With its pagan motif and black-metal cloudbursts, Liturgy’s 2009 debut, Renihilation, hinted at a heaviness that aspired to the elemental. But with the new Aesthethica, the Brooklyn quartet trades raw atmosphere for a keener, shinier edge. Gilded in chrome instead of cast in iron, the disc is much less roughhewn and guttural than its predecessor; even its most aggressive cut, “Generation,” hums with subatomic melody and brittle ambiance. Still, Aesthethica carries plenty of Renihilation’s momentum, particularly in the monastic chants of “True Will” and Hunter Hunt-Hendrix’s scar-tongued lamentations throughout. But the singer-guitarist, along with guitarist Bernard Gann, bassist Tyler Dusenbury, and blast-wielding drummer Greg Fox, bring far more nuance and dynamism to their unearthly blur on tracks like “Tragic Laurel”—with its Krallice-like hive of droned counterpoint—and the surprisingly doom-ridden instrumental “Veins Of God,” which lumbers thunderously across Mastodon’s pasture. Despite slight nods to some of their peers, though, Hunt-Hendrix and crew are forging further along their own path, refining a symphonic minimalism that draws more from Glenn Branca than Wolves In The Throne Room. It’s bleak, granted, but there’s a Spartan exultation that remains fixed on the light at the end of the apocalypse. Stacked against its predecessor, Aesthethica feels less like metal—black, post-, or otherwise—and more like Liturgy. And in this case, that’s a great thing.
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