Are we at the point of acknowledging the genre “hipster black metal”? It seems the American take on BM has been maligned with the dreaded “hipster” put-down. Krallice, Xasthur, Nachtmystium, and Wolves in the Throne room receive derision from the black metaler-than-thou. Does mass acceptance (relatively speaking) of an underground band negate its validity?

Beyond the Magic Forest

The worst thing any music fan can do is let semantics and internet shit talk get in the way of a great record. Brooklyn’s Liturgy receives praise from the indie rock sect and scorn from some metal quarters. Nevertheless, their debut is a potent and sometimes imaginative interpretation of classic black metal.

Any band attempting the speed of Transilvanian Hunger had better have a drummer who can blast, and Greg Fox delivers. He operates at superhuman velocities, as if a TR-909 were wired to his heart. His snare and kick patterns are nearly indistinguishable but unbelievably precise. Meanwhile guitarists Hunter Hunt-Hendrix and Bernard Gann incorporate swelling octaves and ringing arpeggios. At their finest, the guitars harmonize into a shimmering wall of dark beauty, as on the title track and “Beyond the Magic Forest.”

Liturgy adds considerable depth with stop/starts throughout the songs, and intermissions to break up the blitzes. The band’s daring isn’t flawless. A few choral chants come off like cheap Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan knock-offs. The untitled seventh track is a truncated though compelling guitar piece. Had Liturgy developed these experiments into songs, they’d have served a stronger purpose. Despite these missteps, this is a formidable record from a promising band.

– Casey Boland

Amazon (CD)
Amazon (MP3)
eMusic (MP3)
20 Buck Spin (CD)

Liturgy are on tour until the end of this month. See dates here.