Liquid Therapy – Breathe
Release Date: 12/09/2020
Running Time: 50:04
Review by Martin Bennewith
“Breathe” is the debut album of Belgian rock band Liquid Therapy. I had not heard any of their music until now, and although this independently produced album does show that they are a band with promise, I couldn’t help noticing that the production lacks some polish. They know how to get a good sound from their guitars, and they seem to have a formula for the vocal style, but it seems a bit rough around the edges, especially the percussion. I am not however going to dwell on this and will concentrate on their music rather than the production. It is after all their first album!
I listened to the whole album from beginning to end the first time to get an idea of their style, and it was quite hard to pin down. I am thinking of a mash up of metal, grunge and nu metal – it will certainly appeal to a broad fanbase, and I would say there is a lot of uniqueness to their style because they clearly have a lot of influences.
The album kicks off with ‘When Love Fools You’ which is quite dark, but with lots of guitar fuelled energy. Bart Costenoble’s vocals cut through well over the overdriven guitar and rhythm section. It is a fair start; however, the track is edging on the bland side and does not really move me so much. There isn’t a great deal of variety and a fair amount of repetition, so for me the track passes quite quickly.
‘Keep On Going’ has an airy feel to it, with more emphasis on melodic arpeggiated guitar lines along with the muted power chords that provide a backdrop to the stirring vocals, which are sung like a story is being told. There is a break where you get some drum action and some lead lines, which allow this track to hold my attention for longer than the first one.
The third track ‘Payback’ returns to the same formula as the first, with the muted overdriven rhythmic guitar filling the space, but with this offering, there is something about the vocal performance that doesn’t work for me. It is almost like the tonal quality suffers as Bart tries to emphasise the energy perhaps a bit too much.
‘Scars’ is actually a good rock song, and at last my head is beginning to shake a bit. I think Bart’s vocals suit the energy of the track – which has some lead riffs that along with the bass and drums create a very nice energy. With the changes of feel during the track this keeps me happy until the end.
We are halfway through the album when ‘Fly Away’ starts off with promise as the grunge metal type guitar intro kicks in, and a very persistent kick drum that carries the track through. It is very up tempo, but the vocal style is more laid back at times compared to the energy of the music. It still possesses raw grainy vocal energy in parts, so overall it does work. The section that breaks from the rhythm guitars, with a laid-back lead against the up-tempo kick towards the end is a nice touch, and overall, this is one of the better songs on the album.
‘Sober’ is dark and airy at the same time – a wall of guitar sound throughout the track, but with good variety of parts. It has a progressive feel, and the vocals take nearly a minute to kick in. There is an interesting bridge section with some melodic guitar and distorted vocals that does add to the piece rather than take away – although I wasn’t blown away by this one, it is structured well enough.
The next track ‘Control’ stands out as rhythmically different, with a triplet feel, and a real serious punch. The vocals work on this one – the combination of anger, strength, energy and vulnerability is all there at the same time, and I can really feel this song. The music travels at the right pace to compliment the subject matter of the lyrics and the vocal performance.
‘I Don’t Care’ is a return to the grunge style – which perhaps is quite fitting given the lyrics and song title. I think it follows the formula of some of the weaker tracks on this album, and the vocal work carries with it a similar imbalance as noted on ‘Payback’. Although it does have a break that features a laid-back lead and some chatter, as well as an odd sounding guitar solo towards the end, but it’s quite repetitive overall.
‘Rat Race’ begins with a lot of tension, and then breaks into an angry rock song, but with lots of kick. The wall of overdriven guitar is complimented with some variety musically and rhythmically, and carries the message across well. I do like the breaks here that create a nice feeling of anticipation. Once again, the vocals are a mixture of anger and vulnerability that are a feature in Bart Costenoble’s style. This one works well.
Now we save the best until the last. The title track ‘Breathe’ is a two-chord journey. It is like nothing else on the album in that it is long, slow, and tells a story. I like rock ballads, so I am glad there was one waiting for me at the end. The track is progressive and has the contrast between beautiful melodic guitar and soft vocals, and overdriven guitar and anger. The lead guitar parts compliment the track, building rhythmically as the song progresses. Despite the track having a simple composition, it makes good use of variety and progression to hold interest for nearly 10 minutes. No doubt for me this is the highlight of the album.
Well that’s it, and although it isn’t a bad album, I wasn’t blown away either. For me it was a mixed bag, and the grunge style tracks didn’t work as well as the ones with a more classic feel. I am not sure if that is just down to personal taste or the band’s chemistry. Despite this, as well as the production issues, there were lots of positives too, so I wouldn’t write “Breathe” off by any means. It’s definitely worth a listen.
01. When Love Fools You
02. Keep On Going
05. Fly Away
08. I Don’t Care
09. Rat Race
Vocals: Bart Costenoble
Guitar: Gino Lippens
Guitar: Davy Gheerardyn
Drums: Luc Van Dyck
Bass: Hans Van Den Hende
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