Liturgy - Renihilation (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Renihilation (2009)


You know what's bullshit? When bands are so lazy and unoriginal with their name that they take--for their own--the name of an already established band both within their own country and, even worse, within their own genre of music. The example here is that it necessitates any reference to this Liturgy as "the Brooklyn black metal band," not Liturgy "the Chicago death metal band." No one would be dumb enough to name their Long Island skatepunk band Pennywise, so why can't metalheads think of something new? Yeah, I know, there are two groups of Subhumans and a pair of Youth Brigades, but this was well before the internet in a time where such excuses could be legitimated. That's the first thing about this that pisses me off. The second is more inherent in the style but no less distracting.

I'll admit without shame I'm no scholar of black metal, but it's a little tedious being assaulted by an inexhaustible chain of blast beats song after song for 45 minutes. These compositions, almost by definition, start slow and boring (sometimes with the help of a precursor track of droning filler) and eventually build to cacophonous monotony, but they never really go anywhere. Liturgy (the Brooklyn black metal band, not the Chicago death metal band) is certainly no exception. The unnamed, opening droning track stretches to uncomfortably numbing lengths before "Pagan Dawn" (yes, that's really what it's called) hammers in. Jarring at first, after a minute of steady blast beat pummeling, it loses whatever menacing effect it first claimed and begins to mold into an immutable mass of noise. Vocalist Hunter Hunt-Hendrix shouts nothing coherent, which might not be a problem if there was a lyrics sheet to reference when lauding or lambasting whatever assuredly dark, evil poetics he puts to paper. The same formula of unnamed droning intro/intermissions is repeated throughout the album, from "Ecstatic Rite" to "Beyond the Magic Forest." The only real deviation is on "Arctica," which breaks down into a more measured meter and some semblance of multiplicity deep into the composition.

Reviews of Renihilation have ranged from hailing it as little short of a black metal masterpiece to dismissing it as ironic hipster garbage. Whatever the distinction, Liturgy (the Brooklyn black metal band, not the Chicago death metal band) has failed to produce anything moving on Renihilation.