Liturgy’s new album, The Ark Work, sounds like a glorious apocalypse of orchestral thrash. The self-described “Transcendental Black Metal” group (Wut? Read this insane treatise from frontman Hunter Hunt-Hendrix ) has graduated from the brutal battery of wailing guitar riffs and blast beats and onto an eerily pretty, though still entropy-fueled, form of black metal.
In Hendrix’s head, and to the chagrin of some black metal purists, the music Liturgy makes as a metal band dismisses the traditionally satanic aspects of the genre in favor of the idea of spiritual ascendence. Though the band’s philosophy is at times esoteric and exhausting, one idea that resonates conceptually and practically is that of finding beauty in liminal, transitional places–whether that be the negative space that separates one musical genre from another, or the weirdly mystical interstices between states of matter (Hendrix references the transition from solid to liquid to gas in his essay above). Having introduced a new inventory of instruments (bagpipes, glockenspiel, and strings among them) to their song-crafting, the band has cracked their sonics wide open, allowing new forms of chaos and disruption to embolden their already anarchic sound. And yet, the band always manages to find the prettiest parts of ugliness in the process, so that it feels like we are witnessing them sublimate in real time.
Channeling this idea of beautiful chaos into his 6-track Spotify playlist, Hendrix included artists that span classical, hip-hop, avant-garde noise, and industrial, but don’t concretely fall into any one of those categories. The common thread in this truly unnerving and adrenalized playlist is that all these artists sound like they are trying to make sense of the amorphous by splicing together different nerve endings of several genres’ nervous systems. The result is a seemingly paradoxical idea of something being at once grotesque and pretty.
This concept also applies to Hendrix’s sorta-gross image that he provided for the cartoon portion of the mix. What could be the jelly and sugar remnants of donut on a golden plate might also be a bloody, sliced up appendage in a trash bin. I guess it’s the uncertainty and mildly disgusting weirdness that is the most compelling aspect.