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Liquid Grey - Arsenic Dreams (2014) - Review

Band: Liquid Grey
Album title: Arsenic Dreams
Release date: 25 April 2014
Label: Echozone

01. Love Under Will
02. Dance Alone
03. 5 Minutes
04. New World Order
05. Black And Blue
06. Poison Days
07. Night Calling
08. Blazing Star
09. Hunger
10. Get My Kicks
11. Saint Or Sinner
12. Give Me The Rain
13. Rage (Bonus)
14. Darkest Hour (Bonus)
15. Dream Harder (Bonus)

When Liquid Grey hit the scene in 2011 with Grey Matter the fans of gothic rock, whose soever the album was intended, were a bit of confused, as the music done was soothing, atmospheric, a bit floydish tinged version of gothic rock, with smooth guitars, so probably it would be better to promote it as something for those fans of gothic rock that are very familiar with Tiamat, Lucyfire or even Pink Floyd, than to the true at heart gothsters. Nevertheless I loved the album, for me it was one of best discoveries of 2011. Now, almost three years later and one EP in between, Norwegian Robert Steen-Antonsen who's responsible for everything regarding Liquid Grey is back with his sophomore album. Don't forget that Robert is an experienced musician, as he took part of Greek band New Zero God and is an ex guitarist of the legendary The Flowers Of Romance, where he meet Wayne Hussey (The Mission) who produced one of their albums and most certainly this left a huge mark on Robert's songwriting.   

The man behind Liquid Grey, Robert Steen-Antonsen, is not simply following what he did on his predecessor, but pushes the things forward, yes, into more straight, guitar driven gothic rock waters. There are still present the atmospheric soundscapes from the debut album, but the whole thing is much more gothic rock (rock with a capital R) oriented this time. Don't expect that typical made in UK sound here as the cold Scandinavian air always leaves the imprint on musicians and so it's in this case. Ok, those who can't withstand to their gothic rock with The Sisters Of Mercy touch will not be disappointed, Arsenic Dreams builds on the rhytmic section which is very familiar with the one from the Vision Thing, partly atmospheres reminds also to who else than Fields Of The Nephilim, yet many times making it harder, even more aggressive if you want. Guitars this time are much more omnipresent and many solos make it even more tasty. Robert's vocals are as always deep, dark, raspy and a bit more hollow than on the predecessor, quite good and touchy, but I would prefer for a shade stronger singing. Still with many turbulent drum beats the featured songs gain a lot of power. 

Most of the tracks are true gems, abrasive gloomy rock tinged with gothic metal, with carefully added electronics and subtle dark keyboards. There's even some industrial substance, for example in "New World Order". On the other hand tracks like the occultistic opener "Love Under Will", "Dance Alone" which features as a guest vocalist D.M. Kruger (Descendants Of Cain), "Black And Blue", "Night Calling",... serve with an upbeat rather danceable 80's smelling goth rock vibe, yet with a kind of 70's/80's hard rocking guitar riffing and leads, especially in the second half of "Poison Days". Robert didn't forget what was all about on the debut album and some of the albums highlights "5 Minutes", heavy driven "Blazing Star" or beautiful melancholic swelling semi ballad "Give Me The Rain" comes with a huge influence from Lucyfire and Tiamat's albums Wildhoney/Deeper Kind Of Slumber/Prey, yes there is not about discovering new musical teritories but it's always present that typical mystical Liquid Grey approach towards the sole sound. Sombre and melodic "Saint Or Sinner" will probably make wet all those who have earlier works of The Mission amongst their top albums. You might notice that the rawest track up here, "Get My Kicks", brings in a certain Danzig like spirit, and of course you can't miss the great guitar solos in this one.

Arsenic Dreams is a bewitching and captivating rock album. What Liquid Grey does is gothic rock with many variations and tentacles that reach in many corners of rock music. Even though its main vibe is a vintage or better said old-school one, this album sounds very modern, maybe because of the song structures or the sole approach towards the things. Thus is certain that Robert Steen-Antonsen aka Mr. Grey is one of those first-class musicians who knows how to deal with instruments to reach the rich, dense and not at all teared up sound. Many melodic lines are catchy as hell and I think that Arsenic Dreams will be on repeat for a long time. Production, huh, not bad but even though that the experienced sound engineer Tom O’Connell (Traumtaenzer, House Of Usher, ex-Garden Of Delight), was responsible for production I believe that in this case rather more deep, clear, with a bit more emphasis on bass and strong production (now I think of Nephilim's Mourning Sun) wouldn't hurt at all, as in that case everything would be shining even more in its darkness. And I can't go past the thing that with a better looking cover artwork everything could be even more appealing. No matter what, like every other album also Arsenic Dreams must be judged because of the music and considering this is a great album, if not briliant, it's one of those highly expected releases that don't disappoint at all. Oh yes, I might mention that some of the editions come with three bonus tracks that are taken from previous EP Love Under Will. Recommendable!

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 8/10