Mortals – Death Ritual EP by orlandooom407

I am regularly taken aback by the sheer amount / volume of brilliant music coming from NY, specifically Brooklyn. Whether it be doom sludge mavericks Hull, or electrifying black metal trios such as Mortals, or even the highly divisive Liturgy, there is obviously a vibrant and diverse environment in Brooklyn, and we in ‘The City Beautiful’ are grateful whenever they take the time to shimmy their way on down the east coast to pay us a visit. Such was the case when I was lucky enough to see Mortals here in Orlando, and was so floored to the point of being inspired to vomit up the very review your eyes are currently drinking in. Death Ritual is a thousand pound two track assault, of which those two tracks complement each other in pristine accord. Not so much in a yin and yang kind of way (they are not what I would consider opposites), more like two dual frenzied sprinters tunneling forth to the same finish line with a maniacal intent at rapid pace. There really is not let up to the constant assault in both of these tracks, while at the same time it never seems to be too busy or lose any of its momentum, a hard balance to strike, and one Mortals achieves with finesse employing a combination of riffs that are both dark in their scathing harmonies as well as some that are just catchy and fun as hell to listen to.

The title track opens as something of cataclysmic tidal wave. That wave crashes upon you without a moments reprieve, and you are ever the grateful for it. The thick sludged out bass wrapping itself homogeneously around the relentless percussion and melodic and methodical cries and riffs. Their ability to transition from something so grooved out and catchy and down tempo as the aforementioned riff and then move into a blistering and hypnotic dark sea of torrid landscapes, is something we (those musicians among us at least) could and should all learn from.  The logo for Mortals features a blade assuming the role of the letter “T” in the bands’ moniker, and it is almost as if you can feel that very blade being jammed into your third eye, in the most enjoyable of ways of course.

I won’t lie; Final hour is easily my favorite track of the two, which is evident in how many times I destroyed the replay button before purchasing it from their Bndcamp. The second track moves along at a crushing clip, with anthemic motifs chewing away at you instantly like a buzz saw. The riffs are eloquent and memorable, especially the opener that makes its distinct appearance at 0:04 and is probably my favorite singular riff in this whole EP. The 4 minute mark introduces another example of one of those riffs Mortals weaves into their writing that is just fun as all shit. The range that is covered is impressive, and the pacing (evident in the serpentine crescendo that starts to build up at 2:21 and ultimately explodes at 2:40 in this track) is phenomenal. Mortals command such impressive compositional control over their pacing throughout each moment of the song it really is hard not to be impressed with them.

Regarding their live performance, Mortals easily exceeds what you hear on the EP, an impressive feat, and a compliment to both their EP and their killer performance. There was not a moment during their live performance where I didn’t see Caryn (drums) without a sinister grin on her face, and that’s how they will forever be remembered by me, until the next time I’m fortunate enough to catch them.

Methodical, maniacal, bliss.

Mortals on Facebook!

– Kenneth Reda


Things We Lost in the Fire by orlandooom407

Few fascist administrations have proceeded without direct participation of the reigning religious authority. In Mein Kampf, one can find the sentiment, quite early into it, that “In standing guard against the Jew I am defending the handiwork of the Lord”, and a phrase of related significance was emblazoned on the belt buckles of Hitler’s Wehrmacht: Gott mit uns, or, “God with us.” In return for the Fuhrer’s loyalty, the “Venerable” Pius XII managed to do as little as he could to help the wretched conditions and the systematic regime of murder taking place under his very holy jurisdiction. Even after the war, he still could not mention the killers by name, reciting a now-famous speech over the course of forty-five sanctimonious minutes exhorting “mankind” to protect the “hundreds of thousands” (oh, Pius!) from race-murder and oppression. His conduct during the Final Solution and his useless condemnation after the fact earn the pope rightful scorn at the Holocaust museum in Israel’s Yad Vashem, a slight that the current pope, himself a former member of the Nazi Youth, succeeded in protesting early last year, certainly earning his rodentine birth name Ratzinger.

