Lychgate are a band from the United Kingdom that has had music reviewed before in this zine and on this recording plays a very progressive and avant garde mixture of black and funeral doom metal and this is a review of their 2020 EP "Also sprach Futura" which will be released in March by Debemur Morti Productions.
A very dark and heavy sound starts off the album while all of the musical instruments also have a very powerful sound to them. The songs also mix in a great amount of avant garde elements along with the faster sections also adding in a lot of blast beats and clean vocals can also be heard at times.
Death metal growls are also added into some parts of the music while the solos and leads are done in a very melodic yet progressive style. The slower sections of the songs are also very heavily rooted in funeral doom metal along with the songs also adding in a decent mixture of slow, mid paced and fast parts and the music also mixes in some blackened screams in some parts of the recording.
Clean playing, organs and mellotrons can also be heard in certain sections of the recording as well as one track also adding in a brief use of spoken word parts along with the music also taking some of the mid 90's avant garde black metal style and mixing it with some more modern influences. The production sounds very professional while the lyrics cover transhumanism, simulacra and simulation, post-humanity, the uncanny valley, Pygmalionism, and the fictional machine Golem XIV which exceeds human intelligence.
In my opinion this is another great sounding recording from Lychgate and if you are a fan of progressive, avant garde black metal and funeral doom metal, you should check out this EP. RECOMMENDED TRACKS INCLUDE "Progeny of the Singularity" and "Vanity Ablaze".
Assuming this was an album and the follow up to 2018’s 3rd full length ‘The Contagion In Nine Steps’ I got a bit of a surprise on downloading it to discover it was actually a 4 track EP and shorter in combined length than one of vocalist Greg Chandler’s single songs in main project Esoteric. That aside I didn’t feel like I had been sold short as Lychgate pack more ideas into even a stop-gap release than many do in their whole careers. This one has heavy narrative and to quote the press blurb conceptually deals with “transhumanism, simulacra and simulation, post-humanity, the uncanny valley, Pygmalionism and the fictional machine Golem XIV, which exceeds human intelligence.” This it does so by the tracks taking cues from such sources as Metropolis (book and film), Stanisław Lem’s Golem XIV, Pygmalion’s sculpture of the ideal human and the simulacrum Futura and The self-destruction of the human via the ideal human. Yep what we have here is nothing short of a Frankenstein’s monster of a release cobbled together from parts of the past and future and the strange psyches of its creators. You can of course ignore all the subtext and simply press play and experience the nightmarish tones of the music itself with getting embroiled in the ideologies themselves and this will be quite enough to warp your head anyway. Lychgate seem to be very much a thinking person’s band though and don’t do anything by half measures so even this is a dense journey that will not be for those of fragile mind who are not prepared to delve into strange and experimental sounds and tones.
‘Incarnate’ takes us into this terrifying baroque mass with juddering drumming rhythms and Vortigern’s church of the damned organ playing. Guitar and keyboards wrap themselves around things and avant-garde derangement follows with vocals both howling and gibbering with full moon madness and clean croons. It’s totally schizophrenic but gels together too with some airy and light touches behind the flamboyant grotesquery on display. It’s all over in just 3 minutes with a final coffin lid snap shut leaving you wondering what the hell you just encountered. ‘Progeny Of The Singularity’ quickly gives birth to more crazed galloping cavalcades of strangeness, the guitars of S.D. Lindsley jousting with the deranged organ zeal and thumping drums, Chandler growling over the top. We trawl through ages from Victoriana eldritch gas lamping moods to jazz laden dark smoky cabaret. It’s all incredibly Grand Guignol and over the top, hang onto your stove pipe hat and hope you manage to come out the other side. I have visions of trying to flee from a ghastly wax museum and it’s easy enough to dispense with intended ideas here and make up your own visions but they are guaranteed not to be pleasant. A gentle moment of funereal calmness has ‘Simulacrum’ bringing further doom and dread, melody is strong and hypnotic as are the clean vocals which have more than a touch of Solefald about them. Freakish Tod Browning type beings come out of the fog and take revenge and this is rooted in classicism whichever way you look at it. Visions are in black and white and Vortigern’s channelling of Bach’s vengeful spirit make this seem like music conjured up by the phantom of the opera itself. Having called Esoteric the scariest band on the planet in the past as we arrive at ‘Vanity Ablaze’ it is clear that this is although compositionally different is built from the same fractured horror.
A unique fever dream, paradoxically beautifully terrifying. ‘Also sprach Futura’ should definitely not be dismissed for being a mere EP but should be absorbed fully and embraced in all its ghoulish glory; that is unless it absorbs you first…
Review by Pete Woods.
There’s something pleasantly disarming about Lychgate’s Also sprach Futura EP. The British doom/death ensemble has done this before on 2015’s underrated An Antidote for the Glass Pill, that is, weaving in unease with dungeon-like wanderings. It’s almost like this is pre-doom, if will, imposing and eclectic and also quite lateral — Lychgate is a veritable melting pot of controlled cacophony, ready to swallow the listener whole.
Rapid Fire review by David E. Gehlke.
VERDIKT: První malá nahrávka Lychgate představující je v rovině dřevních avantgardistů studujících účinky transhumánních zákroků a fiktivní budoucnosti.
Umělecko-vědecký klan Lychgate se znovu vrací mezi podrobený lid. Po třech velkých albech, z nichž každé prezentovalo odlišnější tvář kapely a pro posluchače bylo tvrdou závěrečnou zkouškou z vtažení do děje. Ať už to byl seznamovací debut, chaoticky psychedelický následovník An Antidote for the Glass Pill, jehož strávení má dodnes svoje následky, nebo doom metal pro filosofy samotáře The Contagion in Nine Steps, vždy se jednalo o svérázný zápis do diskografie souboru. Lychgate platí za metalové podivíny, rozervané mystiky a tyrany vlastních myslí, na tom se nic nemění ani dnes. Mění se jen hrací doba, neboť nový opus Also sprach Futura spadá do kategorie EP. I tak je ovšem o zábavu postaráno.
Also sprach Futura sleduje estetiku a možnou vizi velmi temné budoucnosti. Za přísného dohledu vyučujících se budou probírat témata transhumanismu, simulace, fikce a možného ovládání stroje Golema XIV, jenž přesahuje lidskou inteligenci. Učení Lychgate nepodléhá žádnému vyššímu druhu, je originálem a tak jej i berme. Zkusme aspoň okrajově stát spolu se členy kapely za katedrou a přednášet. V promo materiálech se to termíny přesahujícími běžný fádní život jenom hemží, až je to přehnané. Téma samotné je ovšem velmi zajímavé a pár věcí si stojí za to najít a trochu nastudovat. Z mé strany je to ale hodně nejisté, takže vítám svou roli průvodce hudebního odkazu ve slovech. Budu se jí držet.
Hudba Lychgate od nepaměti spojuje dvě roviny. A na tomto EP je to víc než patrné, protože Also sprach Futura je především o spojení avantgardy a metalu v jeho nejspontánnější podobě. Jsou to dva řezy spojené v jeden celek. První je emocionální, v rukou kapely orchestrální s úchvatnými varhanami v čele, a druhý je rovinou metalové bestiality. Zde velmi animální a nepokrytě drsné. Kdybych si mohl vybrat (a vybral jsem si), nazval bych Also sparch Futura surově avantgardním death/blackem s futuristickým podtextem. Filosofické poslání novinky je dané a přesvědčivé, ale jako u předchozích alb vítězí hudební kreativita.
Also sprach Futura je na poměry kapely nářez jako sviň, což představují spuštěná stavidla na téma death metal (ano! - ten je zde cítit nejvíce). Vedle zbytků doomové chrámovosti a vše zastřešující blackové esence, je to právě death, co nejvíc dráždí smysly. Někdy jako bych zde trochu slyšel Emperor. Vlastně jejich úplné avantgardní vykolejení vedoucí skrz opar digestoře někam do neznáma a do toho všeho Gregův esotericky hrdelní chropot proložený deklamací. Drtivé výjezdy ve smrtícím tempu nahrávce hodně pomáhají a hlavně mě strašně baví. Polosvětu orchestrace dominují varhany a jejich jedinečný zvuk, to se nemění, prostoru dostaly skutečně hodně. Spolu s deathovou aurou miníčku dominují. Dvacet minut, čtyři skladby a pořád je co objevovat. Toho se nelze přejíst. Lychgate dali svému EP hodně vzteku a ryzí brutality. A já to jenom kvituji, sluší jim.
