The contemporary world of metal is a funny place. It's a vast, deep musical genre in which some of the most creative expression is currently happening. At the same time, especially in its more obscure ends, it's one still strongly tied to traditions, rules, and even specific costumes. Mess with those in any way and risk ostracism.
This is a condition that's plagued Liturgy, a three-piece from New York whose sound, at least, hews to the majestic, sublime forms of black metal. Liturgy is fast, overpowering, and based on riffs and chord progressions so discordant that they become almost pretty in an almost jazz-like way. However, that's where all their similarities with the rest of the subgenre end.
Black metal is arcane and highly misunderstood, seen as a ghoulish but nerdy thing for guys in makeup. This is partially true, which is why Liturgy, looking like -- gasp! -- normal dudes has since nearly the beginning of its existence enraged the diehard black-metal orthodoxy.
That's just too bad for those guys. Liturgy is a rare extreme metal band that can appeal to people who aren't necessarily fans of extreme metal. By stripping away all the spiky pretense, what that leaves is the raw power of the band's sound.
Yes, frontman Hunter Hunt-Hendrix has given some internet-infamous interviews that quote philosophy and seemed designed to cram in SAT words. Who cares? Crank up Aesthetica, his band's debut album for Thrill Jockey, and get beautifully crushed.
All right, so all of that has seemed, for now, the requisite explanation and disclaimer behind Liturgy, which is why we loved so much Pitchfork's recent edition of Brandon Stosuy's "Show No Mercy" column. In it, Stosuy calls for a new tabula rasa in discussing Liturgy and the few other current bands of its ilk. Let's just consider the bands on their own terms, he argues, rather than going through the tiresome motions of comparing them to their infamously murderous Norwegian counterparts from decades past.
That works for us. It still remains to be seen, though, how Liturgy will be digested by South Florida audiences when the band plays a pair of shows in the area, at Revolution on February 13 and at Grand Central the following day. They're slated to open at Revolution for Sleigh Bells and at Grand Central for Sleigh Bells and Diplo.
Big-earringed girls coming to admire Alexis Krauss' bangs in Sleigh Bells may not know what to make of pasty screaming guys, but maybe there will be some new converts in the crowd. Either way, the shows should make for an amazing audience mix that guarantees excellent people-watching.
In advance of the shows, check out Liturgy's latest video, below, for the song "True Will." It debuted on Pitchfork in conjunction with Stosuy's column and features nary a single image of a lonely, overcast forest.
Liturgy, with Sleigh Bells. 8 p.m. Saturday, February 11, at Revolution, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $27 with fees. Click here.
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