LivhzuenaHailing from the Côtes-d’Armor region of Brittany in North Western France, Death Metal five piece Livhzuena have a real hard hitting sound. Formed in 2011 and having one EP released in 2013, the five piece have just recently released their debut offering, “Dark Mirror Neurons”. Let’s see what musical impulses these Neurons transmit.

“Mars” opens the album and its intro is in your face. Powerful precise riffs, thunderous bass and tight drums, reminiscent of At The Gates hit you straight away before the Gojira esque sound of the verse shines through both musically and vocally. Whether this similarity is purely coincidence, but several French metal acts seem to be adopting the Gojira approach and luckily it works. With a polyrhythmic undercurrent and phenomenal drumming, the album opener has a real great feel to it, some moments of powerful grooves are there when the slight disjointed feel doesn’t interrupt them. It’s a good opening effort. “Nalli” follows on. Its groove laden, death metal tainted sound akin to that of Arch Enemy at times gets you before we get some intricate lead work and a real heavy powerful series of riffs in the verses. In the chorus, we get the first taste of clean vocals and the sound in the chorus sounds quite similar to Anthropia, a band I covered earlier this year, also from France. Round the mid-section (2:50 mark) there’s a heavy as hell breakdown with a real thundering bassline, intricate lead fills and some intense riffing with powerful vocals which sets up the end of the song with the final chorus quite well.

“Wave The Banner” has a big sounding intro which has a real Meshuggah vibe to it along with some good use of “woah” vocal lines, building the atmosphere of the track before it kicks in to the verse with some equally powerful and aggressive vocal work. The pre-chorus has some real frantic sounding tricky riffs and the chorus brings in the metalcore styled approach but a lot heavier, using both clean and harsh vocals. The second verse has more intricate riffs and subtle leads to it along with spoken vocal sections which go into full on screams which works to great effect. The main attraction of the track though is from 2:35 onwards. A great guitar and drum section builds up to a fluid sounding harmony lead spot and then into a huge groove laden section before the track goes back to the intro, verse, pre chorus and chorus to end. It’s a track with a real impact and one which would do well in the live setting. “Shadows And Matter” is where it really takes off. A powerful riff with a decent groove to it, backed up by some choir-like synths and samples create an epic feel and the pounding bassline is a joy to listen to. Filled with great riffs, melodic leads and fast heavy riff sections, it really comes across as a song which would be the highlight of any live set. The 2:50 mark brings in an evil sounding slow section with droning chords, subtle synths and clean vocals giving the track a great atmosphere and when it explodes back to life a minute later, it brings back the powerful riffs and pounding bassline which leads to a solid ending. This is possibly the best track of the album by far!

“Quantic Quake Monster” has a huge harmonic laden heavy groove feel, think Machine Head before Rob Flynn started sucking himself off to his own hype and you get the idea (pre-Blackening). Clever sample use, thunderous bass and a real metalcore groove make this a track which would do well in the live setting as it teases between verses with less intense passages which explode back to life with a real hard hitting impact. The lead work is simple in this track but it adds to the overall feel of the song, complimenting the great groove by the rhythm section underneath it, but the highlight of the track is the 3:30 mark where it cleans up. Clean guitars which swell in volume give an ominous edge to the song which helps build up to the huge breakdown riff which hits like a sledgehammer and has the perfect feel for headbanging too. “Void” has a real Scandinavian death metal feel to it. From the drum intro, the track is fast paced with raw vocals and a mammoth sized groove to it. The thundering bassline and powerful rhythm really hit home and in the chorus, the use of cleaner vocals works rather well. Once again, the rhythm section steals the show on this track with some fantastic moments and the death metal feel groove approach on the track just comes across great!

Closing the album is the title track, “Dark Mirror Neurons”. Opening up with an acoustic guitar with a slight flamenco feel to the strumming, a slow paced distorted lead and samples join in, helping build it up before the distortion really kicks in and the track gets a move on. Spoken samples and a sinister guitar sound really work well with the outstanding rhythm section, particularly the fantastic and heavy bassline. Full of powerful groove riffs, the track is like a merging of Gojira and Meshuggah at times with the rhythm techniques used and the song has a real powerful sound to it. The only drawback is that it goes on a bit too long, but it does close the album well.

Overall, “Dark Mirror Neurons” is a good solid modern death metal album with some great technical work and great grooves. Heavy on all fronts, Livhzuena are one to watch over the next few years for sure!

(8/10 Fraggle)