There are yet only a small handful of bands approaching black metal aesthetics with the level of professional and ornate prog-extreme musicianship and doom-sized atmosphere as that of London organ grinders Lychgate who return with their first post-‘The Contagion in Nine Steps’ EP, ‘Also sprach Futura’ this week. In terms of actual progressive music, the avant-garde taken to a world-class level of performance and conceptual vision, Lychgate are almost entirely in a ‘progressive black metal’ world of their own that is by chance incredibly strange and wildly detailed. There is a chaotic order to recognize within each of these four pieces and I’ve long related it their style to the latter days of Emperor, the progressive and unpredictable nature of (non-industrial metal era) Dødheimsgard and maybe Abigor‘s most electric early days but, these are difficult comparisons to make without some heavy caveat on each part. There is a resounding discordance that arises when Lychgate are wailing full-bore that is unlike anything else and the presence of the organ produces an ominous cathedralesque distortion in unison, as if channeled by some nihilistic ancient cult.
In theme, ‘Also sprach Futura’ aims clairvoyance upon the future and wrathfully details the horror of the present evolved into nauseating truths. The erasure of corporeal humanity, the distortion available within a ‘shared’ notion of human existence, and ultimately the vision of the EP begins to feel like a wonderfully detailed Philip K. Dick novella where sentience is a matter of perspective and chaotic existence is preserved without flesh. Without this context it’d perhaps just be a complex and wonderfully dark progressive black metal album but the themes go a long way to guide the record’s vision toward present day ripples of a crowded Earth finding a way through a damned neon-lit future. I found this EP horrifying, exciting, and a nice accompaniment to their previous LP, sounding like a meaningful grouping of extra pieces from those 2017 sessions. There hasn’t really been an “onboarding” record for Lychgate up until this point and I felt like ‘Also sprach Futura’ offers a succinct picture of what their three records have to offer. Highly recommended for folks who were overwhelmed by the sheer bulk of the bands past releases but remain curious, there is yet plenty of depth to relish.
The semantic field which lies between the Gothic, the future, metal, and the avant-garde is fertile with meaning. First, the Gothic, which we define here as the literary or “artistic” Gothic. It’s a sub-genre or modifier which deals with death, anxiety, and the body. Frankenstein is of course the prime example but they abound. In the Gothic, the body is vulnerable to outside invasion, colonization, and modification and that fact worries us and captures our imagination at the same time. This feeds directly into our imagination of the future, which tends to focus in many cases on bodies, especially artificial or modified ones; the cyborg, the android, the augmented. These ideas worry us: we are concerned of losing our mortality, of being outdone by post-humans, of becoming monsters beyond space and time. But these ideas also fascinate us: we dream of travelling the stars in our invulnerable bodies, of being faster and stronger, of possessing un-imagined beauty.
Metal has fed on these ideas but hasn’t quite captured the neurotic anxiety and craving that these ideas stir in us. Usually, augmented bodies from the future in metal are either bad guys to be fought or incredible potential for the liberation of mankind. That hybridity, the ambiguous fear-desire we feel towards a Gothic future in which we are all beautiful monsters, usually falls short of metal’s grasp. Enter the avant-garde. What better sub-genre of metal and, specifically, black metal, than the avant-garde to explore these complex ideas? Lychgate‘s Also sprach Futura is perfect proof of this. Channeling their already unsettling sound through a lens of futuristic, faintly Gothic, imminently cyberpunk aesthetics, the band create a kind of desired nightmare, a world of shadows and potential that evokes the very specific kind of anxiety which the heady mix of the ideas presented above incites within us.
Just listen to the first track, “Incarnate”, and, specifically, those organs. Those devilish organs! They’re so loud and fast, keeping up pace with the blistering black metal riffs even as they reach their full swing. These sounds contribute immensely to that feeling of anxiety I described above; everything feels close, closing its claws around you. But the crashing of the guitars and the drums also has a sense of the majestic to it, like a city unfurling up into the night. You fear it, it holds danger, but it’s also strangely alluring. When the vocals arrive, faintly machine-like in their quality and timbre and oh so deep, the dark image has been painted. The track sounds like the album art, dark, occult, futuristic, unsettling.
Nor does the album relent. “Progeny of the Singularity” continues with those same synths, the guitars feeding into their drama while the drums continue to etch out the main pace of the track. The riffs which start around the one and a half minute mark are some of the best on the album, their agility and expression drawing from “classical” black metal ideas but, as always, distorted through the lens of those damnable synths. It will take five full minutes before the quieter stretches of “Simulacrum”, wherein the bass gets its moments in the inverted, black, digital sun, allow you some measure of breath. But even there, the tension is maintained by the abrasive screams which scorch the back of the mix, before one of the most Gothic moments on Thus sprach Futura, with the organs blaring into a moment’s silence to announce the track’s outro.
That “out of breath” feeling is further maintained and amplified by the fact that the album is so short. To be honest, twenty minutes is the perfect run-time for music of this sort; before your ears tire out, before your stomach can acclimate to what’s happening, the album is over with a gasp. You feel immediately drawn back to because it is over, because you have a choice to play it again, rather than its musical ideas overstaying their welcome. Also sprach Futura, because of many things other than its run-time, like its cover art, tones, composition and structure, is a whirlwind of an album. It invokes that desire, that fear, that anxiety towards the future and our existence within it that Gothic works so often do and does it damn well. In fact, it does better than almost anything else which I’ve heard operate in these semantic spaces. Nietzsche would have been proud.
Review by Eden Kupermintz.
Unleashing a truly unique level of aural abuse, today we have UK’s Lychgate and their new label debut EP “Also sprach Futura”. If you think you have heard weird stuff before, this release will re-define the concept for you. Featuring four tracks of pure madness, this band combines elements from Doom/Jazz/Progressive/Brutal Death Metal, and pretty much everything else into an amalgamation of sonic abusive tracks.
The release opens with the cirquesque “Incarnate”, incorporating brutal guitar riffs with chaotic tempo changes and funky organ/mellotron atmospherics. Taking this track over the top are the throat singing moments that just add more confusion and madness between the Black Metal-ish harshness and funky atmospherics. Things settle down a bit on the interesting “Progeny of the Singularity”, where the band starts with brutal onslaughts and slowly evolves into an eerie sickening atmospheric passage , just as the brutality returns to close this magically weird piece.
Dialing back the randomness of the first two tracks, “Simulacrum” creates a very cavernous atmosphere with oppressive guitars intermingled with more experimental/jazzy elements. This track gives us a certain Ephel Duath vibe but with a more sinister and playful tone. Our favorite track is the brilliant “Vanity Ablaze”, the perfect combination of funky melodic and atmospheric elements mixed in with solid clean vocals and a crafty drum/guitar core.
Lychgate’s ability to craft some of the most intricate and yet accessible chaotic songs we have heard in quite a while is unrivaled. The band’s craft is highly refined and guaranteed to have a high replay value as every time we listen to this EP we discover new little elements that we didn’t hear before. If you like melancholic, brutal, and chaotic Metal music, this is one release you should not miss out on.
METALLIC MIND BENDERS LYCHGATE ELEVATE THEIR CREATIVITY BEYOND WITH DARING ‘ALSO SPRACH FUTURA’
There is your run-of-the-mill science-fiction that is ripe for being turned into motion pictures the public will devour, and then there’s the hardcore shit that takes research to understand half of what’s going on. To be honest, I’m super into the latter, essentially because I’m a gigantic dork and can’t help myself but get lost in those things.
When it comes to warped metal machine Lychgate, they definitely fall into the spectrum of content you need to thoroughly research if you want in on everything that’s going on. I mean, you can just show up for the music and be fine, though it’s also on the challenging side as well, but you’re not that kind of listener, are you? I’m not. I have to know everything that’s going on here, so that took me to endless Google searches when tackling the band’s new EP “Also sprach Futura,” their first for Debemur Morti. Here, the English band delivers four mind-bending tracks that visit topical terrain such as the evolutionary theory of transhumanism; simulacra and simulation, a philosophical discourse by French sociologist Jean Baudrillard; and the fictional Golem XIV, a military AI machine that begins to create its own consciousness. That’s just scratching the surface of what the band—vocalist/guitarist Greg Chandler (Esoteric), guitarist S. D. Lindsley, and guitarist/keyboardist/organist J. C. Vortigern Young, bassist A. K. Webb, and drummer T. J. F. Vallely—jam into a 20:24-long effort that isn’t too much to take from a time a standpoint but will break your brain.
