Liturgy
The Ark Work


2.5
average

Review

by Benjamin Kuettel STAFF
April 19th, 2015 | 100 replies


Release Date: 03/24/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Experimentation in a duality between creative heights and massive lows.

Any band that describes itself as “transcendental black metal” will be sure to raise a few eyebrows among purists of the genre. Liturgy’s frontman Hunter Hunt-Hendrix and many of his questionable comments are more than enough to quickly be dismissed by fans as trying too hard to create controversy. With the group’s third release The Ark Work, they have fully succeeded in doing just that. Critics and fans alike are completely divided, with some declaring the album as the next step for black metal, and others abhorring nearly every aspect of it, including the aforementioned declarations by Hunt-Hendrix. It is important to keep in mind here that a band’s philosophies and subsequent fan reactions are not what an album itself should be judged on. This is true especially for The Ark Work, mainly because there is almost no aspects of black metal present. Hunt-Hendrix’s opinions about the genre he supposedly plays lower in relevance with every album Liturgy makes, as each has moved farther and farther away from any genre of metal, and closer to a strange amalgamation of lo-fi glitch and experimental math rock. The layers of sound can even be seen as having influences in shoegazing. The only aspect that is remotely close to embodying metal’s spirit is the drum performance, and even that would be a stretch. Polyrhythmic drum patterns, off kilter beats, and at times blast beats are utilized and end up being the most impressive aspects of the album overall.

Tracks like album opener “Fanfare” and “Kel Valhaal” make use of a wide range of instruments, including horns, bagpipes, and various electronic noises. Noise is an accurate term to depict how The Ark Work sounds, as even its fervent defenders will describe it as such. Songs will repeat the same droning, dense layerings of instrumentals and melodies for minutes on end. This trend can get irritating, though also succeeds in providing a hypnotic, bizarre listening experience at times. Repetition is a delicate aspect to deal with, and if not used the right way, can turn any song into a chore to listen to. Many of these tracks have that unfortunate problem, making the listening experience that much more unpleasant and frustrating at times. Liturgy’s newfound focus on an experimental brand of glitch, electronic, and droning noise is certainly an interesting and different feat to attempt, and produces some compelling results within tracks like lead single “Quetzalcoatl.” The vocals are overall hit-and-miss, wailing and moaning for a bizarrely dramatic and emotional effect. Hunt-Hendrix is seemingly content with filling every song with the most monotone, howling sounds he can. When these vocal styles are performed over rapidly off kilter drumming and beautifully strange guitar melodies, it makes for an absorbing yet off-putting listening experience, for better or worse, depending on if you’re into that sort of thing.

The meat of the album’s sound is unfortunately drowned out in an unfortunate production and mixing job, muddying the shimmering guitar sounds and heavenly melodies, and even the drumming at times, where the album shines. Album epic “Reign Array” features a wonderfully absorbing tremolo guitar picking melody that alternates with other harmonies and experimentations before repeating again at just the right moment toward the end, showing off the band’s compositional skills perfectly. Unfortunately, the album begins to feel monotonous by the time “Vitriol” and album closer “Total War” follow it. While being as solid as anything else on The Ark Work, the return to heavy repetition and the still grating vocals outstay the effect. With too many songs relying on one singular idea to carry them through the entire time, some trimming could have done the album wonders. Overall, The Ark Work takes ambitious ideas like repetition, experimentation, and droning in service of new and interesting ideas and experimentations. They also yield repetitive, irritating results as well, with strange decisions made that could have been easily avoided in favor of an incredible result. What Liturgy has presented with The Ark Work remains even more frustrating and disappointing because their ambition and attempts to experiment and reinvent themselves with each album is a trait that more bands should follow. It’s unfortunate that their execution ends up only half successful, with plenty of memorable and worthwhile material among monotonous mumblings of a confused frontman and a fair amount of relentlessly directionless noise.



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2.8
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Comments:Add a Comment 
TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
April 19th 2015


17846 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Streaming on Spotify if you want to hear this for yourself. Feedback is appreciated, I tried to remain professional in some way but still get heated enough to justify the score. Big thanks to Oranges. for proofreading.

Digging: Thom Yorke - Suspiria

oltnabrick
April 19th 2015


36191 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Dumpass

Digging: Tomb Mold - Cerulean Salvation

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
April 19th 2015


18010 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

okay that's it i'm checking this

Digging: Ichiko Aoba - QP

Gameofmetal
Staff Reviewer
April 19th 2015


10402 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

"and if not used right way"



looks like a word or two is missing from this bit



Good review. Kinda thought it hinted at more of a 1.5 than an outright 1 but that's up to you.

oltnabrick
April 19th 2015


36191 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Noise is an accurate term to depict how The Ark Work sounds
most music is noise

NakedSnake
April 19th 2015


664 Comments


That's an exceptionally flat ratings chart

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
April 19th 2015


17846 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

I meant noise as in "unwanted sound" the way its actually defined in terms of music, but I can see how that could be confusing so I might change that.

Gameofmetal
Staff Reviewer
April 19th 2015


10402 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

"That's an exceptionally flat ratings chart"



Yeah haven't seen a chart like that in a while. Clearly a divisive record.

deathschool
April 19th 2015


22905 Comments


I didn't neg, but I feel like this review just makes maybe two points over and over again which is pretty ironic. I really don't feel like you justify the 1 either as you point out some redeeming qualities.

Mort.
Contributing Reviewer
April 19th 2015


14070 Comments


Reads more like a 1.5 or a 2 to me than a 1 but other than that good review, pod

Digging: Daughters - You Won't Get What You Want

Slut
April 19th 2015


4254 Comments


Def doesn't read like a 1

YakNips
April 19th 2015


19364 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

the only 1 im dreaming of

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
April 19th 2015


18010 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

is u~

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
April 19th 2015


17846 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

I stand by my score, maybe I'll work these points into the review itself since I guess it isn't clear but the minute positives aren't enough to warrant a 1.5 or a 2. The drumming may be impressive and Reign Array has that one okay part, but those elements can be found in their other two albums anyway.

YakNips
April 19th 2015


19364 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

honestly follow is so fucking good

deathschool
April 19th 2015


22905 Comments


Whole album rocks, but if it was consistently as good as the last three tracks, it might be a 4.5

YakNips
April 19th 2015


19364 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

i just am in love with the guitar tone

Archelirion
April 19th 2015


5593 Comments


Jesus wept, Fanfare might be the most annoying opening track I've ever heard.

Digging: The Body - O God who avenges, shine forth. Rise up, Judge of

YakNips
April 19th 2015


19364 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

i get so turnt to vitriol tbh

zaruyache
April 19th 2015


19853 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

vitriol is meh.



Follow and Follow II are good, though.

Digging: Grotesque - The Black Gate is Closed



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