Since Liecus recorded the Distinctive Design EP in 2006, they have already changed their line-up, moving bassist Neil Rosenbohm to guitar and adding bassist Joe Walbrown. They are tightening things up on tour and working on getting back into the studio, so by the time you see them next, they may sound a bit different from the six tracks on Design. Liecus has a history of tweaking the balance between their hardcore metal and melodic instincts (Hypocrite and What Have They Come For? lean toward the former, the main verse hook from “World of Suffering” on their MySpace page sounds like late-80s Van Halen).
Design is a step away from Liecus’s previous material. The band’s style is riff and churn structure, building the songs around a hardcore center. The churn is heavily influenced by Tool, and the riff, this time around, is peppered with dark, droning harmonies a la Alice in Chains (and sometimes Queensryche). They’ve refined that structure somewhat from previous albums, moving past the standard verse/chorus/bridge to a point where it seems like they are transitioning into a completely different song. A stuttering double-kick attack will segue into a grooving riff and a sweeping chorus. The oft-referenced time signature changes aren’t quite as important as the changes in feel, and Liecus has a talent for making those sound seamless.
Liecus sticks to standard metal themes of inner struggle and outer violence, trying to put a positive spin on songs like “Misery,” “Downfall,” and “Pinworm.” The album could have been called “General Friction” — most of the narratives center around some dark, amorphous problem that Liecus encourage you, the wary subject, to resist. The lack of specific details and storylines dampens the effect a bit, but that’s a judgment that has more to do with how you approach lyric writing, a matter of preference between Bob Dylan’s “Hurricane” or Alice in Chains’ “Man in the Box.” Liecus is firmly in the box.
Words By: Nick A. Zaino III