track to track, meaning that the true identity of Blind Ego is harder to pin down. It also has to do with the fact that in Wallner, Blind Ego is led by a truly excellent guitarist as well as someone with a wide array of influences and the ability to capture all these references within well-executed and thought-out compositions.

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Atmosphere is an important aspect of Blind Ego’s sound on the basis of ‘Liquid’. Throughout there are plenty of moments of quiet introspection and reflection to juxtapose the heavier and angrier bursts, led by either a huge riff or a robust and commanding rhythm. Take the quiet acoustic guitar intro to ‘Never Escape The Storm’ as a perfect example. Simple, effective and full of feeling, it works brilliantly against the heaviness that brazenly replaces it, albeit momentarily as this symphonic-sounding quasi-ballad ebbs and flows from light to shade with genuine grace.

From what I can glean from the lyrics, ‘Liquid’ is not the most uplifting of albums either as it tackles some bleak and harsh topics. Whichever vocalist is employed to bring the words to life, it is a choice well made. Naturally I’m continually drawn to Menses as I’m a huge fan of Subsignal and Sieges Even before them. However, both Blomqvist and Brooks demonstrate that they are accomplished vocalists and fit in very nicely indeed.

I must admit, I was drawn in to Blind Ego upon hearing the track ‘Blackened’, the lead ‘single’ from the new album. Featuring Subsignal’s Arno Menses on lead vocals, it is a monster of a song, full of emotion, a lovely crunch and a memorable chorus. There’s no denying the echoes to the work of Subsignal but regardless, it hit me immediately and made me realise that I had to explore this band in more detail. The effect that the guitar has on me when it cuts in to signal the beginning of the chorus is so majestic and profound, I just love it. It’s one of those ‘unexplainable’ moments that strike a chord.

I’m pleased to report that ‘Liquid’ is not a one-song album either. I worried that the rest of the album might not live up to the same standard, but on the whole, I have few complaints in that direction. There are a couple of songs that fail to hit those heights but I think that’s more down to personal taste than a dip in quality per se.

The aforementioned ‘Never Escape The Storm’ is a personal favourite as is the slightly more quirky and ‘progressive’ opener which goes by the name of ‘A Place In The Sun’. It is dark in tone but with strong melodies and a catchy chorus that somehow remind me a little of bands like Ivanhoe. The driving rhythms, prominent bass work and commanding vocals of Blomqvist give ‘Hear My Voice Out There’ a melodic hard rock feel with a cheeky, arena-rock swagger. I wasn’t expecting his, but it works really well and ends up as a distinct highlight as far as I’m concerned.

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I really like the dreamy, synth-drenched intro to ‘What If’, a song that shows Blomqvist at his very best. It is also Blind Ego at their heaviest thanks to some huge, bulldozing guitar tones and uncompromising riffs. Then there’s the closer, ‘Speak The Truth’ that’s the only track to feature Brooks behind the mic. He has a good voice and it is a worthy conclusion to the album, although I’m personally not the biggest fan of the more laid-back bluesy vibe. For me, the chorus veers just a little too close to a more mainstream, radio-friendly destination.

Overall, I’m delighted to finally make the acquaintance of Blind Ego. I have had a lot of enjoyment out of this record and I therefore have no hesitation to recommend ‘Liquid’ to anyone who enjoys melodic progressive rock or metal with plenty of atmosphere and where the song is more important than an overt demonstration of instrumental prowess and technicality.

The Score Of Much Metal: 8.0

If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others via my reviews pages or by clicking the links right here:

Dark Tranquillity – Atoma
Hammerfall – Built To Last
Testament – Brotherhood Of The Snake
Crippled Black Phoenix – Bronze
Riverside – Eye Of The Soundscape
Hanging Garden – Hereafter
Theocracy – Ghost Ship
Arkona – Lunaris
Oddland – Origin
Sonata Arctica – The Ninth Hour
Edensong – Years In The Garden of Years
Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep Of Reason
Alcest – Kodama
Opeth – Sorceress
Negura Bunget – ZI
Epica – The Holographic Principle
Amaranthe – Maximalism
Eye Of Solitude – Cenotaph
Seven Impale – Contrapasso
DGM – The Passage
Pressure Points – False Lights
In The Woods – Pure
Devin Townsend – Transcendence
The Pineapple Thief – Your Wilderness
Evergrey – The Storm Within
Dream The Electric Sleep – Beneath The Dark Wide Sky
Periphery – ‘Periphery III: Select Difficulty’
Karmakanic – Dot
Novena – Secondary Genesis
Witherscape – The Northern Sanctuary
Eric Gillette – The Great Unknown
Tilt – Hinterland
Cosmograf – The Unreasonable Silence
Fates Warning – Theories Of Flight
Wolverine – Machina Viva
Be’lakor – Vessels
Lacuna Coil – Delirium
Big Big Train – Folklore
Airbag – Disconnected
Katatonia – The Fall Of Hearts
Frost* – Falling Satellites
Glorior Belli – Sundown (The Flock That Welcomes)
Habu – Infinite
Grand Magus ‘Sword Songs’
Messenger – Threnodies
Svoid – Storming Voices Of Inner Devotion
Fallujah – Dreamless
In Mourning – Afterglow
Haken – Affinity
Long Distance Calling – Trips
October Tide – Winged Waltz
Odd Logic – Penny For Your Thoughts
Iron Mountain – Unum
Knifeworld – Bottled Out Of Eden
Novembre – Ursa
Beholder – Reflections
Neverworld – Dreamsnatcher
Universal Mind Project – The Jaguar Priest
Thunderstone – Apocalypse Again
InnerWish – Innerwish
Mob Rules – Tales From Beyond
Ghost Bath – Moonlover
Spiritual Beggars – Sunrise To Sundown
Oceans Of Slumber – Winter
Rikard Zander – I Can Do Without Love
Redemption – The Art Of Loss
Headspace – All That You Fear Is Gone
Chris Quirarte – Mending Broken Bridges
Sunburst – Fragments Of Creation
Inglorious – Inglorious
Omnium Gatherum – Grey Heavens
Structural Disorder – Distance
Votum – Ktonik
Fleshgod Apocalypse – King
Rikard Sjoblom – The Unbendable Sleep
Textures – Phenotype
Serenity – Codex Atlanticus
Borknagar – Winter Thrice
The Mute Gods – Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
Brainstorm – Scary Creatures
Arcade Messiah – II
Phantasma – The Deviant Hearts
Rendezvous Point – Solar Storm
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld II
Antimatter – The Judas Table
Bauda – Sporelights
Waken Eyes – Exodus
Earthside – A Dream In Static
Caligula’s Horse – Bloom
Teramaze – Her Halo
Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud
Spock’s Beard – The Oblivion Particle
Agent Fresco – Destrier
Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
Between The Buried And Me – Coma Ecliptic
Cradle Of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches
Disarmonia Mundi – Cold Inferno
District 97 – In Vaults
Progoctopus – Transcendence
Big Big Train – Wassail
NightMare World – In The Fullness Of Time
Helloween – My God-Given Right
Triaxis – Zero Hour
Isurus – Logocharya
Arcturus – Arcturian
Kamelot – Haven
Native Construct – Quiet World
Sigh – Graveward
Pantommind – Searching For Eternity
Subterranean Masquerade – The Great Bazaar
Klone – Here Comes The Sun
The Gentle Storm – The Diary
Melechesh – Enki
Enslaved – In Times
Keep Of Kalessin – Epistemology
Lonely Robot – Please Come Home
The Neal Morse Band – The Grand Experiment
Zero Stroke – As The Colours Seep
AudioPlastik – In The Head Of A Maniac
Revolution Saints – Revolution Saints
Mors Principium Est – Dawn of The 5th Era
Arcade Messiah – Arcade Messiah
Triosphere – The Heart Of The Matter
Neonfly – Strangers In Paradise
Knight Area – Hyperdrive
Haken – Restoration
James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance
Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days
A.C.T. – Circus Pandemonium
Xerath – III
Big Big Train – English Electric (Part 1)
Thought Chamber – Psykerion
Marcus Jidell – Pictures From A Time Traveller
H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld

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