Liturgy


(Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
Renihilation (2009), 6.5/10
Aesthethica (2011), 7.5/10
The Ark Work (2015), 4.5/10
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New York's trio Liturgy, fronted by Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, debuted with the EP Immortal Life (2008). Expanded to a quartet, Liturgy released Renihilation (20 Buck Spin, 2009), a collection of brief pieces that wed the sonic stereotypes of black metal (blastbeats, buzzing instruments and psychotic vocals) with the cultural stereotypes of progressive rock (intellectual attitude, high-brow composition). Pagan Dawn is typical of their excessive and relentless screaming, strumming and pummeling. A sort of riff and melody appears in Mysterium before drums and vocals pulverize every human feature of it. The wall of noise does exude emotions, particularly in Beyond the Magic Forest, where the infernal vocals seem to beg for help and the guitar responds with an undulating "melodic" solo. To make sure we didn't miss the point, the album closes with two more harrowing eruptions, Behind the Void and Renihilation, beyond which there is indeed only a vast prairie of fire.

This manic debut was followed by a work of pure madness, Aesthethica (Thrill Jockey, 2011), that further blurred the line between black metal and post-rock. Their minimalist-style repetition is served as cold as premeditated murder, and the singer does little more than scream and shout. They begin by unleashing the terrifying tsunami of High Gold, a sort of square dance for epileptic androids that stands as one of their tragic manifestos. A multi-layered monks chant launches True Will, a ritual of self-flagellation. A martial tone imbues the implacable storm of Returner, a sinister omen for the rest of the album. Hard to believe, but there is actually a real riff (stubbornly repeated a` la Glenn Branca) inside the syncopated gallop of Generation. If you feel that these four "opening remarks" are repetitive, the somewhat moderate whirlwind of Sun of Light introduces melodramatic variety, with even moments of King Crimson-ian pomp. The "break" of Glory Bronze, instead of being a melodic refrain, is a frenzied hymn-like vortex of wavering guitar tones that contrasts with the solitary agony of the vocalist. The influence of both King Crimson and Black Sabbath is more obvious in the eight-minute Veins of God, whose initial riff sounds like a tribute to 21st Century Schizoid Man, and whose second half evolves into a majestic march-tempo melody. Red Crown begins with a sort of bolero and then intones a spastic marionette-like ballet and then soars at the speed of light and then crushes like an exhausted horse, all the way accompanied with one of the most awful repertory of ululations ever heard in music. The torture continues relentless all the way to the final cannibal dance Harmonia, that makes Amon Duul II feel lame. This is music that reaches superhuman degrees of desperation.

Liturgy's drummer Greg Fox formed the improvisational quintet Guardian Alien.

Liturgy's The Ark Work (Thrill Jockey, 2015) opens with a synth overture, appropriately titled Fanfare, which stands as an announcement that this is a different band. In fact, the vocalist sings a litany instead of screaming in Follow. Another Scottish-style synth fanfare drives Kel Valhaal, that gets more and more cacophonic along the way, with the singer entering a spoken-word trance. Follow II is only electronic atmosphere for the first half, before it opens up to blastbeats, free-form noise and a bit of screaming. Quetzalcoatl even winks at synth-pop with a drum-machine and regular melodic singing. The grandiose riffing and the panzer tempo of Father Vorizen are wasted in another lame litany. The exotic and exoteric chant Vitriol is something one would expect from Dead Can Dance or Lycia. The eleven-minute Haelegen is simply ridiculous. A transitional work, this album scatters its songs in many different directions without hitting any target worth of being hit.

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(Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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