Liturgy Evolves Further on New Surprise EP, “As the Blood of God Bursts the Veins of Time” (Review)
Liturgy surprised their fans today with the release of a new EP, As the Blood of God Bursts the Veins of Time. Within two tracks, the EP revels in both exultant black metal and glitchy folk as well as continuing the band’s maximalist inclinations.
When Ravenna Hunt-Hendrix introduced the concept of “transcendental black metal” to the world over a decade ago, she was immediately met with derision from the more purist factions of the black metal fandom. During that time, the genre was going through something of a metamorphosis–hardcore and indie enthusiasts were integrating themselves within the community, mainstream publications were putting their weight behind certain bands, and newfound scenes were sprouting up all over–so disgruntled paritioners of the black metal orthodoxy did what they could to villify any act that dared to openly challenge the style’s hallowed ethos.
To the critics' credit, despite both of Liturgy’s albums at the time–2009's Renihilation and 2011's Aesthethica--being quite good, their departure from conventional black metal sonics was tenuous at best, certainly nothing to be titled as resplendently as transcendental. Then, in 2019, Liturgy released H.A.Q.Q. and rewrote the narrative; it was a record that more closely aligned with the nomer Hunt-Hendrix had hailed the band under those many years before. While 2020's Origin of the Alimonies was more a pivot into abstract and orchestral black metal-adjacent soundscapes, the band's newest EP As The Blood of the God Bursts the Veins of Time is the spiritual successor to H.A.Q.Q.'s regal compositions and a perpetuation of Liturgy's ceaseless evolutionary process.
Hunt-Hendrix knows how to pack a song without the end result feeling cluttered. "93696" is an extremely dense track that often finds itself alternating between a myriad of stylistic diversions. Black metal sections are melodic and well-adorned with (literal) bells and whistles, broken up by moments of stuttering electronics and then elongated by blown-out post-hardcore guitars. On paper that all may sound scattered, but the song is held together by Hunt-Hendrix's exuberance which manifests aurally in the song's closing minutes as her penchant for classical excursions frames the track in beautiful and bombastic orchestrations.
On the other hand, "संसार" is a much softer number, but not necessarily more subdued. Though it begins as a quaint folk tune, it's quickly warped by digital manipulation, Hunt-Hendrix's howls overtaken by sputtering modulations and robotic backing vocals. Despite its complete absence of black metal, it’s a song that feels like it encapsulates what Liturgy is more than any other in their discography.
The two songs on As the Blood of God Bursts the Veins of Time serve as purest distillations of Ravenna Hunt-Hendrix's artistic ambition yet. She is a musician who is always reaching for something greater, and if her music with Liturgy hasn’t grasped true transcendence yet, it’s well on its way to doing so.
"93696" is also an alternate version of the title track of Liturgy's upcoming album of the same name, due March 24 via Thrill Jockey.
As the Blood of God Bursts the Veins of Time releases today via Thrill Jockey Records.