Liturgy is a Brooklyn-based, self-styled “Transcendental Black Metal” band whose yearning, energetic music exists in an uncanny space between avant rock, black metal, fine art and shamanic ritual. Led by songwriter and conceptual architect Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, who is joined by guitarist Bernard Gann, bassist Tyler Dusenbury and drummer Greg Fox, the band exists as a 21st century total work of art (gesamtkunstwerk): activating divine potencies by means of music and culture even as it underscores the contradictions inherent in such a project during the internet era.
Their third full length, The Ark Work, which is out on Thrill Jockey March 24, is a quantum leap forward, a radical change in sound that paradoxically sounds more like Liturgy than ever. NPR today premiered the first track from them, saying “”Quetzalcoatl” is a good representation of where Liturgy stands in 2015: Hunt-Hendrix has ditched shrieks in favor of chants that channel, well, Orthodox liturgical singing. Bassist Tyler Dusenbury and drummer Greg Fox (Zs, Guardian Alien) have returned to the fold, but at times, The Ark Work feels like it was composed with a drum machine in mind; it’s rigorous and detached, even as Fox thwacks “Quetzalcoatl” wide open with gunshot snares. Then there are the purposefully fake-sounding MIDI strings, which soar like the climax to The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight,” heightening Hunt-Hendrix’s ecstatic guitar shred. It’s anything but black metal, which just might be the point.”