I'm going to warn you straight away, L.I.G.O are not for everyone. In fact, they're probably not for most people. They're the sort of band that you really have to work at to enjoy, but everyone knows that these types of bands always produce the best experience once you really get into them. The reason for band's having this sort of 'hard to listen to but worth it' quality about them can be very wide. It could be a tough production, odd vocals, strange rhythmic patterns, an unorthodox approach to the genre they play, well, for L.I.G.O, it's all of the above and more.
The band play a very strange brand of Progressive Death/Black Metal, spiced up with a bit of an Industrial touch in places and sporting an almost Drone/Noise like production. It's hard to explain, and even harder to compare with other bands, but if you tried to put CYNIC, MESHUGGAH and SAMAEL into a blender, then something like this might come out. Of course, that's a long shot of a comparison with those bands, but its about as close as you'll get.
Polyrhythmic guitars and non-standard time signatures are what make the core of L.I.G.O's sound so interesting. That, coupled with the extremely prominent bass (it's just as easy, if not easier, to hear than the guitars) and the smart drumming give the album a very thought out and methodical feel, as if everything has a purpose. It's all very technical and mechanical, but in the good way that bands like MESHUGGAH have pretty much trademarked, elaborate without being over the top, and complex without being self-indulgent, L.I.G.O have created a good trade-off between their technicality and their song-writing sensibilities.
Of special note should be the lyrics, which add a lot to the music; genuinely well written, grammatically correct and spiced up with a few passages of different languages that are amazingly effective, they are really fun to go through and couple with the complex and interesting music well. Passages like 'Girl with sunburn skin / her high heels a-clicking / Hurrying up somewhere with busy look / Old fiddler in the street / hands trembling, a-playing / False Morricone tune over again' are quite memorable and really interesting, while the latin (I think?) passages in “Vagina Dentata” are sung with such menace that they really stick with you. On the topic of the vocals, they are dominated by a Blackened scream that sits quite far back in the production, and really clear and almost Gothic clean vocals. The screams are almost Industrialized by the production giving them a really interesting sound, and the cleans are quite well performed, but a seem a bit too clear against the rest of the music, a small complaint but noticeable nonetheless.
Unfortunately, it isn't the only complaint you could have with the album. If you don't pay attention, it could seem quite repetitive, and that is in part due to the production which doesn't give the really interesting and unique riffs and melodies enough attention. That being said, the production is both a blessing and a curse, giving the album a really cool atmosphere as well as taking away some of the clarity from the guitars. Also, it is a genuinely hard album to get into especially if you come into it expecting more traditional extreme metal. This is the sort of stuff that needs to be approached at a certain level of caution before you can really garner if it's your cup of tea or not.
But that's the appeal, its not like the hundreds of bands that all sound the same and appeal to the same masses. It's unique, one in a million, it tries to be different and stand apart from the crowd and it really succeeds. It has its faults, but they just seem to add to the interest of the album, and I couldn't recommend this more to people who like their Metal challenging and weird.
(Online October 24, 2009)