“Incarnate” punches open as organs sprawl all over, with zany chaos exploding unchecked. Buzzing singing and furious growls smash boundaries as the pace dizzies, keys flutter, and the track ends in a pool of drama. “Progeny of the Singularity” has a super proggy start before organs rumble, and a death-style assault tears open doors. The playing is ugly, hellish, and intimidating, with clean calls registering behind the madness. An eerie strain washes through and chills while the track gets heavier and muddier with the bass hammering. Ferocious shrieks run wild, with the song mauling before a flash finish. “Simulacrum” percolates and drips as slow chugging bruises, and clean calls perk ears. The track is even breezy for a stretch before lurching growls rupture calm, and the playing scrapes raw skin. Clean strangeness wafts in and adds more confusion before the body is shredded, and the final punches clean house. “Vanity Ablaze” ends the collection with the organs haunting before crunchy thrashing gets under way. Vicious growls mix with a clobbering pace before melting into a cold front where the guitars drip before turning into ice. Fires solve that problem as they ravage the cold, twisting and contorting, while the growls spit cinders, and pastoral organs swallow everything whole.
Lychgate long have created difficult music for complicated people, and like the theory of transhumanism, the band does seem to be progressing beyond their earthly coils on “Also sprach Futura.” There’s a lot to dig into here, and with each layer comes more complications you must deal with in your mind. It’s a good stepping in point for those who have yet to approach Lychgate and want a quick glimpse, but afterward, there’s no undoing this experience that alters realities.
Review by Brian Krasman.
Ah, how I love this world of Metal music. While one praises the dark, the other praises the light and they both live together as equals. Metal has the ability to represent both Lords of light and darkness. Only the strongest can. Just the other review I was writing about a band with a bright grip ant today I have a band with a darker one. Lychgate with “Also sprach Futura” praise the dark honestly. There is no question about it. It is very interesting to posit here both version of Metal music. Lychgate use tones, tempos, chords and keyboards to create an experience of chaos and insanity. The initial sequence of “Progeny of the Singularity” shows this very particularly. Even the melodic parts are to create a feeling of discomfort to the fan. Even the sweetest has some bitter taste of the twisted and insane. The slow and more cadenced parts are to fright to to please giving the fan a distorted idea of reality. Listen to the sick chorus in it to get what I’m saying. Of course, there is beauty in the chaos and Lychgate do their best to show it to the fan.
Comparing the keyboards it’s possible to notice that in “Also sprach Futura” they are tense and are prone to give this exact feeling to the fan. Keyboards lines create a tension inside the song which tends to give room to more chaos and disorder. The four tracks herein reinforce this idea letting the fan enjoy the dark and tense and warm forces of darkness. Lychgate are one of the bands that really took the best sounds of the keyboards in order to build their music. They are very important and intense to the songwriting which is not the usual for Metal bands. It’s funny to remember that in the past keyboards were though to sweeten the songs. well, as a matter of fact, they usually did it in most bands. The 1990s came with the new intent and turned them into a powerful force of disorder and chaos along with the guitars. Moreover, they add some kind of insanity and sickness to the mood.
Here’s an EP that is worthy every single minute.
Review by Poleto.
This enigmatic quartet's first EP confirms their high-tensile mastery of cerebral prog-death/black/doom, summoning deep, dark atmospheres and challenging listeners with a dramatic barrage of seething, churching chops.
Review by Chris Chantler.
Lychgate has been one of the most exciting metal bands to emerge in the past decade, with each of their three full lengths twisting the worlds of black metal and doom together in ways that proved to be nightmarish and ever changing. Their use of the organ and keyboards as a driving force in their material has played a large role in this, and while each record has differed in how these pieces came together, they’ve all remained thoroughly engaging. Two years after The Contagion in Nine Steps Lychgate has returned with a new EP titled Also sprach Futura which finds them once again flipping the script. Coming through at an even faster pace where songs flow seamlessly into the next, this is another adventurous release from the band that’s as exciting on the tenth listen as it is on the first.
Compared to some of Lychgate’s prior material the tempo feels faster from the get-go, with there being an even greater emphasis on black metal and passages that blast away at listeners with a frenetic, swirling approach. This approach gives off a very different tone and atmosphere than the group’s prior material, as it gives listeners a bit less time to breathe as the layers build at a quicker pace and reach even more nightmarish levels than ever before. That’s not to say that the instrumentals are going full blast for the entire twenty minute run as there are still some slower interludes that give a bit of pause and let a sense of dread seep in, and during these sections the guitars and organ once again create melodies that are downright spine chilling. It’s a lot to take in, even for fans that are familiar with Lychgate’s flair for the avant-garde, and each time through you’ll start to discover additional layers and transitions that weren’t evident before. Everything flows together in a way that makes Also sprach Futura best experienced as a single body of work rather than in bits and pieces, though individual elements remain distinguishable between the tracks. It’s got all of the abrasive and nightmarish edges of black metal but everything’s been ran through a grinder and spit back out in non-linear ways, drawing you in and then beckoning you to dive deeper and get swept away into the group’s all-encompassing atmosphere.
Greg Chandler’s vocals have played a significant role in Lychgate’s music, as his growls have always been able to deviate in pitch more than is typical for the genre. This is once again the case throughout Also sprach Futura, as his growls are extremely dense and tower over the instrumentation in a way that commands your attention with each verse. On The Contagion in Nine Steps the group had started incorporating a greater amount of singing and chanting, and there’s still plenty of that to be found here. The combination of the two gives a considerably amount of variety to the performance, and no matter whether they’re bludgeoning you with deep growls or somber chanting the level of energy remains overwhelming at times.
With each of their releases Lychgate has transformed elements of black metal and doom into ways that feel unique. With this EP they’ve further explored black metal and kept the tempo at a faster, more chaotic pace that feels even denser and full of twists and turns than ever before. The atmosphere is as intoxicating as it is terrifying, and while it may take some extended period of time to fully get a feel for all of the nuances there’s plenty to be gained from taking the time to do so. Every time this group announces new material there is cause for excitement, and they’ve once again delivered a must-listen. Also sprach Futura is available from Debemur Morti Productions.
Review by Chris Dahlberg.
Lychgate arrived to great acclaim six years ago, and since then the British supergroup has dropped a new record every couple years. Also sprach Futura is their first EP, with four of their typically bizarre mashups of avant-garde black metal mixed with church organ.
The chaos that comprises the Lychgate sound explodes out at you as soon as you hit the play button. Discordant waves of guitar slosh around the organ, which lurches queasily across the mix. There are blastbeats down below, but random and vicious, cutting in and out. Progeny of the Singularity, where Esoteric's Greg Chandler exchanges his harsh growl with moaned choir vocals that sound like the denizens of a haunted house, features some excellent guitar shredding as well. Simulacrum, on the other hand, starts out slow and grim, speeding up into an oppressive storm of guitar that abruptly cuts out to let soft, clean interludes take over. The final track ends with a measured beat at least by Lychgate standards, with Chandler roaring over the organ in full Halloween-horror mode, with the guitars playing an eerie accompaniment. Like its predecessors, Also sprach Futura needs multiple listens to take in, but is ultimately rewarding.
Review by Andy.
On one side, my expectations couldn’t be higher when knowing that Lychgate was about to release something new. You know, while “An Antidote for the Glass Pill” had transported Lychgate to a league of their own with its massive use of Church Organ and those abnormally superlative vocals, “The Contagion in Nine Steps” revealed itself to be a mind-boggling exercise of thickness, many times impenetrable intricacy that even experienced avant-garders like myself still haven’t deciphered.
Truth is, “An Antidote…” quickly became one of my all time fav BM albums, due in most part to the uncanny ambiances of utterly creepy atmosphere and daunting organized cacophony, but “The Contagion…” brought me back to earth, because I haven’t yet completely broken that impervious nature.
I listened to this EP about three times in a row, non-stop…unable to stop, really. In “Also sprach Futura”, Lychgate has been able to take a step back and then ten steps ahead by balancing their sound into something that is still pretty much ahead of the competition, seemingly combining, in their music:
And then used that subliminal and sublime Church Organ in just the perfect amount; They achieved a riffing intricacy that so many times border the transposition of the tech death aeons into blackened grounds; and they have upped their capacity to master multi-layering like no other band in the business these days.
“Incarnate” starts setting the mood with a trip back to “An Antidote…” fields, only presenting some more intricate riffs until it explodes and the vocals kick in. The music evolves freely over constant changes of pace, trusting on it’s slow pace blackened death texture with the subliminal church organ creating a religious-like experience.
The track quickly changes to “Progeny of the Singularity”, starting in a tech black metal convulsion that deltas into a prog death intricacy that then slows things down. Lychgate is into new territories here, combining the prog riffing with fingering (guitars) and doomish chants, but the cocooning is swiftly inbreed an ugly larvae that revolves in its own blackened filth, exposing moments of clarity amidst its attacks of the sensory nerves of the listener. It’s insanely good: the feeling of perplexity and atonement, while observing how the track so brilliantly presents constant subtle changes. And the layering of the instruments accompanied by the sumptuous pugnacious vocals is simply perfection.
