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Calliophis – Liquid Darkness Award winner

Liquid Darkness
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 10 October 2021, 6:57 AM

CALLIOPHIS is a death/doom band from Germany who formed in 2006.  "Liquid Darkness" is their third full length album. "Liquid Darkness" is a slow moving and highly atmospheric album. Honestly, this album's style and sound is a perfect example of why doom is my favorite genre of music. I love slow songs that build up and change as they awaken from slumber and then scrape across the musical landscape with lumbering tenacity. This is "Liquid Darkness" and as the title would suggest, the music pours over you and encompasses you.

This isn't death/doom in a brutal, tortuous way. The brand that CALLIOPHIS has on display across the six track, and hour run time, is melodic with many guitar harmonies.  It is an emotional darkness that is just as stark as a more brutal sound but it hits in melancholic waves rather than blunt force. That isn't to say the band doesn't have the ability to go balls out. Each song has moments where the density of the riffs and the immovable force of the bass do indeed get quite vicious but these parts are molded into the fabric of the songs. Instead of everything coming to a stop to switch gears, these heavier moments are just another wave in this black ocean that crashes against you.

Other elements exist within this miserable universe. Keys/synths are used to great effect and post elements can be found as well. All these things just make the doom metal all the better as they get mixed into one giant landscape of impenetrable music. The album begins with the title track. Ethereal keys fill the background and take over the clean guitar that begins the song.  Deep death growls and guitars hit in a sweltering way.  Matthias has a keen understanding in the importance of thick riffs…his playing his MASSIVE. Likewise, he knows just when and where the song needs melody.

Thomas' vocals are outstanding. He sounds like a beast but can be understood. His presence on the album is untouchable and all important. Let's take about the rhythm section for a moment because these guys are giants in the songs. Andreas' bass is like a mega sized leviathan that coils itself around the body of these songs and squeezes out some of the best tones I've heard all year in doom. Florian's drums are fluid and exciting. The music may be slow but the way he works around the songs provides a constant burst of adrenaline that leaves an air of excitement of sorts around all this beautiful darkness.

Sorry got ahead of myself. The title track winds the metal back around the 3:30 mark for clean instrumentation and keys to creep in. This sounds very natural and once the drums begin a new, the tension can already be felt winding up. But the song isn't really to let go just yet…the band returns to heavier waters but the restraint can still be felt. Then it happens at the 6:10 mark with the bass and drums shaking the ground for a pulverized section. The accompanying part feels very post doom to me, what with the melodies overlaying on top of the rhythm section and the drums making a huge ruckus.

"Krakonos" is funeral doom in the beginning. The vocals are straight from the grave and grasp hold of the riffs to help pull themselves up.  The simple keys add more dimension to the sound. This movement is terrifying actually.  The song goes minimalist for a few precious seconds which makes the following part sound even heavier. At the 3:33 mark, the song becomes a miasma of sound that pushes ever forward. The guitar's lead work changes the dynamics often, a nice advantage for such slow music.

"Rajomon" stretches out keys/synth like tendrils from an unseen monster grasping for a victim.  The finality, the impending doom, is seen from far away but the journey is so rewarding that I actually looked forward to it. The tone on this song from the guitar is crushing to the point the pressure could be felt on me through my headphones.  Hints of melody and some lead harmonies are sprinkled throughout the song that add nice details that bind the song together. "Munk (warm heart)" is quiet and even gentle over the course of the first couple minutes. Whispers slowly build up and then the song gets dark with just nasty growls.

This one has a nice flow to it, considering how slow and blackout intense it is—there is also some groove here and there that helps with that. The melodic portions around the four minute mark are a nice touch and it goes to show how much care the band put into these songs to add little touches like that here and there. Another part that really impressed me was the drumming/whispering combo at the 7:25 mark. Did it need to be there? Yes. Did it enhance the song? Also yes.

"The Art Of Shudder" opens with atmospheric drums that set the mood and even add a slight bombastic feel, something we don't get a lot of in doom. This song seems more cinematic and wide in scope than the other songs, which will garner zero complaints from me. The mid portion is centered on bass and drums with more Whispers. This movement is creepy and ambient, both styles that fit right at home within context of the song.

The final track is the 14 minute epic "Fratricide," and it caps the album off in a big way. Crawling at a snails pace, the song is monolithic.  Perhaps a minute or so could be trimmed off but this is a minor complaint.   In between the longer sections of sledgehammer riffs, clean, melodic and ambient sections squeeze their way in to make use of the space between the notes. This definitely keeps the song interesting. The last few minutes are particularly noteworthy when every element of the album comes together just before it fades away with epic keys.

CALLIOPHIS' "Liquid Darkness," is monumental success and for the realm of doom, this album hits all the right notes.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Liquid Darkness
2. Krakonoš
3. Rajōmon
4. Munk (Warm Heart)
5. The Art of Shudder
6. Fratricide 
Florian   - Drums
Thomas - Vocals
Matthias -  Guitars
Andreas – Bass 
Record Label: Solitude Productions


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