Liturgy - Aesthethica
"______" Black Metal
12 songs (01:05)
Release year: 2011
Reviewed by Crash

Fans of black metal have it rough. Not only do we have to defend the music that we like but we are often forced to defend ourselves. When it comes down to it, a lot (in black metal terms that means around a dozen) of black metal musicians do very bad things. Some kill each other. Some kill innocents. Some kill themselves. Yet we put up with this crap because of the music. Yes, no matter what happens Storm of the Light’s Bane is still Storm of the Light’s Bane. But no black metal band has ever gone as far as Liturgy who according to the internet are the only band that has ever been smug or pretentious EVER EVER. All seriousness aside though, it’s kind of impressive how much hate this band gets. I first heard them from an interview a friend sent me. His intention was to make me ragequit and throw my computer out of the window and into an orphanage. What has been seen cannot be unseen.

Guys... this actually band wears their own clothes on stage. Those sick fucks.

Who cares? They obviously do and make as much of a point to let you know about it as possible. Or at least frontman Hunter Hunt-Hendrix (who for the duration of this review will be acknowledged with wrestling references). What does he want to do? Triple H feels that black metal has plateaued philosophically and wants to bring it to the next level. To be fair, he isn’t necessarily wrong. He also isn’t right either. He’s just kind of annoying. Well, I’ve read the first couple pages of his manifesto “Transcendental Black Metal” and I don’t care. Music comes first every time for me, despite the douchebaggery. If the tunes rock, I’ll put up with whatever The Game wants to say. For that purpose I will do my best to be objective.

Their first album Rehinilation had some really good stuff on it. Not everything worked, but when it kicked ass it did it with grace and passion. When it doesn’t it comes off as boring and repetitive. These traits are common in black metal and I’ve come to accept that most black metal albums simply aren’t as good from start to finish. Oh well. Still, it could easily be worse and if I had never been exposed to the band before the interviews I would lump it in with other above average/take notice/buy used instead of new black metal records.

So here is their new album Aesthethica. Here is the album where they finally make do on their promise of transcendental black metal by almost completely abandoning black metal altogether. All of the key elements are still here. Triple H does his screamy screams, the guitars are minimalist and set to tremolo, and the drumming burst beats (lol) its way into oblivion.

What’s missing is the negativity or the depression that I normally associate with black metal. Almost every song here has a triumphant feel to it. High Gold and True Will both are rocking tunes that take advantage of the band’s talent with chord progressions. Whatever you think about them, it is undeniable that there is a great level of musicianship here. The band plays together as a band and not once ever thinks of straying off into a solo. Often times on the album the band will jam on a theme for minutes on end, weaving in and out of time signatures that put all of the useless djent bands to shame (Finally, a band that can take Meshuggah’s wiener out of their mouths). As a musician, this is awesome. As a listener it might get grating on the nerves. That’s for you to decide.

A lot of the time I am not reminded of black metal at all (big surprise, right?) and am instead reminded of noisy bands like Lightning Bolt or Hella who ditch the idea of vocals and just let the instruments do the work. While Hunter might be trying to lay the smackdown on the mic, the focus is definitely on the music at all times. His scream fits, but since you can’t tell what the hell is saying or even if he is attempting to say anything at all, it does only worse for the monotony problems. The band are at their best when they are locked in and focused. A better example can only come from Returner which may be the only time I have ever described a song as “like a black metal anthem”. The triumphant and high pitched guitar work is quick hitting and precise. There even seems to be some actual songwriting here rather than just taking the post rock method of “crescendo decrescendo etc.” It kicks ass. It kicks ass more than anything than they’ve done. It’s not black metal, but it is definitely something else. Maybe this is the transcendence The Rock talked about (ran out of Triple H material). Maybe it isn’t. If they write more songs like this, I would not complain. As it is though this is one of the only examples they have of true honest songwriting on the album.

There are moments here and there that will bring me back to this same level of excitement, but they are segments of songs rather than the songs themselves. I think this has to do with the ridiculously large amount of material on this album. Including the interludes (yeah…. THOSE) this album clocks in at over an hour. Sorry guys, but this is more of a forty minute kind of thing. Aesthethica as a whole comes across as thinly spread and indulgent. As a two or three songs before I listen to Unquestionable Presence for the umpteenth time kind of thing, it hits the sweet spot.Like Rehinilation, its best moments are passionate and majestic while its worst are yet again… boring and repetitive.

But this is a good album but not without a decent amount of fail. If you are a musician and you want some really good and unconventional playing then I’d suggest taking a listen (Seriously, Greg Fox is a phenomenal drummer). If you dig Deathspell Omega and want something with different vibes but similar execution this is by no means a replacement, but a nice addition. If you are a pretentious theater student who over analyzes movies and literature and will defend the artistic merit of just about anything? Then you’d be me, which means you’d think its ok.

So here is what I say to you, Liturgy. Do less interviews, break up the tempo a bit and slow things down like on Veins of God every once in a while. Make the big moments bigger and the small moments smaller. Sharpen your focus and hone in on your songwriting. And for the love of God stop putting in three minute long interludes of dudes chanting “Uhhhhhhhhhh” in harmony unless you start whacking yourself with planks while chilling with Monty Python. At least the people that dislike your band would be interested in seeing that.

And that’s the bottom line because Stone Cold said so.

Killing Songs :
Returner or any random 20 minutes
Crash quoted 78 / 100
Other albums by Liturgy that we have reviewed:
Liturgy - H.A.Q.Q reviewed by Goat and quoted 45 / 100
Liturgy - Renihilation reviewed by James and quoted 91 / 100
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