“Simulacrum” starts eerie, almost nagging with their simple and cadence riffs that evolve to a doomy display of multi-layered guitar swirling riffs while the Mephorash meets Arcturus entwines a chorus-like harrowing tone. At around 2:15, the track accelerates into a blackened death compendium demonstrating one of the absolute winner components of the overall experience: the dual guitar playthrough, as one sets a crushing tone of simple riffage while the other elaborates intricate progressions in technical savvy. The result is astounding when combined with the vocals. The track slows again to fingering guitar/bass interlude that opens for a doomish laceration with the organ setting the atmosphere, but all sections seem rites of passage to the following ones, and the track keeps changing tempo and time signature to end in a black mayhem.
The closing “Vanity Ablaze” wraps all of the above, swirling through the church organ ambiances while the guitars prepare the listener for a display of pounding black metal that does bring early Schammasch to mind. It’s all moving, all in constant motion and everything flows incredibly despite those constant changes, demonstrating a band in control of its elements, which are aplenty.
The implausible plethora of elements, along with the control over each section and each change is just one of the components that really makes this album an achievement by itself. The other is the sheer brilliance of the result. The band experiments a lot, but always with a very clear path designed, an impeccable production and a musicality that crosses all boundaries and delivers something that can feel like an almost religious-like experience. That organ surely contributes to it, setting the atmosphere, but all the other instruments are played to perfection and, most importantly, they interact to perfection.
Many times used and therefore already becoming a cliché, the truth is that Lychgate presents more ideas and approaches in this four track EP than most bands in their whole discography. They end up working like a sort of blackened version of the 70’s prog rock masters Gentle Giant, and that says all.
I am one to go all crazy and state that this is one of the best EPs I’ve ever heard. And I am not confining my findings to metal. I am all across the spectrum of music I’ve heard in my already long life.
It will take a gargantuan effort by any other band to convince me that “Also sprach Future” will not be my choice for 2020’s AOTY. This with the pure notion that there’s ten months ahead, lots of great bands releasing albums everyday. But, really, this is HOW GOOD I think this EP is.
And stepping even one ahead, this is already one of my all time favorite metal releases, for in it’s four-track compartment, it creates an unfathomed dimension of epic proportions.
Review by Nuno Lourenço.
The British Lychgate musically represents a mix of avant-garde, doom and black metal. The band started in 2011 and has now released three full albums. Now the band has come out with a four-track EP. The short but powerful 'Incarnate' opens. Dark and threatening power, heavy sound and a kind of church organ sounds set the tone in this track that also gets heavy with deep vocals. We think the tone is set because 'Progeny of The Singularity' contains those ingredients. And yet this sounds completely different. That is due to the rather driven and energetic tempo so that it looks more like a black metal song with quirky avant-garde elements. After two minutes the tempo collapses like a pudding and you are offered a slow, slow rhythm. Over time, Lychgate play with tempo, rhythm and power so that a very varied song is created with elements doom, avant-garde and black metal, but in which box this should be accommodated, we leave it completely open. The same ingredients, in different graduations, are also covered in the other two songs, which again receive numerous twists and turns in tempo, rhythm, atmosphere and power. In total you get just over twenty minutes of enduring blackened doom / avant-garde / black metal violence. In any case, it is sufficient to convince us, even though the gentlemen were always able to spoil us extra with more songs of this quality.
Review by Luc Ghyselen.
“The Contagion in Nine Steps”, der über die Finnen von Blood Music veröffentlichte Vorgänger dieses Kurzformat, hat 2018 u.a. auch uns hier beeindruckt, nun legen LYCHGATE auf amtliche Weise nach, indem sie ihren Stil zwischen skandinavischen Avantgardisten wie Ved Buens Ende und recht klassischem Doom Metal weiter verfeinern - was auch sonst?
Schließlich stand nach der letzten LP nicht davon auszugehen, dass sich die Musiker dem Mainstream anbiedern würden, doch schwerverdaulich war und ist ihr Sound definitiv nicht. Dieser Tage widmen sich LYCHGATE dem Trans- und Posthumanismus im Zeichen früherer Vorstellungen (von Regisseur Fritz Lang und Schriftsteller Stanislaw Lem zurück bis zu Ovid) von Robotik und der Bedrohung des Menschen durch die Maschine.
Dazu haben sie sich den fiktiven Golem XIV ausgedacht, der uns intellektuell überlegen ist, und sinnieren übers Gottspielen, Weltmüdigkeit sowie eine generell düstere Zukunft. Das spiegelt sich in vielen Dissonanzen wider, die gerade deshalb so harsch wirken, weil sie mittels Kirchenorgel erzeugt werden (höre dazu bereits die Eröffnung 'Incarnate'), aber auch in zahlreichen qualvoll schleppenden Parts, die mitsamt Growls an die Begräbnisunternehmen Thergothon und Funeral erinnern.
Nach dem Intro sprengt das psychedelisch fiepende 'Progeny of the Singularity' die Grenze zur Black-Metal-Raserei und reißt unweigerlich in einen abwärtsgerichteten Strudel, der - abermals dank präsenter Orgel - kaum kräftiger sein könnte. Der gespenstische melodische Gesang und die sowieso immerzu vertrackte Rhythmik verweisen noch einmal klar nach Norwegen, konkret zu Arcturus oder Satyricon in ihrer experimentierfreudigen (und stärksten) Phase.
Apropos Psychedelic: In 'Simulacrum' sagt der von Cynic im Metal salonfähig gemachte Vocoder hallo, und auch der näselnde (Fretless?)-Bass untermauert LYCHGATEs progressiven Anspruch. Dieser zieht nun auch nach sich, dass "Also sprach Futura" extrem sperrig ist, doch mindestens einen Liebhaber (diesen Schreiber) hat die Gruppe bereits gefunden. Das abschließende 'Vanity Ablaze' wirkt regelrecht sinfonisch und macht ungeheuer gespannt auf das nächste komplette Album der Band.
FAZIT: Drastisch, kalt, futuristisch und zerstörerisch einer-, planvoll, anheimelnd und konstruktiv andererseits - LYCHGATEs jüngste EP ist ein Fest für Freunde von progressivem Extrem-Metal aus insbesondere Nordeuropa.
Review by Andreas Schiffmann.
It’s getting hard to ignore Lychgate, not that anyone should be trying. This UK based Extreme Metal band continue to push their awe-inspiring blend of Black Metal, Death, and Doom into more progressive and experimental realms with each release, and their latest EP is a case in point. Also sprach Futura is due out on Debemur Morti Productions on March 13th and illustrates beyond any doubt that Lychgate is one of the most exciting bands going right now.
For the uninitiated, Lychgate lay out their modus operandi on the short opening track “Incarnate”. Slabs of Doom reign down like massive bombs while an organ sprays napalm everywhere, then this gives way to a quick bit of blackened blasting. Then we are assaulted with a burst of progressive noodling and then more meaty Doom.
It’s easy to understand if this sounds like too much, but somehow it isn’t. Though “Incarnate” is less than three minutes long, they fold all these pieces together seamlessly.
The second song, “Progeny of the Singularity”, is almost double the length of the opener and it accomplishes that much more. After an introduction which seems to nod toward Old School Tech-Thrash, they settle into some more necrotic blast beats, which is of course underpinned by that massive organ. There are more hairpin turns and grinding before they land on a softer atmospheric passage which features some tasty, almost Jazz-Fusion-esque bass work. The last two minutes consist of more sections of exhilarating whiplash. Guitar shredding, clean vocals, blasting, Doom, more organ…the list is endless yet executed in a compact and somehow coherent way.
“Simulacrum” starts at a more measured pace. Gloomy and dripping with melodic yet mathematical guitar work, the piece eventually does find the speed again, Lychgate going full Deathspell at times. “Vanity Ablaze” closes the EP, and it brings to mind the algebraic Sludge/Doom of Confessor, but of course with more organ and blast beats. There are passages of head-nodding madness, but if you follow too closely you’ll snap your neck. The track closes with purely epic Doom, symphonic in its complexity, a requiem for a dying world.
For all its jaw-dropping intricacy, Also sprach Futura seethes with a distinct physicality. There are moments nestled inside the flurries of notes and hairpin rhythms that you can pump your fist to, throwing up the horns and screaming along, and that balance is what is steadily fueling Lychgate’s ascent. This band is undeniably powerful and incredibly original, somehow memorable despite themselves, and one can barely imagine the heights they are yet to climb.
Review by Todd Manning.
