I'm going to start this review a little differently than what everyone else has been doing. I'm sure anyone reading this knows about all the negative publicity surrounding Liturgy including the hilariously embarrassing interview and the "Transcendental Black Metal
Manifesto", oh, these have already been broadcasted enough on the web. Instead, I'm going to start off by saying how much of a god damn mess this album is.
I'm not entirely sure how Liturgy managed to write something like this as the whole album is completely all over the place. Whilst being labeled as black metal, that term is grossly misapplied and Aesthethica
would be much better regarded as a progressive metal album with math rock and trace black metal touches. It's not a black metal album, not really, and thus should not be reviewed as such. If I was going into this album with the mindset that this is indeed a black metal album, this would get the lowest possible score. The music is way too technical for its own good, the sound is far too polished and it lacks the negativity that black metal revels in. Even the band themselves stated that "we don't write negative music and we don't wear corpse music".
Whilst it is easy to dwell so much on the negatives of Aesthethica
, there is a lot of positives to be had as well. As a progressive metal release, Aesthethica
gets a lot of stuff right. The music is suitably technical, with the drumming being a particular highlight. The music takes influences from a wide array of sources, including, but not limited to, math rock, djent, post hardcore/screamo and black metal. It's a very diverse album and one that is highly unique. However, the bands diversity functions as a double edged sword. On one hand, I commend the bands diversity and their courage to try something different. On the other, this album lacks one crucial ingredient; consistency. There's the pure djent of Generation to the 8-bit-esque electronic frenzy of Helix Skull
. The band certainly has a talent for blending many genres into one album, but, unlike bands who strive for similar goals such as maudlin of the Well, Liturgy's music is just far too confusing for its own good.
However, when the band is on, they really are on. The band is incredibly tight, as a fellow reviewer pointed out the band sounds as though they've been playing together for three or four decades. The band's flawless chemistry is the most important element of making Aesthethica
what it is. Even when the music decides to lurch in strange and unpredictable patterns, the band is tight. The drumming is really what knits the band together. With the self described "burst beat" coming into action, the drumming is highly innovative for what it is, and whilst I'm not one to write about drumming, the performance on Aesthethica
blew me away.
With such a fantastic drum performance there's a lot of pressure on the rest of the instrumentation to hold up to the standards to what the drums set. And
, of course, the instrumentation is more than satisfactory. Songs constantly shift, ebbing and flowing like the tides in an ocean. One such comparison to make with the structure and form of the music would be post metal titans Isis
, as the songs have a very organic and natural feel to them. Ironically, despite how forced the band seem to be, how overblown their ego is, the music itself never feels strained. I find it sad that a band who is more than capable of creating interesting and enjoyable progressive metal is bogged down by the childish claims of the frontman. I hate to break it to the band, but they are NOT reinventing black metal, they are merely creating a very good extreme progressive album that certainly doesn't deserve the crap flung at it.
's vocals are perhaps the most "black metal" element to this album. They're incredibly tortured and anguished yet triumphant and hopeful as well. The vocal performance, unlike the rest of the music, seems to lack structure and form. Coming off as an amorphous blob of incomprehensible wailing in comparison to the rest of the music, which as I mentioned before, is impeccably tight. But fuck me, the moaning sections the band adds now and again drive me completely insane. Glass Earth
is perhaps the worst offender, a completely useless and meaningless track that brings the momentum to a stand still.
So overall, I rather enjoyed this album. I certainly felt it sucked at being a black metal album, but from a strictly musical point, I really enjoyed it. Sure, some of the tracks leaving me scratching my head and the moaning sessions are annoying, but apart from several rough edges here and there, it's a good album. Of course, I'm not going to recommend this to black metal elitists as the sound is just so different. But for open minded metal fans who are looking for something a bit different, then this might be worth a look.