Friday, May 20, 2011

Hypehammer: Liturgy - Aesthethica

On this installment of Hypehammer, we suffered through Liturgy's latest turgid, absurdly pretentious sophomore album 'Aesthethica' so you don't have to. Here's what we thought.

Pavel: Look, I'm just saying, I liked Liturgy's first album. Regardless of all the bullshit around it, I could put it on and hesh out, because I thought they were well-constructed songs with interesting melodies and art-rock textures, even if they weren't really black metal.

Noktorn: Okay, that's a character flaw that I can accept from you. But we're talking about 'Aesthethica' here. It fucking sucks.

P: Yeah, it's really gay and terrible.

N: For me, the biggest problem with Liturgy is that they make all the bullshit philosophy and aesthetic behind this music so inextricably tied to the music itself I can't see it any other way. I literally cannot listen to this music objectively.

P: Well, I'd say there's a big difference between this album and the last one. I mean, Liturgy's always been sort of a response to black metal, but on the first album it just felt like they were trying a lot harder. Here, they just sort of... Kralliced out. They did exactly what everyone was expecting.

N: I personally think that the overall concept of Liturgy is that it's not about the music so much as what the music says about you. Not "I like Liturgy's music," but "Listening to Liturgy means that I'm THIS kind of person." It's a statement with music put on the back burner. Of course this is without even going into Hendrix's bullshit musical philosophy.

P: Well, I think you can make the argument that a lot of music creates that sort of identity and branding around itself. Definitely everything else in the hipster black metal movement Liturgy's a part of, but it extends past that as well.

N: You see, I think there's a couple points that really PROVE the aesthetic thing. Like on 'Veins of God'-

P: I like that riff.

N: Yeah, but it's transparent. 'Veins of God' is basically a stoner rock song because Liturgy's playing to an established audience. They're the kind of people who like stoner rock, so Liturgy will put what amounts to a stoner rock song on their album because their audience appreciates it, regardless of whether it's musically congruent.

P: You're looking at it from a Brooklyn Vegan sort of perspective there, though, where something is 'sludge' because heavy and slow = doom. When I listen to that, it just sounds like a slow hardcore riff, something derived from Converge and shit. You don't really need to put so much emphasis on THAT in particular.

N: Okay, well what about 'Glass Earth'?

P: Well that's just an obvious filler track. It's Liturgy's equivalent to the typical black metal spooky synth interlude. It sounds like it was embarrassing to record.

N: Just getting back to the raw music, though, every track pretty much sounds the same. If you've heard one of the 'black metal' tracks, you've heard them all. Plus, I can't fucking stand that obnoxious burst-rhythm stuff they do where they keep hitting a single high chord in an erratic pattern. It does nothing for me. Sounds like they're aping Rush or something.

P: I think that's to build tension, but it doesn't really work. I guess the IDEA could be cool, but it's horribly applied. There's a lot of little moments on this that make me think of the first album, like the beginning of 'Harmonia', but they never go anywhere or lead to anything. Honestly, I think that what happened is that Liturgy basically saw what the metal scene was saying about them and decided 'You know what, we're just going to do exactly what Liturgy is all about and make a really gay album.' It's another response to the scene.

N: Well, intentionally gay doesn't make it any less gay.

P: You know, these guys have been completely ostracized from the New York metal scene. They basically can't get on shows with any metal bands anymore, so they keep getting put on indie rock shows and stuff. I mean, I understand why they'd do that, but-

N: Nope, they asked for it. They antagonized the whole metal scene and now they're laying in the bed they made. I mean, I might feel kind of bad for them, but come on, what did they expect?

P: Well- yeah. Yeah. They're getting what they asked for.

Buy this album on Amazon


  1. I'm no expert on metal or black metal. But this band is terrible! Whatever it is they are trying to do, they just aren't clever enough to pull it off right.

    As for the pretentious aesthetics they spout: BEHERIT. Listen to "Drawing Down the Moon" and tell me that isn't Baal himself slithering out of your speakers, come to transport the empty shell that is your mind to a paradise of unimaginable evil. That is ritual music for summoning. Not some lame-ass thought experiment gone wrong.

  2. I'm not sure it's for lack of cleverness... "Renihilation" was a great album that's well worth checking out. Perhaps lack of orientation? They decided to sever ties to the black metal sound that gave form to their first release, and are now grasping haphazardly at various tropes of art rock and contemporary composition.

    With the first album, these non-metal influences dictated the music's inner logic rather than its outer form. That's what made it so good. With this album, Liturgy have faltered in their attempt to reveal that hidden center, to make something implicit explicit. In fact, this pattern also describes their frontman's retarded "philosophy" of black metal. You could look at Liturgy as an attempt to apprehend the sacred that is, in fact, a clumsy profanation.

    And yes... Beherit stands within the truth.

  3. (thanks for the comment, it really helped me clarify my thoughts about the problems with this album. the beherit reference, in particular, put me on the right track.)

  4. I don't think the first Liturgy album was any good but it was at least coherent/consistent. Aesthethica (is Sylvester the cat providing their album titles now?) is just a fucking mess, and pandering in the worst way possible.

  5. This is the worst fucking album ever made. Hahaha all you fucks who hyped it and tricked me into downloading it. Really fucking funny. You got me. I actually listened to the whole thing because of all your great reviews of it. You got me. I wasted an hour of my life. Fuck you all, Andy Kaufman wanna-bes.

    1. yep, i listened to the whole thing too so i feel your pain

  6. This is unrelated, but have you checked out The Secret? They do the slow hardcore Converge thing you're hearing on 'Veins of God' but they don't actually sound like pussies.

    1. Yeah I have, and I appreciate the suggestion, but here's my frank opinion on them:

      I agree that The Secret's not pussy, but "not pussy" might be all it is. It could be they've changed since their first full-length (a year ago?), but I remember it being this kind of monotonously abrasive, angry music without much going on underneath. Like, they mistook mere unpleasantness for the actual POWER that comes from good songwriting. They sound a lot "like" Converge, using similar types of riffs and whatnot, but they don't DO the compelling musical things that make Converge a great band.

      On top of that, they sort of gussy it up with all this "blackened" nonsense-=basically just some vaguely Darkthrone riffs and disharmonic guitars that were already common in metalcore/screamo--and paint a goat on the album cover. Voila, instant black metal merchandising tie-in.

      So in their own way, The Secret are a lot like Liturgy! Both are stylistic statements as much as they are bands, and that focus on surface aesthetics really hurts the music. I actually mentioned The Secret in a recent post I did on the whole "dark music" trend.

    2. As far as downtempo hardcore with some black metal gestures thrown in, I have been digging Hexis lately. instead of just seasoning hardcore with some musical elements reminiscent of black metal, they have an appreciation for the kind of overall effect those elements are supposed to produce. it's hardcore, but with an emphasis on droning, tension-filled riffing (parallels bands like Hate Forest), and relentless drumming that's more about increasing heaviosity than keeping a beat (they use double bass to do what war metal bands do with blasting). It's got this amorphous, atmospheric feeling to it, and yet at its best it still has the gut slam aggression of good metalcore.

      Anyway, that's a long way of saying that their engagement with BM is a lot more sincere, interesting, and thorough...

      Also, you heard New Lows?? No BM there, but Bolt Thrower death metal. And they're a Deathwish band, so there's a Converge connection too.

    3. btw, I am always open to eating my hat, so if you can find a track that will blow me away feel free to share