Review Summary: an album that tries too hard and as a result collapses under its own weight.
I occasionally meet with this friend of mine, a music student, and as you can imagine we often get onto the subject of music rather frequently. Sometimes I show her some music I've been listening to lately. We don't always get along, often she comes across as a pretentious bigot. Most of the time she will dislike anything I show her for being (in her words) "musically incorrect", such as having an imperfect cadence, atonal melodies, all that jazz. I suppose you're wondering why any of this is relevant. It's relevant because of how much it reminds me of the vocalist of Liturgy, Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, who is the un-rivaled champion of thinking about something far too hard and taking himself and his music far too seriously. Aesthethica
is more than enough proof of this, because this album goes to the extreme to be "musically correct" whilst simultaneously forgetting what makes music like this enjoyable and thought-provoking: Passion.
I choose not to look too much into the 'manifesto' written by the vocalist himself, titled "Transcendental Black Metal", which they claim is the genre of music they play. Something about the music being solar and optimistic and something about a burst beat which is essentially a blast beat but shorter and messier. A song ascends, opens some kind of void, descends, ends. Sounds a lot like sex, perhaps it's to make up for the band's lack of experience in this area. But immature jokes aside, this formula doesn't really do anything particularly special at all, or give any edge to this band. The structure, despite sticking to a formula, just sounds very messy in most of the songs on Aesthethica
which completely hinders the hypnotic effect this album is trying to create. It's like listening to good music whilst driving over speed-bumps that stand 3 feet off the ground, it just completely ruins the effect.
Not only that though, the effect is also completely ruined by some of the most infuriating tracks I've ever heard a band create. Tracks like Helix Skull
have about as much personality as a piece of driftwood, sounding like an old ringtone from a mobile phone from 2 decades ago, as an interlude between tracks. Tracks like this are just pointless, and all they do is remind the listener of how badly this album is put together as a whole. It doesn't stop there though, another interlude track called Glass Earth
might compete for one of the worst tracks of the year - which is literally the band shouting "heyyyy *pause* heyyyy *pause* heyyyy" for 3 minutes. The human voice, possibly the most expressive instrument man can use, and somehow Liturgy managed to make even that seem sterile. I guess since these tracks are only interludes they aren't quite as intrusive and are easier to ignore. But when one of the longest tracks on the album is literally the same riff, which consists of the same note over and over again (granted the notes are in a different octave, but the same note nonetheless) for 7 minutes, something here is clearly wrong.
It's only when the band abandon this formula of theirs does the album get anywhere near good, such as the track Veins of God
, which almost sounds like a Melvins-worship track. It's the most enjoyable track on the album, and unfortunately seems to be the only song where they break out of their broken formula that just doesn't do what they state it should. The entire record to me sounds like a music student's attempt at adding as many musical aspects into an album, desperately trying to get marks from their teacher for being "musically correct", leaving absolutely no room for passion, personality and everything that makes black metal good to listen to. I completely understand and embrace that a genre needs to develop and evolve, but is taking all the passion out of the music really the way you want to see black metal taken into? Would anyone really be supportive of that? Okay, maybe the blokes in Liturgy, but for reasons I've previously disclosed, they're a very special case.
Some call this a mix of math rock and black metal and that wouldn't be too far out, but due to the lacklustre organisation and structure, it just doesn't achieve the realm it should. Liturgy have collapsed in on themselves by trying too hard to create the effect as described in their manifesto, and it has crippled the album of everything it could have been. There is talent here, such as in the band's drummer who does a fantastic job, and the production work does a great job of bringing out what this album has left in its arsenal, but it's not enough to save Aesthethica
from unfortunately being a failed attempt at mastering their own genre and niche. Next time they should work more on not trying to push too much into one CD and making it collapse under the weight of itself, and instead fortify the ideas they have into better structures with a better ear for atmosphere and a flowing and successful album. If you feel the need to check this out I could advise you to not look at the manifesto or hype behind this band beforehand because it unfortunately shows the album for what it is: a failure. Better luck next time, guys.