The singularity, transhumanism, self-improving AI. The idea of conscious computers is as old as sci-fi itself. Even before the advent of computers and the internet, science-fiction was obsessed with the idea of machines resembling humans. Stronger, faster, better than the real thing. With further technological advances possibility became certainty. An AI with the ability to learn and to improve itself isn’t science-fiction anymore. The question whether these capabilities can be expanded beyond hyperfocussed tasks has become a “when” not “if”.
On their latest work, British Lychgate dive headfirst into this world and what better sounds to accompany the unfeeling usurpers in their task than the cinematic avantgarde. Lychgate is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist J. Y. Vortigern who composes all of the music for the project. Greg Chandler of Esoteric and S. D. Lindsley as well as a roster of guest musicians join him in realizing his vision. Also sprach Futura is the first EP the band has released after three challenging albums that were met with acclaim and skepticism alike. Understandably so, in the face of Lychgate’s genre-defying output that prominently features an actual organ.
Prophetic in more ways than one
While previous releases by the band could resemble an exhausting exercise, Also sprach Futura appears more approachable, maybe even accessible. However, the band’s consistent strength in crafting theatrical and dense atmospheres remains intact. Also sprach Futura features some of Lychgate’s blackest material and sees the band advance on all fronts. Opener Incarnate stands out as one of the strongest tracks in the band’s entire catalog despite its brevity. Ominous organ arrangements loom in the back of the mix as melodic guitars lead the way. The virtuosic drumming takes over and segues the track into a satisfying black metal sprint.
The other tracks on the EP expand on the concept and underline that more variance in pace leads to much more dynamic and organic outcomes for the band. Instruments that previously seemed to exist in a vacuum now work in tandem. The additional instruments enrich the core of traditional metal instrumentation with their atmospheric capabilities. Despite that, the organ never takes a backseat to the rest of the music. In fact, it’s as prominent as it was during the Glass Pill era. The application is what differs and lights the way into new avenues the band will hopefully explore further.
The lyrical concept puts the finishing touch on the EP and ties everything together into a coherent frame. As always, Lychgate’s music is thematically dense and philosophical. This time, the mind of project leader Vortigern is concerned with the implications technological advancements have for the future of humanity. Drawing on myth and fiction alike, the evocative lyrics create a grim vision of our future. The contrast between the powerful instrumentation and disturbing message makes Also sprach Futura an unsettling experience unlike anything in the extreme music of recent years.
Also sprach Futura is a remarkable new step in Lychgate’s career that should turn heads even among skeptics. Vortigern unlocked new ways of expression for the band that not only align with their previous output but also point towards new strengths. The result is a more approachable but nonetheless captivating EP that doesn’t have to compromise in the slightest.
For those who have been fortunate to become familiar with this project since years and previous releases, Lychgate are almost always synonymous with quality and intense experimentation, having already completed 3 launches possessed of an idiosyncrasy without equal.
For the uninitiated, this band successfully mixes highly experimental and dissonant black metal and doom metal elements with somewhat baroque arrangements, expressed through the organ and, occasionally, other symphonic elements. If in some last release some of the organ might be missing (having the band decided to use more experimental instruments instead), the first cut, "Incarnate", brings it back with greater impact than it could have had in the rest of their catalogue. It constitutes a kind of sinister and increasingly schizophrenic martial march, before giving way to blast-beats and tremolo passages, all this anchored to the kaleidoscopic madness of the organ.
“Progeny of the Singularity” takes us to more technical and progressive territory. The guitars weave a somewhat disorienting web, but the music is played with a vitality and virtuosity that could not be seen in previous releases. The roars of Greg Chandler are not far behind and in fact they serve in many ways to anchor us in the midst of chaos.
"Simulacrum” does not immediately lower the technicality and the brutal precision that precedes it, but it marries those aspects of music in this EP with more conventionally melodic passages, with majestic results. "Vanity Ablaze" is the final cut and once again presents martial nuances with a Gothic sensation before descending into more tribal passages, only to later take out the doom influence of the band in meditative and somewhat psychedelic sections culminating in a triumphant chord courtesy of the organ, marking the end of this short but incredibly satisfying manic symphony.
It is impressive, but there is no doubt that Also sprach Futura is the best work that Vortigern and company have launched, and, taking into account the quality of its catalogue, it represents an achievement. Its only weakness is how short the whole experience is, but that only demonstrates how singularly potent his poison is, even in this small dose. Simply unmissable.
Review by Alex Irías.
Lychgate are one of the more interesting propositions in the current black metal scene with the band taking their cues from doom – vocalist Greg Chandler is in the funeral doom band Esoteric – and the avant-garde. Also sprach Futura is a twenty minute EP that brings together all elements of the Lychgate sound in a short, sharp release that showcases their grasp of the weird and their ability to twist it into something bizarrely listenable. First track “Incarnate” pushes discordant organ sounds to the fore (a technique that is used in subsequent songs) and gives Lychgate an off-axis viewpoint and the feeling that nothing is as it seems and perhaps never will be again. Chandler’s vocals are deep and rough, his growls adding texture to an already overwhelming palette of sounds.
“Progeny of the Singularity” aims to induce more of those feelings of unease further with the use of occasional clean vocals, almost choral in style, to really push the boundaries of what the rational mind can accept when it comes to musical compositions. Lychgate are doing whatever they can to twist and contort the elements of their sound into new directions - layering screams on top of dissonant instrumentation, exposing clean vocal lines in the midst of doomed guitar lines, or filtering ecclesiastical organ into the chaos in order to ramp up the tension even more.
Lychgate are true purveyors of experimentation; they are clever, and they know it.
Machine vs. man... Future meets dystopian future... Technology meets cyberpunk. This is what I'm hearing on this very futurist progressive black meets avant-doom release. The more I am listening a few bands are going to mind Oxiplegatz, Aosoth, Ihsahn, Opeth and Edge of Sanity. Lychgate previous release blew me away and I think with "Also sprach Futura" they have taken it to another level. There are some amazing sci-fi extreme meets melodic dark metal moments that are totally winning me over . I feel moments of Deathspell Omega , Ved Buen Ende and Fen are pouring into this release as well . At times Lychgate is a horror movie, at times it the grim of grimmest avant-black metal and then they become a full on prog-death force. Lychgate are all over the place and it just fucking works . Greg of Esoteric is the voice and production and recording mastermind here and it works as there are those elements of his other project but this is not a similar band at all. Lychgate like the unusual like Arcturus, Ulver, Code, DHG etc. and while never fully like those bands you get the feeling that are so much kindred spirits. I will always look forward to the next Lychgate experience and so should you.
I suppose my hopes were a wee bit dashed with this one, as the cover and title might entail that the band were heading into an industrial direction. There is even a Sorayama inspired robot waifu on said cover, which had me under the impression that the sound of machines were going to make a slight appearance here. That isn’t to say that I’m unimpressed with the EP performance however and Lychgate certainly prove that they’re skilled at creating captivating avantgarde metal with all the extremes that we’re familiar with. I’m getting slight hints of Akercocke here, albeit with mid-era Opeth riffs and perhaps even some Devin Townsend inspired spacial harmonies. Clean vocals also make an appearance, but these do not entail Lychgate entering into the commercial world of pop-metal, nor anything similar. Trust that the ghastly synths are still apparent, providing a hefty Gothic background to a style that never remains the same for too long.
A piece like “Vanity Ablaze” should be more than enough to satiate the thirst of longtime fans, but “Incarnate” manages to throw in a few sampler effects that at least give off a slightly robotic feel to the music. That being said, there is a clear sound and precision here that pushes technicality into a far darker and less forgiving territory. This isn’t the sound of musicians joyfully playing technical melodies for the sake of technical melodies, which is good because I’m tired of that. Yes, you can play the guitar quite well or at least make it sound like a different instrument other than a guitar, but where’s the atmosphere that you’re trying to create with it? Closer “Progeny Of The Singularity” does just that, as Lychgate prove that they can make even twenty minutes of music into an fantastically frantic journey by which the senses are elated and the mind flayed before our robot overlords.
My only issue is that I feel the album cover, logo design, concept and frankly; the whole lot are far too good for a twenty-minute EP. Out of the numerous covers that are thrown at me on a daily basis, this one stood out. It is also very rarely that I even give praise to cover art alone as let’s be honest with the fact that most of it is exactly what you expect. I honestly wish they would have fleshed the whole thing out and made this recording a full-length. Maybe they should go to me for advice next time when they’re looking to create an album that reflects transhumanism and advanced robotics, two things I seem to care far too much about these days. This can’t be helped, but I definitely believe there is more than enough material here, even within twenty minutes to wet your appetites. The recording is in fact so good, that I’m tempted to play again immediately after. As a matter of fact, I’ll pull out my shrine to the almighty Omnissiah while immersing myself in this majesty. Of course, a couple more songs would have been nice.