In Simon Sebag-Montefiore’s redoubtable chronicle of poet and firebrand Joseph Djugashvili’s growth into the first Premier of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Young Stalin, the fledgling revolutionary renounces religion as early as he is able to tell the difference. He later succeeds in leading at first groups of other young men on minor waves of terror, ripping off banks in Tbilisi and committing acts of arson, but is finally able to consolidate his influence through a surgical itinerary of internecine purges. These were usually overseen or carried out by a psychotic henchman nicknamed Kamo, with the clear intention of galvanizing the lazy proletariat into participating in a revolution allegedly unfolding on their behalf. This incidentally sounds like the retrospective mandate for the classic black metal scene, with an emphasis on tearing down much the same forces (greedy corporations, corrupt religious institutions) and through much the same means. This is how the tired hashing out of the Euronymous/Grishnackh feud assumes a new element of absurdity, as what has been traditionally understood as an ideological clash – with Aarseth supposedly on the far left and Vikernes very clearly and unapologetically on the right – has more in common with the early Marxists than with their religious contemporaries in Italy, Japan, and the Third Reich.

Vikernes has often admitted to being a religious man. It is only that his faith is largely unrecognizable to a majority of people and the caveat is that his gods have been recently played for camp on screen by the actors Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston. In the documentary “Until the Light Takes Us”, he cutely posits that “everybody can relate” to the pagan gods; his writings on burzum.com intuit that the church fires he all but admitted to lighting were done to draw the line at the encroaching influence of Christianity. This is key to Stalinism, not Hitlerism, but Vikernes has embraced the latter (see his execrable anti-Jewish rant shortly after the terrorist attack of Anders Breivik in Oslo) even as he offensively pretends against his own neo-Naziism. Had Euronymous prevailed in 1993, the cult of personality would have centered around him, the busiest member of the “circle”, and it is not impossible to imagine black metal shifting leftward for the remainder of its golden years.

The few stated leftists in black metal have taken for their genre the mouthy “red and anarchist black metal”, a reworking of the official name of an anti-racist, anti-fascist skinhead group from New York. (The illustrious Aaron Weaver of Wolves in the Throne Room [no word on Nathan] definitely voted for Obama, and I don’t also doubt that the guys from Deafheaven or Liturgy did as well, but the kind of left-wing black metal I have in mind is more actionable.) RABM does not like to think of itself as a reaction to NSBM any more than Vikernes likes to think of himself as BM at all, but it cannot be easy to dent the triumphant paradigm of nationalism in black metal when every genre release sounds like the first take on a rejected demo. The most well-known RABM band is Jarost Marksa (“Fury of Marx”), and their EP is unlistenable and largely derivative of the usual long-form tropes. The void left by Euronymous and awkwardly filled by the square peg of Vikernes-esque conservatism has, if I may be allowed to breathe new life in that old cliche, produced music first as tragedy, then as farce. For those on the left inclined to the chilly strains of a tremolo pick, the stunted growth of socialist black metal is an unforgiveable loss.

It is a long-documented phenomenon that the most conservative states – those most opposed to institutional assistance – are ironically those most reliant on government intervention for their health and livelihood. And to ignite a church in service to another is not to tear down an institution, but to re-entrench oneself in it anew. RABM, if it ever gets off the ground, may be the last best opportunity for counterposing itself against the victorious trend. There was a familiar if faintly heard promise in the anti-church dictums of the original black metal scene, last perceived spoken into the yearning ears of Stalin’s and Mao’s proletariat – right before they were sent to the gulag. It is the same promise squandered in the vicious murders of Magne Andreassen and Sandro Beyer (the latter by a confessed neo-Nazi band). It would be nice to see that promise fulfilled in the reddened blush of a new age of black metal.

Click here to follow Zack on Twitter!

