This two-CD gala provides an all-encompassing snapshot of this very unique, Michigan based progressive-rock unit. Led by guitarist/composer Bill Brovold, the aggregation itself, looms as a collective of sorts, where various members have weaved in and out of the lineup over the course of several years.
The band’s makeup consists of strings, reeds, rhythm section and guitars. They often morph attractive harmonic phrasings into ominously crafted themes, accentuated by Brovold’s complex chord progressions and climactically-oriented licks. On "Going Somewhere Else," the strings section executes a topsy-turvy motif atop Brovold’s twangy picking, where roots music, pop and hardcore progressive-rock attain a happy medium. But they up the ante on works comprised of straight-four grooves and sustaining hooks. There are moments of angst, marked by screeching sax choruses, heavy-handed ostinatos and blaring crescendos. Yet the unit’s somber side surfaces amid introspective-type developments.
With the topic-heavy piece titled "Surviving Death," the strings and reeds performers implement a chilling vista, spiced-up by Brovold’s distortion-based voicings laced with a chops-of-doom stylization. Again, the band equalizes the torrid moments with melodic overtones. The second disc captures the ensemble’s live performances, spanning 1999-2006, highlighting its changeable personnel. In sum, Larval resides within a class unto itself. The music is augmented by a sense of purpose that is fused with lyrically rich content and staggering solo spots. (Zealously recommended.... )