Lychgate’s An Antidote for the Glass Pill was largely the defining record of 2015 for me. I listened to it practically daily from its August release, to sometime in the early winter, and must’ve gifted it to a dozen or so friends. Then why was it absent from the EOTY list? The truth was I had burned myself out on it, refusing to stop keeping it on repeat, and by the end of the year, could hardly bear to look at it. The recovery took a long time, so long that when The Contagion in Nine Steps dropped roughly 3 years later, I wasn’t sure whether I was up for another round with Lychgate or not. As the fickle Miss Fortuna would have it, The Contagion… proved a thankfully different, but no less formidable beast and through its dulcet tones, I found myself drawn to the group once more.
Formed by the mastermind guitarist/organist Vortigern, with guitarist S. D Lindsley and Esoteric vocalist Greg Chandler, Lychgate’s avant-garde black-meets-death-meets-doom metal (infused with a strong organ presence) swims in anxiety and horrific soundscapes, permeated by an unforgiving, tense complexity, and though many things now have come and gone, leaving Lychgate to re-emerge again with reconstructed features, these remain constants on the group’s latest offering, Also sprach Futura.
While “Incarnate” opens as a crushing death/doom piece, Vortigern’s busy organ work gives it a chaotic, disorderly feeling, unattainable via more classic methods. Discomforting guitar melodies, rising, busier drumwork and bass leads courtesy of the possibly departed T. J. F. Vallely of Macabre Omen fame, and the definitely departed A. K. Webb, flesh out the band’s progressive tendencies before blast beats return the group to Terra Firma. It is a mission statement, Lychgate’s very own calling card, the essence of Also sprach Futura condensed into 3 minutes.
But with the following trio, the band gives themselves room to elaborate on these ideas. Changes, when they come, are neither as sudden nor as forcible, each motif contributing more than a thought, before giving way to the next. This allows for the discovery of more subjects in each and the development of previously introduced motifs over longer arcs, with less need of reprisal, besides the introduction of new ones. With this careful pace they accomplish much more than a hurried one, though that does not mark a lack of either tempo changes or velocity. On Also sprach Futura, Lychgate seems to have found a more direct approach to their songcraft. Every bit as avant and prog as one could hope for, but with a more natural flow, silly as it may seem to say so, as it is not something Lychgate ever particularly lacked in, but even the most sudden turns are less surprising and more contemplated here than they’ve been before. Though that is not to say that Lychgate would have become straightforward in any commonly comprehended meaning of the word, or any less awe-inspiring.
You are in for something truly monstrous with Also sprach Futura, the latest from the quasi-legendary Lychgate. Evoking massive atmospheres and twisted sonic absolution, Lychgate have always been at the fore of avant black metal. They understand the mysticism of black metal songwriting, and this latest offering a four track EP, serves to only push the bands sense of blackened absolution to the fore. They have once more come out on top with a masterful release that shows just how special they are.
Also sprach Futura is the sort of record that winds its way under your skin and claws at your sanity. Lychgate use the EP as a chance to explore bleak melodies and off kilter song structures. The mind bending madness of these songs is palpable and the band routinely and eagerly delves into odd new places for the music to go. Also sprach Futura is a challenging listen and not one that those new to the genre will get. Yet for those of us who search for Lovecraftian horrors in sonic form then the almost monolithic insanity of Lychgate is going to have a deep and thoughtful appeal. On a record that demands many listens, Lychgate continually deliver.
There is a wonderful creepiness here that only serves to make Lychgate all the more enticing. The strung out clean vocals on Simulacrum are challenging and strangely beautiful. The unexpected jazz influences and bizarro arpeggios make for unique sound worlds. While this is on Debemur Morti it sounds a little more in line with some of the releases that I, Voidhanger has made their name on. A tad frightening and wonderfully difficult to get into, Also sprach Futura has treasures worth braving its bleak exterior.
Review by Matt Bacon
According to my metaphorical book, there are mainly three types of bands/albums: the good ones, the ones that aren’t yet good and the different ones (which can also be good or the other one, but the main thing is that they are special). That being said, Also sprach Futura (something along the lines of “Thus Spoke Futura”) fits perfectly on the third group… with an evil twist.
Lychgate, the English band responsible for said obscure work, was formed in 2011 and has, since then, released three albums, being the work here reviewed their first EP and most recent release (or yet to be released). So what to say about Also sprach Futura? Well, it’s a work that finds its roots on an unusual but very enjoyable mix of black metal and doom, the first one being a bit out of the box as it is. The band dwells in some deep themes as can be seen by the name of this EP which is an adaptation of the (maybe) most relevant of work of Nietzsche “Also sprach Zarathustra”, and their sound carries throughout this whole work a truly sinister vibe, that shifts between rhythms, has a cathedral-like atmosphere in its majority and that on the whole feels musically rich (I don’t even know what I mean by this, but it is how I felt it).
Quick note on the last track, it mutates a bit on the formula adding a more epic feel to it which is, the once again metaphorical, cherry on the top.
Post-Review Comment: It’s coming out on a Friday 13th.
Review by Matias Melim.
Lychgate n’a ni pays fixe, ni style bien défini. Le groupe, formé de têtes pensantes du black pour la plupart, sort ici son troisième album . Un disque aux six titres pas trop longs mais terriblement complexes et progressifs. Des titres qui alternent entre moments épiques, souffles malsains et folie pure. Ceux qui ont fait connaissance avec le groupe dès l’album éponyme de 2013 ne seront pas totalement désappointés, bien que le collectif aille encore plus loin ici, en gommant les riffs les plus black au profit d’un riffing mid tempo qui puise dans le prog, le doom, le post hardcore, et l’avant-garde. De fait « The contagion in nine steps » évoque parfois (souvent ?) une version réactualisée (et peut-être plus torturée et capillotractée) d’un Arcturus. Ah ben oui, désolé, je sais que c’est une référence que je vous ressort souvent, mais cette alternance de flamboyance et d’expériences de petit chimiste du metal extrême, et cette théâtralité, certes ici plus souvent exprimée à travers la musicalité cyclothymique que par le chant, mais bien présente tout de même, ne trompent pas. Mais pour préciser les choses, ce disque est plus proche d’un « Sham mirrors » que de mon album-culte. On parle aussi pas mal de l’extravagance noire d’un Ihsahn, et il y a de l’idée, mais pour moi Lychgate est plus accessible que ce dernier et peut-être moins que les premiers. Cela signifie, c’est évident, que « The contagion in nine steps » n’est clairement pas le disque à mettre dans toutes les oreilles, qu’il nécessite attention, implication et répétition pour être appréhendé dans sa riche globalité. Mais que du coup, sa durée de vie s’en trouve multipliée, et que ses qualités sont telles que ces efforts seront récompensés !
Review by Marc Poteaux
This is one of those records which just happens to you. It finds you. Like a summer storm on a sunny day outside, like a momentary experience of a deja vu. Like a dream within a dream. Like a dark matter crossing the infinite. And that’s the main reason that the present review wasn’t easy to write at all. At the end of the day I decided just to play the record and to write down everything I was feeling while listening. No special preparation, no notes, just lines pushed by all the emotions.
Lychgate’s music is like an ambivalent paradox, a multidimensional question, a constant throw and pushes into finding the right decision for the key combination. A dichotomy of breathing black and white. An attraction of opposites. It is a labyrinth into the space, a quest, like a lifetime searching for the answers to the eternal questions. Imagine moving into endless corridors of space station, running, wandering and wondering, sometimes even finding a fields without gravitation, so you are just floating in the air...
OK, enough with the science fiction and the metaphysics and metaphors. However, this is not that much possible when reviewing “Contagion in Nine Steps”. Lychagate simply delivers an astonishing effort. “The album is inspired by Stanslav Lem’s book “The Invincible” and all the historical and philosophical sources on the idea of swarm behaviour in crowds and civilisations from the era of Plato to Le Bon and the modern era.” And even though I am not into Lem’s science fiction heritage and characters, I would say I really found “Contagion in Nine Steps” very contagious and addictive. This third record of the English band from London certainly requires special mood and state of mind. Just because these 42 minutes, wrapped in 6 special forms of own life, deserve serious attention and imagination. “Contagion…” is an album that can’t be just played. It must be listened to carefully, several times, and then experienced. “What’s the style?”, you may ask. Well, it is space avant-garde, black, doom. There are from clean to aggressive growling vocals presented, drowning into choir or operatic passages, heavy guitars and melodic solos. An organ playing from the in a solemn hall of the corner of your cosmic sleep, a piano and a mellotron. The music is a roller coaster taking you up to the stars and drowning you suddenly down into black space holes – that much variations, layers, textures and imaginations.