– Zack Sigel

Fire in the Cave – S/T by orlandooom407

Fire in the Cave‘s two-track self-titled debut (available on Bandcamp) is a howling black morsel of delicious evil.  It is a musical hayride of demonic darkness.  If the band’s Socratic name leaves you wanting navel-gazing philosophy, go listen to Liturgy because Fire in the Cave is an unrelenting sludge train of nut-pummeling brutality.

Confession time: I’m not usually a huge fan of genres like doom, sludge, or stoner metal, because I have a serious deprivation of short-term memory brought on by (ironically) heavy dope use throughout my early life.  So I tend to get impatient listening to “slow jams”.  Mmm…jam.  I like jam.  I could eat it out of the jar with a spoon.  Wait…focus…THE METAL.  I guess what I’m saying is that long, slow songs tend to bore me.  Not so with Fire in the Cave.  I wish I could shoot impressive-sounding musical terms at you like “time signatures” and “tempo changes” and shit like that but the best I can do is say that FITC is ‘not boring’. I don’t mean that like “well hey, at least they’re not Cradle of Filth”, I mean it more like: “if you’re expecting yawn-inducing 78-minute songs with a chord every three and a half minutes this is going to punch you in the face with a train”.

Not being familiar with any of the aforementioned genres actually kind of works in my favor because I can’t be tempted to say “these guys sound like…” and am sort of forced to judge purely on the merits of the music.  On the other hand if you’re one of those people who likes the comparisons so you know what to expect, you’re fucked, mate.  Did I mention Bandcamp? The tracks are available there for the reasonable price of name your own fucking price so go listen to the songs and decide for yourself, asshole.

Here’s what I get from Fire in the Cave: musically, it has the atmosphere of black metal with the odd bursts of thoughtful, expressive guitar work which somehow manage to fit the flow of the songs perfectly.  The drums do tend to get swallowed up a little but you know they are there, a fitting spinal column to the complexity of the songs.  And what can I say about the vocals? If you’ve met the ginger man-ape who fronts the band you’d probably never expect the rage-filled venom gurgling below the surface just waiting to be spewed out at full force.  The two tracks are produced well enough to let the tight musicianship shine through without polishing off the raw edge.  You can’t help but be impressed by the musical talent evident here; this is not brutal for the sake of brutality, or doomy for the sake of doom; not something designed to be shoehorned into a convenient sub-sub-sub-genre.  It is quality song crafting for the love of making music.

If I was writing this review for my own blog, I would give FITC’s debut my highest rating of 5 out of 5 drinking horns raised, but since I’m not, I’ll just say it’s fucking awesome and recommend that you go get that shit for yourself and treat your earholes to 16-odd minutes of pure swampy savagery.  You won’t be bored.

Click here to follow Fire in the Cave on Facebook.

– Gregor Von Leakenhawer

[Reader Mail] I uncovered Hunter Hunt-Hendrix’s entire family tree, and it ain’t pretty. by orlandooom407

I got an e-mail yesterday from one of our readers named Zack Sigel. Zack is a childhood friend of mine who stumbled upon an interesting chain of events that uncovered an interesting facet behind infamous Liturgy front man Hunter Hunt Hendrix.

Here’s the e-mail:

“I’ve just randomly discovered Hunter Hunt-Hendrix’s entire family tree, and it ain’t pretty.
I saw a woman named Leah Hunt-Hendrix appear on one of my favorite political websites, Salon, and I immediately realized that that kind of hyphenated name can’t be too common. Here’s the article.

They make no mention of Liturgy or Hunter, but they mention her grandfather, an oil and gas billionaire, who is easily learned-about on Wikipedia.

The progenitor of this group has had quite the run: he had “three families and 14 children”. I narrowed his children down to just those born in the last 60 years:
Ray Lee Hunt – a male, so clearly not going to make a hyphenated family name with his wife
June Hunt – an evangelical Christian with a talk radio show in Texas; as Leah and Hunter are both based in New York, I discounted her quickly
Swanee Hunt – married a man named Ausbacher, so it couldn’t have been her either
Helen LaKelly Hunt – BINGO! She married a man named Harville Hendrix.

