Every Friday, The Metal Examiner delves metal’s endless depths to present the genre’s most important and exciting albums.
Liturgy: “Returner”[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/03-Returner.mp3|titles=Liturgy, “Returner”]
For a moment, Brooklyn-based quartet Liturgy seemed poised to steer black metal into a bold new direction. Renihilation, the group’s debut full-length from 2009, showed that even while employing the classic tenets of black metal, it was possible to push the genre forward and put it in a more efficient package. Yet whereas that album made a statement, the band’s follow-up, Aesthethica, turns many of those tactics into a mere reminder.
Liturgy comes armed once more with Hunter Hunt-Hendrix’s mostly indecipherable howl and quasi-anthemic guitar lines blasted with co-pilot Bernard Gann, both positioned over Greg Fox’s machine-gun drumming and Tyler Dusenbury’s frenetic bass lines. But rather than let its pieces work alongside each other, Liturgy places its components atop each other, turning its formidable wall of sound into an unfiltered onslaught.
By most standards, Liturgy still has a fairly forward-thinking vision of what black metal can be, reaching out of the genre playbook at will. Odd-pattern tremolo picking gives “Tragic Laurel” a progressive feel that leaves the door open for the sucker punch of its main section, and “True Will” stacks layers of screams over a seesaw chord progression, interrupted only by a skipping-CD breakdown.