- Who the Hell is labeling these bands as Black Metal?
- What the Hell about these bands are so irredeemably terrible as to generate such vitriol against them?
And so far, both off those seemingly important questions have remained unanswered. It is a predicament that has left me with only one real option: listen to a lot of “Hipster Black Metal” and come up with my own damn opinion: an opinion that up until my time with Liturgy’s Aesthehtica has been a very positive one. After Liturgy’s Aesthethica, my cool has been damaged. Aesthethica helps me understand my second question a little bit more.
Lets get the positive out of the way right off the bat, because there is some positive to be found. There are some really, really cool individual riffs on this album. The dudes in this band clearly know how to play their instruments and clearly love dissonance as much as I do. Liturgy are not afraid to experiment and do not fear creativity, two qualities that is not common enough in today’s Metal scene. A lot has been made about the bands views on Black Metal, and issue I am not going to bother discussing, but I will say this for Hunter Hunt-Hendrix and Co.: they are fearless, and Aesthethica is a monument to the bands fearlessness.
It is also a testament to the bands arrogance and pretentiousness. Aesthethica is wealthy with ideas and barren of anything to keep these ideas from being utterly useless. Imagine a leg with no tendons; a book without a binding. Aesthethica feels like a recorded jam session: impromptu, herking and jerking to and fro, occasionally thrilling but mostly filled with throw-away material not worth remembering outside the heat of the moment. It is not hard to draw parallels between Liturgy and The Dave Mathews Band, which might be the most “insane-like-a-fox” thing I have ever had the (dis)pleasure to type. But the more time I spent with the amorphous blob of something vaguely Black Metal that is Aesthethica, the more that comparison makes total sense. Also, both bands feature some of the most horrid vocals ever recorded, which just makes the whole situation that much sadder.
And as with every one of these albums I have reviewed so far, I have a hard time with classifying this album as Black Metal. Is shrieking vocals and tremolo picking all that is needed to slap the Black Metal label on a band now? Aesthethica does have it’s moments where is sounds kind of like Black Metal, but the often cheery arrangements evoke a very positive sound. “Returner” sounds more like a Converge on anti-depressants, while “Glory Bronze” starts with an upbeat intro that for some fucking reason reminded me of Green Day played at inhuman speed. That song later heads into one of the most Black Metal sounding arrangements on the album, but the intro of the song could be a Weezer hit if the band slowed it down from warp speed. Yeah, I did just write that.
Aesthethica represents the dark side of unbridled creativity: when self-absorbed and self-serving experimentation destroys self-editing and common sense, it often creates something that can’t stay grounded because it is too insubstantial. Aesthethica stands up to listening like a whisp of smoke stands up to a stiff breeze, and leaves about the same impression on the world around it. I give Liturgy points for their effort, but Aesthethica is the kind of wasted musical effort that comes about when the only people the band are trying to impress are themselves.