live review: liturgy
Since Liturgy is one of the country’s most divisive black-metal bands, we had two members of our editorial team weigh in on their Knitting Factory show last night in Brooklyn. Here’s what they had to say, along with a link to our interview with frontman Hunter Hunt-Hendrix…
Maris Kreizman, Audiobooks Editor:
I remember being mesmerized as a kid by those old shampoo commercials featuring Brooke Shields swinging her lustrous mane back and forth. Oh, how I longed to stroke that soft, shiny hair. I got that same feeling last night in the most unlikely of places: a black metal show. Last night, Joe, Andrew, Jayson and I headed to the Knitting Factory in Williamsburg for Liturgy’s record release show. If you’re a regular reader of 17 Dots, you’ve seen plenty of discussion of this band: their stellar musicianship rooted in classical training, their philosophically driven lyrics, their crossover appeal from metal to the indie rock crowd. Now, I am not the most qualified to discuss the complexity of their music or their metal cred, but I can say this: frontman Hunter Hunt-Hendrix has the most beautiful–and cleanest-looking–hair of any Brooklyn musician I’ve ever seen, let alone a metal dude. He looks like a Disney prince come to life and turned evil.
Maybe that explains some of Liturgy’s crossover success: they look like an average indie band, but they rock like the most Satanic of metalheads. They don’t need candelabras or masks or rotting pig carcasses (I’m looking at you, Watain) to seem delightfully scary. Hunt-Hendrix doesn’t even go for a bombastic snarl or a sneer as he delivers his high-pitched vocals–he just opens his mouth and lets the shrieks unfurl. The sheer physicality of their performance was startling. Just a bunch of guys in regular clothes, unleashing all sorts of fury on their instruments and onto the crowd.
Jayson Greene, International Editor:
At this point, I basically need to shut up about Liturgy. Lots of office conversations are one thing — and Joe and I have had many — but then you add multiple 17dots posts, a Pitchfork review, and contributions few too many discussion threads, and you have dangerous over-saturation of Jayson Talking About Liturgy. After this post, I am going to take a yearlong vow of Liturgy silence, retreating into the caves to listen to nothing but Behexen’s My Soul For His Glory.
That said: Last night was a sort of mini-culmination of my recent obsession. It’s an obsession borne of a phenomenal record, one of the year’s best and most fearlessly creative by any stripe. Live, they did not even remotely disappoint. Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, he of the above-mentioned cascading locks, weirdly twee onstage demeanor (I think “Tweelzebub” was my best groaner pun last night) and absurdly Byzantine theoretical conceits, stayed true to his expressed goal of making Liturgy live shows “as mind-blowing as [they]can be” — the control over their staggeringly complex, lightspeed compositions was Olympian. Their are an unabashedly ecstatic live band, one that aims for the same sort of communal body-shedding epiphany moment that rave sets or, uh, jam bands, are constructed from. Their drummer, Greg Fox, is one of the most exhilaratingly physical drummers I’ve seen onstage in a long time; he’s a more recent addition, and he is, to my ears, the transformative element that make Liturgy capital-G Great these days. I didn’t really ever think I needed them to stop playing “Generation.”