Liturgy. Lots has been said about Liturgy over the past year or so, specifically about Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, the vocalist and a guitarist for the group. What most people think of when they think of Liturgy is four hipsters talking about their invention of “Transcendental Black Metal”. Hendrix wrote a manifesto about his coined term Transcendental Black Metal outlining exactly what it is. It contains a list of characteristics Transcendental Black Metal has. For example, instead of blast beats, TBM has “burst beats”. Hendrix also talks about how there is a “substratum of chaos” and elements of romanticism in black metal that has been lost. Hendrix’s idea of TBM is that it’s a rejection of black metal, but also taking it as seriously as you can take it.
After all of this talk about Liturgy, you would think that they’re either the most pretentious idiots on earth or they’re out to change the face of black metal permanently. With all of this context, it’s almost impossible to listen to Liturgy without thinking about what everyone is flipping out about, all this backstory about Hunter.
But when it comes down to the music, you’ll find an interesting vision of modern black metal. Liturgy doesn’t set out to ape the classic bands like Darkthrone and Mayhem. They also aren’t mimicking more modern black metal bands like Wolves in the Throne Room or Skagos. The end product is a blend of the speed and brutality of the classic black metal, with some of the elegance of the new stuff.
Their first album, Renihilnation is pretty solid. It’s a short trip through what Liturgy is all about. There’s been a lot said about this album, so I’ll just suggest you listen to it to find out. There are some solid grooves, moments of absolute chaos, and bloodcurdling screams. What more could you want?
Then we come to Aesthethica, which I think will be hard for the band to top. “High Gold” starts off with an effect that I don’t understand but it’s awesome sounding. It sounds almost like raindrops on a guitar plugged into a low quality amp, growing faster and more intense until the band finally kicks in with full force.
What I’m most impressed with in Liturgy is their musicianship. These dudes can play, there’s no doubt about that. They’re young but it sounds like they’re completely in tune with each other. Black metal often falls out of rhythm and the drums are a constant blast beat with a variation or two every once in a while. Liturgy definitely has a lot of “burst” beats, but a lot of times, drummer Greg Fox (who isn’t in the band anymore) is doing a lot of different things. The drums are something to be marveled at with Greg’s ability to perform lots of fills and still keep the rhythm amongst all the cacophony.
If you’re not afraid to listen to what most black metal purists call “hipster black metal”, listen to Liturgy. Aesthethica is definitely in my top albums of last year and I’m feverishly looking forward to what Liturgy is going to do in the future. Whatever, purists. You’re missing out dudes.