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Liturgy is an experimental Black Metal band from Brooklyn, NY. Or maybe not. Of all the many divisive bands in the fractious world of black metal, Liturgy are almost certainly the biggest. Part of this is due to frontman Hunter Hunt-Hendrix's habit of trolling fans expertly (his "transcendental black metal" manifesto seems specifically designed to fuck with the black metal fandom's heads), and part of it is due to their music, which was never typical black metal and has gotten more atypical on each release. Some of this is because many of the band's influences aren't exactly typical black metal fare - they've cited Swans, Lightning Bolt, and Glenn Branca as influences - and some of it's just because Hunt-Hendrix seems completely unwilling to conform to expectations of what a black metal band should be.

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Despite the polarised reception Liturgy's music has gotten amongst the black metal fandom, the band's sophomore effort Aesthethica was well received in the mainstream press. The band's third effort, The Ark Work, was a conscious attempt to move away from black metal (because Aesthethica's reception "turns [black metal] into safe territory"), and has received an even more polarised reception, with multiple reviewers outright accusing the band of trolling their audience. Despite this, the reaction in the mainstream press, such as The AV Club, The New York Times and NPR, has once again been mostly positive.

It should go without saying that mentioning Liturgy, either positively or negatively, on some forums is instant Flame Bait.

Oh, and they appeared on The Blacklist, with Peter Fonda on drums.

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Members

  • Hunter Hunt-Hendrix - vocals, guitar
  • Bernard Gann - guitar
  • Greg Fox - drums
  • Tyler Dusenbury - bass

Discography

  • 2008 - Immortal Life (EP)
  • 2009 - Renihilation
  • 2011 - Split with Oval
  • 2011 - Aesthethica
  • 2015 - The Ark Work

Tropes

  • Album Intro Track: The first "Untitled" from Renihilation and "Fanfare" from The Ark Work.
  • Avant-Garde Metal: As of The Ark Work, there really isn't any other way to describe them. Hell, even the metal part's up in the air.
  • Breather Episode: The untitled tracks on Renihilation are structured as this, as are songs on later albums like "Helix Skull", "Glass Earth", and "Haelegen".
  • Epic Rocking: Frequently on Aesthethica and The Ark Work, as well as the split with Oval, Liturgy's side of which consists of a single, untitled track that approaches twenty minutes in length. Apart from that, "Reign Array" from The Ark Work stands out at ten and a half minutes long (eleven and a half on some releases, depending on where the transition from "Haelegen" is marked), and they have quite a few other songs that top seven minutes in length.
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  • Genre-Busting/Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: If the band's earlier work doesn't qualify, The Ark Work definitely does. It's almost certainly the first album to attempt a synthesis of Black Metal, IDM, hardstyle, glitch, and Hip-Hop. One thing even its detractors have to admit is that there is nothing else in recorded music history that sounds like it.
  • Good Counterpart: The goal of the band as stated in Hunter Hunt-Hendrix's infamous manifesto is essentially to be this to normal black metal, using elements of the genre like tremolo picking and blast beats to express growth and life rather than decay and death.
  • Hidden Track: The CD of Aesthethica contains one. It is omitted from the LP version, which instead features an extended coda to "Veins of God".
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Even when he's singing, it's often very difficult to decipher what Hunt-Hendrix is saying. When he's screaming, forget it.
  • Instrumentals: They have several, such as "Haelegen", "Fanfare", "Generation", and "Veins of God". Others have only wordless vocals, such as "Untitled" from the split with Oval and "Harmonia".
  • Jump Scare: The first track on Aesthethica starts with about a minute of strange electronic clanging noises before suddenly erupting into burst beats, tremolo picking, and screaming.
  • Loudness War: Every album has a clipped master. This even extends to the vinyl version of at least Aesthethica.
  • Mind Screw: One major goal of the band with The Ark Work seems to have been to create one of these. Judging from the confounded reaction on the Internet, they succeeded at this.
  • Minimalism/Three Chords and the Truth: Several songs consist of only a handful of notes, a trait which has earned comparisons to Meshuggah and Steve Reich (the latter of whom was almost certainly more whom the band had in mind). The most obvious example is "Generation", which consists entirely of two notes (which are an octave apart, even!) for at least 80% of the song's duration. The singing on The Ark Work is also very exhibitive of this trope, with some of the sung melodies consisting almost entirely of a single note.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Early material may vary from around an 8 to around a 10. The Ark Work and the Oval split are mostly in the 7-8 range, due to the lack of Harsh Vocals. And all of this is talking purely about the band's metal work; there are Breather Episodes that dip lower or, in some cases, sit outside the scale entirely.
  • New Sound Album: The Ark Work experiments with glitch, hip-hop, IDM, and hardstyle elements. There are still traces of black metal (there are still plenty of blast beats and tremolo picking), but there are no Harsh Vocals.
  • No Title: Four tracks on Renihilation are untitled, as is Liturgy's side of their split with Oval.
  • Scatting: "Harmonia", "Untitled" from the Oval split, some of the interludes on Renihilation.
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: Hunter Hunt-Hendrix does this frequently. "Glass Earth" is just a collage of different vocal tracks synced up to create an effect like a choir.
  • Soprano and Gravel: Renihilation and Aesthethica alternate the traditional Harsh Vocals of black metal with some weird chanting. The latter of these is the sole vocal style on The Ark Work and the Oval split, while Immortal Life mostly just uses the Harsh Vocals.
  • Subdued Section: Many of their metal songs have them.
  • Uncommon Time: "Vitriol" is in 7/8. Other Liturgy songs utilise this trope as well, such as "Sun of Light" and "Veins of God".
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Some of their lyrics read this way.

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