Aesthethica is the second full-length album from US black metal act Liturgy, which was released in 2011. The band consider their style as Transcendental Black Metal, but just to burst their bubble a bit here, that’s just another case of a band trying to give their music a fancy tag just to appear different. Actually, although this is some black metal qualities to this, it doesn’t really fit the mould either, and not in a good way.
Whatever you think about the way Liturgy looks, or about their ideology, surely any self-respecting metalhead knows that it’s the music that comes first. So I’m going to base this review on that, the outcome of the music alone. And no mention of the fact that this is considered ‘hipster’ black metal, except that one, of course.
So, the music. Where to begin? The album starts off with pure weirdness with High Gold, which gradually builds and builds until the point that it is just completely annoying, and then the band finally kicks off into a more metal sound. The music is fast, has something of a high pitched quality to it, and the vocals are completely incomprehensible, and the sound is extremely repetitive but I gather from what I’ve read of Liturgy that this was exactly the intention. If that sounds appealing to you then you can stop reading now, because I can guarantee that you are not going to appreciate the rest that I am going to have to say with this review.
2011 has in general been a mighty fine year for metal music. Only a few albums that have come my way have been, shall we say, less than subpar, and only one that I’d consider to be really bad. There was never anything that could be considered dismal though. Until now that is. This may just be the single-most worst album I have ever heard. I’m all for fast black metal made with the intent to create an atmosphere, but the atmosphere just isn’t here in this release. It’s completely monotonous and with the instruments almost completely drowning out the vocals, I don’t have a single clue just what the songs are even meant to be about. What makes matters even worse is that for the most part Liturgy have made their songs at least five minutes long, with several of them over or approaching seven minutes. If there was some variation then it might work, but the fact that there either isn’t, or very little if there is, makes this release a complete drag. It’s a long album too; I’d had enough of this by the fifth track but I forced myself to sit through it just to write this review. This album is only useful for the practice of ear torture, and it threatens to leave me in a vegetable state upon its conclusion.
I really wish I could find something positive to say about this album, but this one has been so painful to even get through to give it a fair go that I find absolutely nothing to praise. I guess you could give these guys a pat on the back for being able to play fast, but what is speed when there is no soul to the music? What use is the vocalist’s tortured growl when all it does is add additional noise to any already noisy output? And seriously, what is the deal with the funny noises like the start of High Gold and the entirety of Glass Earth? They add a little variation which is much needed, but that’s the only remotely positive thing that can be said of such parts, and then it’s through clenched teeth. The more I get into the album, the more I feel like this is the worst album I ever heard. Come back Amaranthe and Doctrine (aka my other really low rated 2011 albums as of this review, if you don’t get the reference), all is forgiven!
I normally try not to write a review in such a rant-like way, but I feel rather comatose after this one, and I’m going to need some serious therapy in order to get over this train wreck of an album. And I also normally wouldn’t even dream of giving a release as low a score as this, as there are usually a few redeeming qualities to note in an artist’s music even if you really don’t like the album, but Liturgy’s Aesthethica proves to be the exception to the rule. The only thing I’ve given it points for is that they showcase some different sounds and ideas in each track, but because they fail to really vary each track it just becomes completely boring. Really there is probably enough material in this over an hour release for one decent song but that’s about it, really, and even then it would have to be instrumental. Also take the vocals out and the release even loses what little it had of a black metal vibe. My recommendation? Avoid it like the plague.
(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven, scored at 0.5/10)