The Wikipedia article makes no mention of her children, but the timing all links up, and she is based in New York.

Even weirder, though, both Helen and her husband Harville are themselves extraordinarily religious people. Helen runs a Christian feminist program called The Sister Fund, and Harville is a “clinical pastoral counselor”, and he doesn’t mean he advises on livestock maintenance. Together they wrote a self-help book called “Receiving Love: Transform Your Relationship by Letting Yourself be Loved”. But beyond that, both Harville and Helen on their personal websites make no mention of Hunter or Leah; just saying that they have “six children and live in [various places, depending on which parent’s website you ask].”

And then, at last, confirmation, on page 94 of the 20th anniversary re-release of Harville Hendrix’s “Getting the Love You Need”.

What are the implications of this?
1) I don’t want to indiscriminately demonize the wealthy at all, especially as I am a fan of Liturgy and I appreciate Leah’s passion for the Occupy movement, but I do find it immensely interesting in the context of black metal itself, which has always been a traditional working- to middle-class brand of music. Fuck, Wolves in the Throne Room live in a damn forest.

2) Most of Hunter’s relations run the trend toward hardcore Christianity. I’ve always felt the need to gloss over Liturgy’s clearly spiritualist undertones, and I had deep concerns that it was legitimately a Christian band. “Aesthetica” has two crosses on its cover – the traditional Jesus cross and the inverted St Peter’s cross – and their first EP is very obviously meant to invoke heaven; it’s just rolling clouds in a sky lit by sunlight. Furthermore, that EP is called “Immortal Life“, one of the signature positives apparently offered by belief in Jesus. Their follow-up full-length album is called “Renihilation“, which I guess can be read as either “re-annihilate” OR a portmanteau – which, if I know anything about the cleverness of Brooklyn hipsters, is more likely – of “renew” and “annihilate” , which is precisely what the Bible purports happened to Jesus before his alleged ascension. If you have a moment to look at their lyrics, I suspect you’ll agree that Liturgy seems to have pulled a fast one on its fans seeking purer black metal; that is, black metal without a Christian stain.

3) There appears to be an element of shame shared between both parents and son. Liturgy has been a remarkably polarizing band with nearly enough potential to be called a game-changer in black metal. You would think either of Hunter’s parents would acknowledge its cultural success in a public venue. And after profiles in Pitchfork, the New Yorker, the New York Times, and the Village Voice – the publications that immediately come to mind, but there are doubtless many more – Hunter has never mentioned his history, or his Christian upbringing.

4) I don’t want to imply that Christians can’t or shouldn’t make secular, atheist, Christian, or even Satanic black metal. It’s not like my own background – it was only a year or two after my Bar Mitzvah that I first discovered the likes of Burzum and Mayhem – would have been accepted in the early Norwegian scene either. But I do think that, because Liturgy draws from blank-slate religious themes and employs religious iconography in their work, they should be more upfront about which way those generalized religious themes skew. There is also the question of authenticity here; as with the religious scheme, coming from money (and oil money, at that) is I think, unprecedented to black metal, but I also don’t want to imply it should preclude Hunter’s legitimacy as an artist.

My issue is not that Liturgy is likely a Christian black metal band but that, for all the words Hunter has expended on Liturgy’s ideology and meaning, HHH has been reluctant to share that particular information.”

And with that, should Hunter see this article, Zack and I both invite him to entertain our curiosity. Post comments below.

– Jared Oates Haggard (Letter by Zack Sigel)

Let’s Talk About Death Metal in 2011 by orlandooom407

2011 was a hell of a year for metal all around. Fairweather fans and die-hards alike found a lot to be happy about (and a few things to be overly upset about.) For a lot of people that meant demanding workman’s comp for Morbid Angel‘s little industrial accident. For me it meant spending far too long cursing a certain “black metal” band from Brooklyn and their supporters for deciding black metal was music for basement-dwelling would-be Nazis which needed to be transcended. But enough of my well thought out and completely understandable hate of Litugy

Instead, I’m going to talk about death metal.