I strongly recommend “Contagion in Nine Steps” nevertheless you like or dislike Lem’s book. It is a record for all those who live an breath the mysteries in music. The explorers. Those who dare. Those who are not following the flock of sheep. It is for the connoisseurs only.
Review by Count Vlad
Nice, that cover by the totally unknown Michael Guy is the perfect lead-in because I've been waiting to use the word 'scholarly' in reference to metal so I can feel like I'm above everyone else. Actually I already have presented myself as such, but this makes it official, and I should get an honorary degree. Probably from some music department at Harvard or something. And that self-fellating intro brings us to this one, The Contagion in Nine Steps, from the masterful force that is Lychgate. Did you think the cocky higher-eduction references were just for fun? Think again, because this album requires practically post-doc knowledge to understand any of it. If you always wanted to call yourself a doctor of (insert field here), listening to this is essentially like taking all the courses, passing your comprehensive exams, publishing research, and then not being able to find a job. Join the fun!
Trust me when I say you're not ready for this. That's actually me speaking to myself because goddamn I'm still not ready for this. There comes a point when you need to step outside the ordinary. I did that long ago. Christ I can't sit at a recital for five-year-olds without saying to myself "horrible arpeggio there" or "practice that pedal work, fool." But this, this horror that is The Contagion in Nine Steps still has me in stroke mode. I've been listening to it for weeks and each time I step maybe a millimeter towards the vast 100-kilometer distance before me in understanding any of it. Like the gate into the cemetery 'Lychgate' refers to, this is your trip into the grave of "nothing makes sense anymore." Lychgate are absolutely without form here. They confront, they find ways to make even goddamn organ sound good, there is simply not enough I could say to sound like I understand. The Contagion in Nine Steps is the deepest of thoughts in metal. I was going to crown it as 'canon,' but the primary complaint is its depth is a divider. This is not for the majority, or the minority. It's not even for the band itself it's so far removed from the usual sound of even the most "experimental" of metal bands. Truly bizarre, as I had hoped, and this is its only fault. Lychgate would have done much better to draw in the listener with at least the occasional riff smash, but they forwent this entirely. I call it apocrypha merely because it makes it that much more unlikely anyone but me will listen to it. This does not divide fans, it severs itself entirely from any fandom.
Written by Stanley Stepanic
The Contagion in Nine Steps is a six-part symphony blending pensive doom, avant garde black metal and psychoactive ambient prog, all composed and performed by some major players of the modern UK scene. For the third time now, these seemingly disparate egos have cooperated to bring forth a visionary album of sprawling proportions.
Inspired by a Stanislaw Lem novel, as well as a backbreaking book bag full of other philosophical heavyweights including Plato, Hegel (hey, don't look at me) and Le Bon, as well as featuring several guest appearances along the way, like the crystal-voiced Chris Hawkins, who also sings for Endeavour, apparently. (Confessor vibes there, remember to investigate). While Vladimir Antonov-Charsky's contributions on organ, piano and mellotron are this humble reviewer's favourite aspect of Nine Steps. Among masters of atmospheric music, this young Lithuanian artist more than holds his own. Point being, all of these factors lend The Contagion in Nine Steps a meta-album quality. More than dense, The Contagion is fully immersive. When swarmed upon by those frantic early moments of the opening track, 'Republic', the listener simultaneously understands that this will be an experience both demanding and rewarding.
Then, before you know it, those enticing melodies of 'Atavistic Hypnosis' are the leaden raindrops of 'The Contagion', and it's your third time in a row jamming it. The Contagion in Nine Steps comes at a cost and takes its toll. Hostile and dangerous for anyone after a simple curstory listen, but mind-expanding for those who approach it seriously.
Review by Dutch Pearce
I find it hard to talk about avant-garde music; the more difficult to talk, the more enjoyable is to listen to. Bold, atmospheric and assertive, eclectic UK metal band Lychgate long awaited new studio album “The Contagion In Nine Steps” is a hybrid of genres and influences with a real demand to push the boundaries of avant-garde metal.
“The Contagion In Nine Steps” is some sort of challenging cinematic experience for your ears and best served with your headphones on in a dark room when you have the patience to dig deeper into the concept.
We can easily distinguish church-organ, piano and operatic vocals that carry the whole weight of the album, providing a huge solemn atmosphere through the whole record.
The song structure is very good. It is somewhat progressive, as the songs often change and songs often end quite differently from how they started. There`s little use of repetition and the transitions always feel natural, and none of the changes in tempos or melodies feel awkward or out of place. On to the music itself: it’s cold, harsh, dark, truly an album made for the dark night of the soul.
The songs constantly morphs and changes its shape to something different every minute it goes on. The horror-film-like atmosphere, along with the mad genius that lurks behind Lychgate are perfectly blended and becomes extremely hypnotizing the deeper you go into the song.
The church organ instrumentation present in many songs and the genre fusions works in an absolutely stellar way.
“Republic”, the first song of the album, opens up unexpectedly delightful. Greg Chandler of Esoteric and Vortigern (James Young) of The One made the vocal parts and this is among my favourite element on the album as it is mournful, haunting and sometimes clean which can be rare for this kind of music.There is a distinct harmonious yet frightening atmosphere when the guitar tone and vocals crossover.
“Unity of Opposites” starts with a haunting guitar-riff and then transcends into a gregorian chant. This is the moment when the album really follows the “expect the unexpected” principle.
On the third song named “Atavistic Hypnosis”, no matter how dense or frantic the music gets, everything can be heard and appreciated to its fullest potential. Here I was moved by the classical construction of the song. It’s almost a classic overture.
The darkest song of the album is “Hither Comes the Swarm”. The terror-bringing keyboards of Vortigern are as astounding as his emotionally nuanced style of singing.
“The Contagion” shows yet again the band taking new elements and transforming previous ones to paint new landscapes. It somehow has the feeling of a classic epic-doom song, somewhere between Solitude Aeturnus and Cathedral.
While “Unity Of Opposites” will surely have an immediate impact, it was in tracks such as “The Contagion,” and “Remembrance” that hidden elements began to surface.
The drums sound is minimalist, but very well anchored in the theme and was provided by perhaps one of the most imposing drummers in black metal today Tom Vallely (Acherontas, Macabre Omen), and the bass part played by A K Webb is well integrated in the album structure.
Often have I sat with this album on repeat, and I never grow tired of it. There is so much to discover on this album that it will most likely require several listens that will demand your full attention.
Lychgate seems to be striving to transcend the stereotypes of being a metal band. They really know how to create tones that have a wealth of character, melodrama and emotion. I see this album like a grand experiment that succeeded deeply.
Review by Alina Gafu
Lychgate has specialized in creating albums that flee from the clichés most found within the metal, merging elements of classical music with extreme strands of metal in order to create their own sound, something that you can distinguish almost immediately as one of the music made by the British group to start playing. And in his most recent work, The Contagion In Nine Steps. the band may have created the most fascinating album in their discography.
There is an initial sense of strangeness, but not in the sense that the band creates music for that purpose, the way it merges all those elements from classical music, Black Metal and Doom Metal, is simply beautiful and thought-provoking, escaping from what you might consider as the most common coming from extreme scene bands that try to get out of the rut.
The use of organ and piano throughout the disc is undoubtedly something to be praised over and over again. Since opening with the Republic track , they add a morbid and mysterious layer to Lychgate's music, as if the Phantom of the Opera itself was a member of the band.
The whole process of instrumentation in The Contagion In Nine Steps is incredible. In addition to having the opportunity to perceive and feel each instrument neatly in a perfect balance. There are a number of variations and progressive dynamics in Lychgate's music that prevent the tracks from becoming long and tiresome journeys. Each plays a role within the approach chosen by the group that in this album was inspired by the book "The Invincible" by Stanislaw Lem, some giving more emphasis in these elements of classical music and others channeling the energy of the extreme slopes present in the music of the band , as in the track 'Unity of Opposites' .
And for a band that has such a rich and diverse musical palette, it is to be expected that such a characteristic is also represented in vocal performance. And fortunately, it is. Beginning with operatic vocals that complement and elevate the sense of depth of the tracks (like the Republic already mentioned), the raging guttural and inhuman screams that spread through the tracks 'Hither Comes The Swarm' and 'The Contagion' . Or even the powerful, emotion-filled clean vocals in the Remembrance closing track , Lychgate seems to be careful of every small detail so the album can channel all the creativity the band has demonstrated over the years.
