Liturgy - Renihilation
Black Metal
11 songs (38:40)
Release year: 2009
Reviewed by James
Surprise of the month

Those damned hipsters, daring to use their real names, daring to wear their normal clothes on stage. Much has been made of so-called “hipsters” entering the black metal arena, with Krallice and Liturgy receiving the brunt of the flak. It's all laughable, of course, and I can't think of any other genre where bands would be seen as somehow unworthy for not adhering to the dress code, so to speak. And in all honesty, these new bands have been breathing a bit of fresh air into black metal. Getting past that awful cover art, Liturgy are as snarling and intense as any black metal you can think of, sounding like Nattens Madrigal if Ulver had swapped melody for out and out aural assault. Star players on this album are frontman Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, boasting one of the most acidic screams you'll ever hear, and drummer Greg Fox. Fox in particular is what separates Renihilation from the pack, showing off one of the most intense drum performances ever seen on a metal record. Much like Absu's Proscriptor, Fox dedicates himself to plugging every hole in the band's sound, clearly a fellow graduate of the “hitting everything at once at great speed” school of drumming. Unlike Proscriptor, however, Greg Fox works with a decidedly minimalist set-up. The unholy racket he creates on Renhiliation is done using nothing more than a bass drum, a snare and a crash cymbal.

And I suppose this could be seen as reflective of Liturgy's style as a whole. The band attack their music with a raw stripped-down attitude that you'd expect from a young band (who previously operated as Hunt-Hendrix's solo project) on their debut full-length. There's real passion present in Renihilation, a rarity in a genre where bands seem intent on remaining stoic behind corpsepainted faces. For whatever reason Liturgy have been saddled with the “white metal” tag, and although I don't have the lyrics to hand Renhiliation certainly does have the vibe of religious fanaticism to it. The record opens with a deep trance-chant that gets louder and more insistent, sounding like some sort of arcane pagan ritual. Abruptly we're thrown into first track proper Pagan Dawn, Hunt-Hendrix screeching like a man possessed over a wall of sound. Liturgy seem determined to hit you with everything they've got in as little time as possible, each track being short and concise by black metal standards (nothing here breaks the six-minute barrier). And perhaps Renihilation's strength is that, in a time where bands seem increasingly bogged down in esoteric concepts and ideologies over increasingly sprawling records, here is a band who turn up with minimal cover art and a minimal sound, plug-in, say their piece and leave. All in under 40 minutes.

I can't say that Renihilation does all that much new, but they do it incredibly well. For those who found Krallice's latest to be a little too wilfully confounding for its own good, perhaps Renihilation will be more suited to your tastes. It's the essence of black metal, distilled into 40 minutes and cut into concise segments. It's not accessible by any means- it's too fast and loud for that but crucially it never seems like the band went out of their way to be inaccessible. The only complaint that can really be levelled at the record is the interludes, which are often very strange and don't seem to do all that much. Still, one of the most promising debuts you're likely to hear this year.

Killing Songs :
James quoted 91 / 100
Other albums by Liturgy that we have reviewed:
Liturgy - H.A.Q.Q reviewed by Goat and quoted 45 / 100
Liturgy - Aesthethica reviewed by Crash and quoted 78 / 100
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