Album: Shaped by Violence – EP
Past generations have taken the world they were born into for granted. For our fathers, and our fathers’ fathers, war was an intermittent occurrence, and violence was a concept that was learned and experienced at an appropriate age. This is no longer the case. Our children are practically birthed into a battlefield—the haze and fog of combat is everywhere, poison to our naivety and suffocating to our innocence. Our current state is a state that will only yield bloodshed, and bloodshed begets only more brutality. German downtempo deathcore-turned-groove outfit Livyah understand this—and they embody it with their debut EP, Shaped by Violence. The product of embattlement and eviscerating gore, Livyah’s debut release is a resounding testament to the aggression and anger of an entire generation: weaving blunt-force brutality and creative, catchy son structure into one, Shaped by Violence is a release bitter enough to breed war in even the most peaceful places on earth.
Instrumentally, Livyah don’t necessarily reinvent the wheel when it comes to heavy music. A great majority of Shaped by Violence is defined by relentless dissonance—punchy, bruising kick drum patterns rumbling beneath grisly, chunky bass while crunchy, bellowing guitars ice the band’s pestilent cake. Just because a majority of the band’s musicianship is straightforward and aggressive, however, doesn’t mean Livyah are worth writing off. Percussionist Florian Czaplik dominates with a thick, meaty kick drum and a snare that sounds like a gunshot let off right into the listener’s ears—making catchy patterns like those in “Choke” stick in the listener’s skull like a bullet lodged in gray matter. Furthermore, his flashy fills between Dominique Ertmer’sthick bass grooves are bright enough to practically blind the listener. Czaplik and Ertmer work excellently together—creating a fluid layer of ultra-dense devastation that serves as a stellar anchor for the efforts of guitarists LucasFehse and Julian Spurgat. Fehse and Spurgat, together with Ertmer’s bass, yield some of the most unbelievably heavy guitar tones since Bodysnatcher’s Abandonment. “I Am” is simply absurd, as the duo reach into the bowels of Hell’s most horrifying creatures to bring forth some of the grisliest chugs known to man. Meanwhile, “Exorcism” and “Choke” excellently meld subtle grooves with over-the-top chugs, earning Livyah their self proclaimed “deathgroove” genre.
Taking their relatively standard musicianship in stride, where Livyah truly take extra time to knock the listener back with shock and awe is with their vocal element. Frontman Kevin Pelz is pure horror. Combined with stellar cameos from brilliant guest vocalists, Pelz’s deep pitch and dynamic range make Shaped by Violence truly relentless. Pelz refuses to relent throughout the entirety of Livyah’s EP—as soon as the eerie (but overdrawn) introduction is done with, the first thing the listener hears is Pelz’s harsh, grating yells—cueing the instruments to gather and plunge the listener into abyssal heaviness. Together with Rex’s Anthony Alexander on “Sacrifice” and Beyond Deviation’s Guillaume Villaneuve, Pelz’s remarkable stamina, diverse array of harsh yells and bitter growls amplify Livyah’s aggression tenfold, making certain climactic breakdowns almost unbearably heavy.
Livyah’s honest approach to straightforward heaviness is refreshing in a time where so many bands are hellbent on incorporating a forced gimmick to make themselves seem “new” or “different”—especially when they rarely are. Granted, the band might not make heavy music headlines where originality is concerned, they certainly do so where ravaging ruthlessness is. The biggest problem with Shaped by Violence is, indeed, not a problem with the EP, but rather, the time during which it is being unleashed. In a day and age where “heavy” has become synonymous with “good,” Livyah don’t do quite enough to earn remarkable notoriety in a crowded genre—even though what they do, they do with every iota of their being.
To find the truest merit in Shaped by Violence, you have to be a glutton for aggression—a heavy music addict without hopes for cure. However, those willing to find room on their computer or iPod for Livyah will be rewarded with a release that doesn’t try to be anything but angry—and it does so with resounding success.
For Fans Of: Traitors, Bodysnatcher, Black Tongue, Feign, Rex, Wraiths
By: Connor Welsh