Liturgy - _Aesthethica_
(Thrill Jockey, 2011)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (
The mid-'00s were an interesting time for black metal, when it briefly crawled out of dark obscurity into the dull glow of the sub-mainstream. Together with indie publications, a wave of newer bands were given praise by an audience not before associated with metal. At around the same time, there was a growing interest in the violent and bizarre behavior of the Norwegian second wave. While this contemporary form of North American black metal was hinged, stylistically on the Norwegian second wave, its lyrical subject matter deviated into various directions. With the addition of thematic elements outside the stereotypes of heavy metal, these new bands gained critical praise as well as detractions from longtime black metal fans.One of the larger bands making headway in the independent black metal scene is the Brooklyn based outfit known as Liturgy. Not content with gaining a slow but steady fanbase, Liturgy has acted as party leader attempting to rally the strength of a scene still in its formative years. Love them or hate them, Liturgy releases an unavoidable record -- one that is demanding more attention than praise.Normally, an album does not come with a written document. Part of understanding _Aesthethica_ is a knowledge of frontman Hunter Hunt Hendrix's manifesto entitled "Transcendental Black Metal". In this document, the author lays out the history of black metal, beginning, unsurprisingly, at the style's Scandinavian second wave. "Hyperborean Black Metal" is the proposition with the USBM scene as its philosophic conclusion. The crux of Hendrix's argument rests on black metal pushing itself musically and thematically across a metaphoric void of noise with a new and bright future awaiting on the other side. The "burst beat" contrasts the "blast beat" as a new language in black metal. Taking this fluctuating drum beat, Liturgy combines abstract lyrics and angular vocals to create black metal which sounds like it is falling down a steep hill._Aesthethica_ shares most of the components which made up the whole of their 2009 release _Renihilation_. What is different is the publication of "Transcendental Black Metal", which seemed to have elevated Liturgy from experimental black to high target for the metal elite. Fast, dynamic, without any thought regarding past style, Liturgy appears to be on a suicide mission hellbent on the most catastrophe in one area. _Aesthethica_ is ridiculous, inaccessible and pretentious; but these three adjectives could also be applied to the whole of black metal. The one thing _Aesthethica_ is not is dull. Hendrix's shrill scream throughout every facet of the album gives it a complex character, as well as almost no points to place a strong foothold.It is almost impossible to discuss _Aesthethica_ in terms of individual songs. The entire album presents itself like conceptual art, challenging the public's definition of acceptable installation. Despite some interesting singles including "Generation" and "No Laurels", _Aesthethica_, along with the manifesto, is better viewed as a whole.In a recent Chronicles of Chaos interview, Hunter Hunt Hendrix was very much aware of the public's view on Liturgy's entrance into the metal world. Hendrix was quoted as saying: "I kind of like the idea of being sent to decimate the integrity of true black metal." Liturgy, for good or ill, is positioned on the opposition, much like its forefathers, causing a motherfucking ruckus while they are here. _Aesthethica_ is at least more interesting than a passive black metal band not kicking any dust.
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