rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. The Process
02. Antihero
03. King Of Fools
04. Forget My Name
05. Karma
06. I Am The Storm
07. Virus
08. D.E.R.
09. The Swarm
10. Horizon In Black

Liv Jagrell has always been a formidable presence. First emerging 20 years ago as frontwoman with the perennially excellent SISTER SIN, the Swedish singer oozed heavy metal integrity from the start. Since going it alone — albeit with the DIO-like caveat that LIV SIN is a band, not just a solo vehicle — she has embraced change, coolly modernizing her trademark trad metal sound and blurring the lines between defiantly old school and fervently alternative. If 2017's "Follow Me" was the bold but occasionally hesitant debut, and 2019's "Burning Sermons" was a shrewd moment of transition, "KaliYuga" is the moment when Jagrell's crew truly find their own path to tread.

As much as the phrase "alternative metal" is an odious nonsense, it might just be appropriate here. "KaliYuga" is the heaviest record LIV SIN have made: its guitar tones are low-slung and monstrous, and a spectral carapace of electro-industrial trimmings indicate a debt to the robotic might of RAMMSTEIN. At its heart, however, this is still a ferocious, melodic heavy metal record, with Jagrell's unstoppably roar as an enthralling focal point.

Songs like explosive opener "The Process" and the strident singalong of "Antihero" have the outward sheen of modern metalcore, but the songwriting that underpins it all is decidedly old school, all the better for it. In truth, it's hard to recall a record that blended ancient and modern so seamlessly.

The strongest moments are also the heaviest. "King Of Fools" rattles and rolls like TWISTED SISTER at their bruising peak, Jagrell's magnificent chorus vocal elevating it to instant anthem status. "Forget My Name" marries the hard rock schlock of '80s ALICE COOPER with the futuristic flair of WITHIN TEMPTATION, with some sublime twin-lead harmonies thrown in for the hell of it. "I Am The Storm" is BLACK LABEL-heavy and dense with melodic and atmospheric detail. "The Swarm" is a grinding, speed metal powerhouse, replete with ACCEPT-style gang vocals. Best of all, "Horizon In Black" rounds things out with lashings of drama and LIV SIN's razor-sharp radio-rock sensibilities on full display.

A natural born star with one of the finest voices in all of metal, Liv Jagrell sings it like she means it, and "KaliYuga" is wholly convincing as a result.

Author: Dom Lawson
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