Reviews

Lizzard, Majestic (Klonosphere/Season of Mist, 2014)

Majestic is the impressive sophomore full-length from French trio Lizzard, released towards the end of last year via Klonosphere/Season of Mist. Its 10 tracks walk a line somewhere between heavy hard rock and alternative metal, and using the band's approximately 2,500 Facebook likes as a gauge, they're not nearly as popular as they could/should be. The 51-minute journey displays an interesting combination of Tool-esque experimentation (some of which actually hits on a '70s prog rock influence) and big, radio-ready choruses—due in no small part to excellent vocals that transition from forceful singing and gorgeous harmonies to an aggressive shout.

Imagine, perhaps, a healthy dose of Tool fused with dashes of early Chevelle (circa Wonder What's Next), bits of later Helmet (circa Size Matters), and then some. I, for one, am fully on board.

Opener "Vigilent" is one of the more straightforward cuts, and definitely feels to me like it could've been a fairly successful radio single at any point during the last 10 - 15 years. God damn fantastic songwriting—heavy grooves, yet still melodic, an awesome vocal performance, it's catchy, etc. "The Roots Within (Majestic)," though, gets more open and spacious, flirting with some subtle psych rock textures and highlighted by a fuckin' slick drum performance that gets into some surprisingly intricate little nuances and rhythmic twists.

"Just a Breath" proves that the band can create the same sense of emotion and impact without vocals; utilizing a slow build from sparse, clean guitar melodies and reverberating bass that gradually increase in volume and distortion—eventually breaking out some of those "post-metal" tremolo picking textures, but still managing to remain tasteful and direct. This signals a bit of a slowdown, as the next few tracks ease up a bit—the spiraling acoustic guitars and bluesy solo of "Circles," the pulsing bass and soft volume swells of "Reminder" (where the restraints come off during the chorus), and so on.

And then "Colour Blind" is another standout favorite: part Deftones, part math metal, all awesome—comparable to the catchiness of "Vigilent," but more adventurous musically.

Produced by the band, the whole of Majestic sounds great, with lots of interplay between lush guitar textures and hammering bass runs (which have just the right amount of dirty grit in the tone). They come across thicker than you'd expect for a trio, but not to the point of it becoming a distraction. A little more brightness or breathing room might have been beneficial, but that density accentuates the hard-hitting power of the drumming—arguably the most impressive performance all around (check out this playthough video for an example).

I don't know that I would typically get so excited over this particular style of "metal," but for whatever reason Lizzard really struck a chord with me right away, and I'm way into it. Their music can be deceptive in that there's more going on beneath the surface than one might expect from the immediacy of its catchiest and most memorable moments. I should also clarify that their similarities to Tool are neither blatant nor overly frequent (and I actually enjoy Lizzard far more than anything Tool has done since the mid-'90s), but I do think that type of audience would certainly appreciate where this album is going.

Overall, I'm impressed, and would love to see the band start getting a bit more attention. They certainly deserve it.

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