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Review: Liturgy, Locrian In Chicago Not Your Traditional Show

  • David Lee Rothmund
Liturgy live in Chicago, 2015

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Liturgy is here to stay. And so apparently is post-black metal, i.e. metalgaze/blackgaze, transcendental black metal, or whatever the hell you wanna call it. Subgenre nomenclature aside, something is important to note: this shit rules live. They played a packed house at The Empty Bottle in Chicago on July 17.

And it was a bit different than your “traditional” metal show. No moshing. No shenanigans. No chit-chat with from the band. Dudes and gals stand with their eyes closed rolling little notes in the air with their jazz fingers. Or they’re the stoic “bask in awe” type. Like the first time you get oral sex or see the Grand Canyon. #woahdude

Sounds hyperbolic. And it is! We’re talking about intensities now, not just sweet riffs and catchy basslines and blastbeats. If you’ve caught Liturgy’s latest album The Ark Work, it features no screaming and even a fucking rap-ish song. Also it’s nigh unlistenable unless you’re interested in being tranced.

But as hypnotic as Liturgy is, there’s still lotsa enjoyment in seeing them live. The post-blastbeat (“burstbeat”) structure of their songs immediately pound you into meditation. The uncharismatic vocals draw you into a transcendent state, not unlike a $1.99 self-help cassette (and the production value is about the same). Point being: if you actively allow the music enter you, it’ll come.

Locrian live in Chicago 2015
Terence Hannum of Locrian by Sangdi Chen

A shout-out is due to Locrian, who played right before Liturgy. Their newest album Infinite Dissolution came out two weeks after this gig, and it represents the much softer, less mechanical side of post-whatever. While not as captivating in a live setting (a 15-minute finale of disaster and noise was overblown), it is a pleasurable “tune in and tune out” listen when at home.

Bands like these (and Sannhet) are illuminating a possible future of metal. As we note postmodern shifts in film, literature, and other forms of media and expression, we should expect the same with heavy music. As far as live shows go: moshing like apes will never die, but zonking out like cattle may become the new mechanics of appreciation.


Liturgy heads to Europe in October, dates here

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