Death metal, I often feel, is metal’s most deliberately misunderstood subgenre. To your mainstream and  “indie” music observers, black metal and more Neurosis-esque derivatives of sludge and doom metal have gained a certain amount of praise, attention and (shockingly) understanding. This attention and praise from reviewers with less-than-heavy taste in music has always seemed to evade death metal. It would seem that death metal still gets branded as a gimmicky genre, full of gore, misogyny, and a bunch of knuckle-dragging idiots making cookie-monster noises.

In fact, even amongst a lot of metal fans, there are still those uninitiated into the wonderful, wide-reaching, and weird variety of death metal to be released this year. You might be fooled into believing death metal is going through some sort of dryspell if one looks only at the bevy of generic melodeath, computer-generated shredding, and what (sadly) passes for “popular” death metal nowadays. But as always, the underground is there waiting for you, ready to console you with new discoveries.

In the absence of such an article, here are just a few of 2011’s best death metal releases:

AntediluvianThrough the Cervix of Hawaah (Profound Lore)

Antediluvian’s Through the Cervix of Hawaah came as somewhat of a surprise for many death metal fans in 2011. It’s not that Antediluvian hadn’t released any material prior to this year, it’s that Through the Cervix of Hawaah is the most solidified manifestation of the band’s musical efforts to date. Imagine Antediluvian as the bastard spawn of bestial black metal, bizarre technicality, and dirty ancient death metal. Every other reviewer with a blog and a certain sort of thought often compared to an asshole felt the need to compare this to Portal or Mitochondrion, but for what it’s worth I don’t find those comparisons helpful sound-wise (though I’m sure fans of the aforementioned bands will lap this up.) If anything, Antediluvian are definitely more death metal than either of the above, knowing when less is more for their approach. This sensibility is something that makes the band unique, they can harness a technical sense, while at the same time maintaining an attacking speed connecting them to the larger Canadian black/death sound.

Encoffination – O’ Hell, Shine in Thy Whited Sepulchres (Blood Harvest Records)

Remember that time you put a record on the wrong speed? At 45 rpm it was good, but knocking down the speed to 33 created the ugliest, slowest sound you’d ever heard. If in that moment you wished someone would create a band that mimicked that feeling of, Encoffination would be the living manifestation of that wish. This band is a project between the guitarist and drummer of Father Befouled, playing the slowest, doomiest death metal imaginable, bordering on funeral doom, and informed by frontman Ghoat‘s experience as a mortician (which you can read all about in a piece on Invisible Oranges.) Encoffination manage to do something incredibly rare, which is to slow death metal to a crawl without giving ground to other styles – this is unmistakably death metal (albeit in slow motion.) The atmosphere is dominated by lurching guitars, vocals from beyond the grave, and the sense that when you’re crawling towards the inevitable, there is no purpose to be in a hurry to get there. The result is not unlike the death metal equivalent of Khanate‘s approach to doom metal – stripped down to the elementary parts, then pushed to the limits of human effort. Interested? Luckily, in an ironic contrast to their take on death metal, Encoffination show no sign of slowing down, with six releases in the last two years, and the participation of both members in numerous other projects.

