REVIEW: Liquid Casing – ‘A Separate|Divide’

Artist: Liquid Casing
Album: A Separate|Divide
Genre: Rock, Progressive, Experimental
For fans of: Russian Circles, Fugazi, Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Liquid Casing‘s newest effort opens with “A Path of Footprints Forged in the Midnight Sun,” a raw and gritty exploration through different variations of experimental and progressive rock that sets up a nice foundation for what’s to come on A Separate|Divide. The opener is immediately followed by “Alambrista” which starts out in a fury of rhythmic guitar and drums with cymbals crashing violently, and adds even more elements than were found on the album’s first offering. The horns and distant cycling guitar sounds add some intricate layers to “Alambrista” as the track weaves in and out of relaxed instrumental sections and intense builds in a bombardment of sound. Seven minutes of pure instrumentally experimental rock goodness makes “Alambrista” one of the strongest pieces of A Separate|Divide, and while there are no vocals, the band’s political themes strewn throughout are still very apparent in the sounds alone which is an impressive feat in its own right.

The fourth track found on the album, “The Line Which Divides,” is another stellar experimental journey through many elements of instrumental rock. Always building and twisting through different instruments and sounds, it’s almost paralyzing as you have no choice but to just freeze and attempt to absorb all its components throughout its nearly 7-minute runtime. Pounding drums, eerie guitars, and infectious orchestral layers make this offering one the most arresting tracks on Liquid Casing’s new effort. “The Line Which Divides” is a very accessible introduction to the band if you’re looking for a place to start. The same could be said for nearly any track on this album really, however, the instrumental tracks just stand out to me more for a reason unknown to myself. “Non-Linear Solution” is another example of this. It builds and builds with assistance from extreme panning until finally coming out of its cage at the 4:10 mark with a driving force that’ll knock you back.

While I’m not entirely crazy about the vocals personally, they work with what the band has going here but are more often than not distracted from in the whole of the sound. All four musicians have a lot to offer in the way of their instruments and this shows on all 9 of A Separate|Divide‘s tracks – particularly on the album’s midway point, “For A Memory Erased.” It’s the album’s longest track, reaching a sprawling 10 minutes total but every bit of its length is warranted. Even in the slower moments of the song, it never feels slow. You want to know what comes of it and you patiently wait through its slow-burning intensity and lyrical themes that the album’s title suggests, which focuses “on the idea of the exploitative use of divisions to maintain power” as well as “immigration, the process of dehumanizing people, and the violence of separation,” as the band told us in a recent interview.

As its title would lead you to believe, “Checkpoints and Borders” really drives these points home as the vocals and lyrics seem to be the focus point on this track alone. Carried by a mellow acoustic guitar and ethereal synths, the song is rather beautiful as far as its instrumentation goes. It continues to build as most of these tracks do which is where a lot of the GY!BE and Red Sparowes inspiration is evident and welcomed. I can see this track being off-putting or melodramatic to some that may be unfamiliar with the band’s lyrical structures but in the sense of the goal they’re trying to achieve as far as their theme, this track was likely needed and very therapeutic for them to get out.

A Separate|Divide ends on yet another high note in “Riot Path,” an ever-expanding beauty of progressive post-rock. I hear a lot of gorgeous jazzy influences in “Riot Path” and it wraps everything up perfectly as one of the best tracks on the album. Again, even at 7 minutes, it never overstays its welcome. The vocals are minimal in the closer but they work best in this track. “Riot Path” takes a slight breather half-way through then evolves piece by piece into a beautiful monster of a creation that never lets up.

Even at a whopping 58 minutes shared between just 9 tracks, A Separate|Divide never really feels too long, which to me is a great thing as I can get bored easily. Liquid Casing offer enough variations in instruments, sounds, and themes for even the most unfocused of listeners. It’s an intriguing listen, an impressive effort, and one of the most creative albums I’ve listened to this year. Liquid Casing are making exactly what they want to and their direction shows in A Separate|Divide.

SCORE: 8.5/10
Review written by: Brian Lion – Follow him on Twitter

Brian Leak
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