Liturgy - 93696

07 May 2023 - Thorsten

Avantgarde | Black Metal | Thrill Jockey | Release date: 24 Mar 2023 | Favorite song: Haelegen II

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While listening to Liturgy’s new masterpiece 93696 one might encounter goosebumps of the fiercest kind, because the record is brilliant, well-crafted and pensive on the one side, and on the other side, the critics will say it’s too over-the-top. Fortunately I don’t consider myself a critic and simply enjoy the record in all its glory!

Comparisons are either hard to come by or way too blatantly ignorant in order to take them seriously because come on, whoever compares this record to My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade has never understood Liturgy before. Even though this record surely is a tiny bit over the top, one should take the concept behind the tracks into a strong consideration:

The 15 tracks of the record released by Thrill Jockey are split into four parts: ”Sovereignty”, “Hierarchy”, “Emancipation” and ”Individuation”, each part consisting of four tracks, apart from ”Emancipation” with three. Additionally, each part also contains one track named ”Angel of…” and they are sometimes the most intense, most diverse and certainly most different tracks on the record like ”Angel of Hierarchy” which is nothing more than an instrumental ode played on a synth (or a Moog) in a certain vibrato-style or maybe also a vibraphone tuning; the track has no further instrumentation, no vocals, no clear melodic lines and yet, it is as intimate as anything I have heard this year.

The somewhat dichotomy between music and title should not be seen as an inside joke, if you want that, then you should be looking at smaller bits like the track title ”Djennaration” which seems to be a combination of “Djent” and “generation” and which also embodies the free spirit of the record AND the fun, the band must have had recording and will have performing it! That track is a literally (!) unbelievably good mix of flute madness, Djent, Post-Metal and Trap music! It is a real highlight right at the beginning of the record – where Trap flows into short ethereal pauses only to be washed away by mighty, beefy blastbeats. The vocals alternate between shrieks of the wildest kind and wonderful waves of female vocalizing. Haela Ravenna Hunt-Hendrix has certainly found her voice on this record and that includes the songwriting which is so good on both levels – the grand scheme of the whole tracks and the album as a whole and the minute details on the smaller micro-levels. The way ”Djennaration” includes the flute sounds for example counteracts any expectation we might have towards that instrument, because here it fully supports the madness by adding the high notes and thus that tiny bit of support for the guitar lines which can still procure strong riffs.

When the third track ”Caela” then flows into a guitar line somewhat Indian or Far-East-Asian (maybe even somewhat Tibetan) one should not be surprised that it really works. On a road-map through the songs, one would see the record and also the songs themselves as taking way too many detours, not going straight for the destination/target – that cannot work. However, we are talking about Liturgy here – we all should KNOW this will work. The sometimes staccato-like “djentness” of the songs go hand in hand with the heavy black metal riffs and vocals and the most heavenly harmonics this side of the millennium. For example, in ”Caela” there are those nearly inaudible vocals harmonies underneath all the madness at the end – won-der-ful and in some way already laying the foundations for the choir harmonies of the fourth track ”Angel of Sovereignty”. The bridge between the two songs as fundamentally opposed to each other as they are, the bridge are these small clean vocals underneath the final part of ”Caela”.

The doomy intro into the second part with ”Haelegen II” is a march which then twists into a blast-beat-bombardment while the guitar lines do not change all that much and the vocals push the whole song forward, even through little bits of breakbeats when the drums seem to be twisted into electronic ones. That certain electronic element is also obvious when listening to the vocoder part after roughly two minutes, which will surprise a few so much that they might not notice all the diverse shifting patterns underneath it. Why do I mention all of that? Maybe only to show how different, how diverse and how well-made these songs are. And really coherent in a very interesting and intense way.

Nevertheless, one cannot talk about 93696 without talking about the idea and inspirations behind it.(that’s also the reason why we talked in depth with Haela in the interview below) The number of the title is a number derived from the religions of Christianity and Thelema, a numerological representation of heaven. Thelema or as Haela said it herself in our interview it is basically ”the religion of metal” as self-fulfillment is its aim. When looking at the tracks from that perspective it might imply that these are also somewhat the four steps into becoming one’s true self: take back the sovereignty over your own life, emancipate yourself from the judgment of others so that in the end, you are your true, very own self.

If this the road that Liturgy are taking from now on, being the true version of their own, then I cannot wait what comes next. The record is awesome in all its aspects, all its facets, all its twists – it will still take months to really get to know my way around this record and I am willing to take that task upon myself, goosebumps included.