Mitochondrion – Parasignosis (Profound Lore)

Of the bands on my list, Canada’s Mitochondrion are the only one I’ve had the pleasure of seeing live. Their sparsely-lit set was one of the highlights of Rites of Darkness III, shocking the uninitiated by looking like Blasphemy, yet sounding like nothing of this earth. It was for this very reason that I was filled with dread at the prospect of writing about Mitochondrion’s 2011 sophomore release. The fact is that describing the contents of Parasignosis is difficult because there is little to no precedent for the band’s sound. Usually the Portal comparisons are popular, and while the bands definitely share an obscure approach to death and black metal, there’s honestly not all that much common ground here. The music here is dissonant, meandering technical death metal blended with black metal. I’m beyond words to describe the sound, but I have a comparison that might work for some of you. Parasignosis is a bit like a film with a non-linear plot – without seeing for yourself, it all can appear intimidatingly esoteric, and unabashedly obscure  – and even a listen might leave you more confused than ever. But, if you’re like me, you appreciate this kind of depth in a record. It can’t be simply explained, it can’t be pigeon-holed, but when it suddenly becomes clear it hooks you. The songtitle ‘Trials’ is a reference point here: this record is a trial – a reward for the intrepid listener, for the daring.


– Sean McDonnell

Wildernessking – The Writing of Gods in the Sand by orlandooom407

I can now successfully scratch “listen to black metal from South Africa” off of my bucket list. Big thanks to Antithetic Records for providing me with this delectable preview copy. Now before the comment box floods with all the bands from South Africa I haven’t heard let me take some time to point out just how Wildernessking‘s debut stands out from their other hypothetical African black metal competition. Before I delve into my review, I have to ask this necessary rhetorical: What the fuck is going on in this album cover? I do see the conspicuous horse head erupting from whatever this clusterfuck of smoke, foliage, and flying magical owl blood but I’m not sure what to make of this. Maybe this is the final product when gods write in sand?

These dudes don’t waste any time hurling you straight into their tremolo fueled fervor. Following a lengthy tortured wail from bassist/vocalist Keenan Nathan Oakes the gate unto madness flings wide open. The first track, titled “Rubicon” distinguishes exactly why Wildernessking doesn’t bother to uncompound their name: they’re way too focused on practicing to pay mind to grammatical nuances. I found myself immediately buffeted by spiteful rhetorical wails, devastating blasts and metallic 6/8 time variations less than two minutes in. This record definitely saturates the listener’s comfort zone with blackened force feeding before they’re generous enough to let one seek solace in slower segues. As the pace slowed down, I didn’t feel anticipation from any kind of foreshadowing but rather that I heard a changes that immediately reminded me of Drudkh. The song then turned took a turn for the atmospheric by temporarily spacing out riding a delay soaked lick into that familiar Alcest style riffing. This device is consistent throughout the record, but it’s everything but a shallow tribute.

Scattered piano samples are compiled toward climactic points which makes each following conclusion and/or deconstruction into the wavering verbed out staccatos that introduce the next leg of the journey. This record could take me weeks to digest and evaluate entirely so I won’t waste anyone’s valuable listening time with a tempting tangent. I will say that Wildernessking harnesses the ethereal tones of a blackened record that still possesses enough conscious direction to embrace subtlety and unbridled loathing within the same track. I cannot shake how much Keenan almost sounds like Hunter from Liturgy, but I feel like he surpasses him when in conjunction with a more elaborate example of variety in song writing. These songs are not driven by blasts non-stop, the staggering moments away from the incomprehensible bludgeoning are the most ear catching. Some portions even feel like they’d fit right alongside a Black Breath riff.

This record holds you beneath the water, sharing no regard for tolerance thresholds, and any beginner to black metal would probably discover difficulty digesting this one. This record won’t change your life (what debut releases do?), but if you prefer your metal of a more blackened and sparingly “posty” persuasion this quartet outdistances cheap imitators. I’m very excited for future releases, and I’d be pleasantly surprised should a US/European tour formulate at some point. This LP is due out this month without a definite release date, keep them on your Facebook feed for updates!

Way to rep South Africa dudes. \m/ \m/

Click here for a preview of The Writing of Gods in the Sand on Wildernessking’s Bandcamp page.

Click here to check out Wildernessking on Facebook.

– Jared Oates Haggard

Black Muddle; or Why “Transcendental Black Metal” Doesn’t Really Exist by orlandooom407

I hate music journalism, and if you’re anything like me, you do too. To paraphrase an old maxim: “Those who can’t make music, write about it.” Gone are the days of Lester Bangs, and a whole generation of critics are trying desperately to “do” something new or different, and by “do” I mean “find”. Everyone wants to unearth that obscure gem that everyone else ignored and elevate it to a cosmic plane removed from the music consuming public whom they usually despise.

So why this rant? What point am I trying to get at?

Liturgy. For a long while now, this “transcendental black metal” band (their words, not mine)have been receiving coverage from indie publications and even a few larger ones. But why Liturgy? Why all the attention focused on a band, who by all accounts have only existed for a short period of time – one which is completely disproportionate to the amount of attention (both positive and negative) directed their way? Maybe it’s the presence of a frontman, who despite a name so eerily close to a certain professional wrestler, seems to have weighty musical and (apparently) philosophical ambitions.

It is, and has been, my opinion that the attention devoted to Liturgy in music press (and by some weekend-warrior fans of heavy music) is directly related to the band’s purposeful distancing from the style of music they purport to play. Black metal is a genre which has always attracted a lot of outside attention, due mostly to the crimes associated with the Norwegian black metal scene of the early 1990s. Almost every feature on black metal in a mainstream or “independent” publication uselessly mentions the scene’s association with Satanism, murder, or corpsepaint insisting somehow that black metal is solely a Scandinavian import – ignoring American contributions to black metal entirely (Profanatica anyone?). Take for example this quote from a recent New Yorker piece:

“But now American bands such as Liturgy, Krallice, Absu, Leviathan, Wolves in the Throne Room, and Inquisition have left a fair amount of the pageantry behind—not to mention the violence—and helped to create a community, as well as a musical moment that is rife with activity.

Let’s break this trash heap down: pageantry left behind? Inquisition and Absu still use the corpse paint that so many mock; Wrest of Leviathan is currently embroiled in a legal battle; none of the above bands are worried about “creating a community” – Absu and Inquisition are known for the limited number of shows they play on American soil, Wolves in the Throne Room are recluses who have openly declared that they have accomplished their project and are moving on to new ones, and Leviathan is a one man-band that has NEVER played live.

Going further: this sentence is the article’s last mention of Absu, Krallice, Leviathan, and Inquisition. It goes on to mention only Liturgy and Wolves in the Throne Room. Is Liturgy even black metal?

No, the style of music Liturgy plays is obviously INFLUENCED by black metal while remaining outside of the genre in most senses of the word. Both WITTR and Krallice play a style of black metal descending not from Norway, but from the United States. They have been referred to as the direct lineage of the legendary USBM band Weakling, with WITTR simplifying the sound into ambient territory, and Krallice complicating it into more technical territory.

Liturgy, in comparison to the above bands, sound like a sad imitation of the style. More than a few people have remarked on the quality Liturgy has to sound muddled – almost like two bands playing at the same time. This cacophony of sounds in and of itself doesn’t make black metal, and neither do “burst beats” which the band proclaim to play. Call it experimental, call it noise, but it isn’t black metal.

A genre is, if nothing else, a discrete and conscious stylistic limitation. If you want to transcend a genre, perhaps the last thing you should be concerned with is maintaining that genre’s name.

In a sense, the spirit of black metal is one which understands that it is not trying to transcend the bounds of the genre – it is the worship of the elder gods, the tribute to those past, a reverence for musical tradition. The darkness in the music IS the genre, not a limitation as Liturgy seem to think.

What Liturgy do represents a negation of the idea of black metal, which exists as a conscious limitation of style. When you try to place yourself both inside and outside of a particular style, don’t complain that you aren’t being accepted and instead say you are transcending it. In fact, abandoning is a better word for what the band does. Hunter Hunt-Hendrix is a man who wants to have his cake and eat it too, and I’m here to tell him for the first time in his life that he can’t have whatever he wants.

Keep making music, but don’t piss on our music and tell us a hard rain is coming.

– Sean McDonnell