Lychgate can dare, reinvent and demonstrate an absolutely expressive and moving inspiration in The Contagion In Nine Steps. It is a masterful work that is constantly evolving and I recommend to all those who expect something different and well elaborated coming from the darkest corners of the metal.
Review by Tiago
Lychgate tem se especializado em criar álbuns que fujam dos clichês mais encontrados dentro do metal , fundindo elementos da música clássica com vertentes extremas do metal com o intuito de criar sua própria sonoridade, algo que você possa distinguir quase que imediatamente assim que uma das música feitas pelo grupo britânico comece a tocar. E em seu trabalho mais recente, The Contagion In Nine Steps. a banda pode ter criado o álbum mais fascinante em sua discografia.
Há uma sensação inicial de estranheza, mas não no sentido de que a banda crie música com esse intuito, a forma como ela mescla todos esses elementos vindos da música clássica, Black Metal e Doom Metal, é simplesmente bela e instigante, fugindo daquilo que você poderia considerar como o mais comum vindo de bandas da cena extrema que tentam sair da rotina.
O uso do órgão e piano ao longo do disco é sem dúvida algo para ser elogiado várias e várias vezes. Desde a abertura com a faixa ‘Republic’, eles adicionam uma camada mórbida e misteriosa à música da Lychgate, como se o próprio Fantasma da Ópera fosse um membro da banda.
Todo o processo de instrumentação em The Contagion In Nine Steps é incrível. Além de termos a oportunidade de perceber e sentir nitidamente cada instrumento em um perfeito equilíbrio. Há uma série de variações e dinâmicas progressivas na música da Lychgate que impedem que as faixas se tornem longas e cansativas jornadas. Cada uma delas desempenha um papel dentro da abordagem escolhida pelo grupo que neste álbum foi inspirado pelo livro “A Nave Invencivel” do Stanislaw Lem, algumas dando mais ênfase nesses elementos da música clássica e outras canalizando a energia das vertentes extremas presentes na música da banda, como na faixa ‘Unity of Opposites’.
E para uma banda que possui uma paleta musical tão rica e diversificada, é de se esperar que tal característica seja também representada na performance vocal. E felizmente, ela é. Partindo de vocais operísticos que complementam e elevam a sensação de profundidade das faixas (como a já citada ‘Republic’), à guturais enfurecidos e berros inumanos que se espalham através das faixas ‘Hither Comes The Swarm’ e ‘The Contagion’. Ou mesmo os vocais limpos poderosos e repletos de emoção na faixa de encerramento ‘Remembrance’, a Lychgate parece ter cuidado de cada mínimo detalhe para que o álbum canalizasse toda criatividade que a banda têm demonstrado ao longo do anos.
A Lychgate consegue ousar, reinventar e demonstrar uma inspiração absolutamente expressiva e tocante em The Contagion In Nine Steps. É um trabalho magistral que está em constante evolução e que eu recomendo à todos aqueles que esperam algo diferente e bem elaborado vindo dos cantos mais sombrios do metal.
VERDIKT: Lychgate dál rozšiřují a prohlubují svůj neuchopitelný opar metalové psychedelie, ve kterém se mísí vlivy klasiky a avantgardy. Nahlédněme do duše člověka, který se dal na studium rojové inteligence. Je to doom metalista a vyšiluje.
Lychgate patří mezi zvláštní kapely. Mezi ty svébytné a tvrdohlavé. Mezi takové, které když listují obsahem vlastní sbírky, tak už předmluva uspí nejednoho čtenáře, aby po chvíli při čtení knihy samotné podivně pookřál a propadl umění, jímž se kapela prezentuje. Jímž dominuje. Udává nestálou polohu avantgardní magie, kterému zdatně sekundují varhany a mlhovina původního nevědění. Jako ty postavy, které když spatříte, tak teatrálně přehodí svůj plášť přes tvář a stejně teatrálně prchají napříč sálem. Podivíni, kteří své podivínství umí hrdě stavět na odiv a šlechtit jej do té míry, aby probudili dojem uznání a ono podivínství předali i duši posluchače. Ten se stává figurkou v jejich světě, dobrovolně zkoušeným nevolníkem, bojující živou bytostí podstupující nejedno dobrodružství. Ale tady je třeba zastavit...
... ano, muziku Lychgate můžeme brát jako teatrální, ovšem tahle teatrálnost není přehrávaná. Důkazem budiž třetí album The Contagion In Nine Steps. Studené, pochmurné, tajuplné. Daleko od eskapád a ještě dál od kabaretnictví. Má duši samotáře, křičícího, nešťastného. Ventiluje projevy podivínství spojením avantgardy, doom metalu a celkového duševního vyčerpání či přerodu v něco víc...
Je jiné. Při vší úctě k dosavadnímu projevu kapely, vyloženě jsem si nepřál hrabat se v její minulosti a hledat staré receptury, jak udělat album zvláštním a přitom třímajícím v rukou bohatý rodokmen předurčující její existenci k aristokratické vrstvě metalové rodiny pocházející z britského ostrova (namátkou Akercocke, A Forest Of Stars, ale třeba i Esoteric...). Soustředil jsem se pouze a jenom na novou práci, jak se nakazit během devíti kroků k tomu vedoucích. Jak vnímat The Contagion In Nine Steps.
Album čerpá z díla polského spisovatele a filosofa Stanisława Lema, jmenovitě z Nepřemožitelného a dále bylo ovlivněno filosoficko-historickými prameny studujícími rojové chování od dob Platona až po Le Bona. Rojová inteligence je termín popisující chování v davu, v jednom hejnu, přičemž inteligence davu > inteligence jednotlivce. V tomto případě dám na možnost vzájemného protikladu. Představuji si člověka uzavřeného ve svém světě studia davu. Začne vyšilovat, předvídat, domýšlet absurdní situace, ke kterým by mohlo sotva kdy dojít. Začne duševně strádat, užírat se, příliš se uzavře, ačkoli se domnívá, že je blízko své pravdy, svého objevu. Mysl najednou nepracuje v mezích normálu, ale snaží si najít nový pevný bod, který ve skutečnosti pevným není ani trochu. Je mimo reál. Je sám a přitom završil výuku o chování mezi ostatními...
Tady bych o něco snadněji navázal. Album The Contagion In Nine Steps nabízí více úhlů pohledů. Hudebně jde o (až na výjimky) pomalý mix avantgardy, doom metalu, psychedelie a vážné hudby. Pocitově jde o studenou, poměrně strnulou záležitost s až hororově děsivou epikou, kterou lze považovat za surrealistickou a svým způsobem futurologickou, ačkoliv nejspíš jen v jistém smyslu. Je v tom ta stará škola aristokratického, přístupu, vlivy baroka, dopady samotářství. Spojte si vše a sami uvidíte. Jakkoli to může znít bláznivě...
Varhany, chorály, těžce uchopitelná, přesto podmanivá atmosféra. V náznacích připomínající Arcturus, což jsem vůbec nečekal, ale děje se tak. Pokud bych měl současné Lychgate nějak definovat, použiji trochu neohrabané spojení Esoteric a Arcturus a mám skoro splněno. Je to v podstatě stejné jako v přirovnáních výše. Nořit se do atmosféry alba je složité, přesto již zpočátku cítíte, že objevujete něco mocné, něco, co popírá původní dojem neprostupnosti. Je v tom zkrátka něco víc...
A teď už zbývá zodpovědět jen jednu věc - kdy už sakra vyjdou noví Esoteric...?
Review by Victimer
Troisième album et nouvelle évolution pour Lychgate. Le groupe anglais mené par sa tête pensante Vortigern poursuit sa quête doom/black metal théâtralo-avant-gardiste mais jouant sur The Contagion In Nine Steps avec plus de retenue sur les orchestrations sans pour autant perdre cette atmosphère d’église abandonnée…
« Republic » nous accueille de manière très singulière avec cet orgue dégingandé avant que le reste du groupe ne se joigne à la fête. Ce titre d’ouverture très haché dévoile l’univers unique de Lychgate, les guitares étant accordées très bas ou partant dans des variations très mélodiques, un peu de piano s’amenant aussi parfois. Puis il y a cette voix, ou plutôt ces voix ! La principale, assurée par Greg Chandler (Esoteric), est rocailleuse comme les murs résonnants de l’édifice sacré où le groupe joue. Or, celle-ci se tait régulièrement pour laisser l’atmosphère instrumentale faire son effet, ou bien pour que les chœurs quasi grégoriens ne vienne affirmer le caractère religieux de l’ambiance, puis il y a ces autres vocalises clean assurées par Alexandros Antoniou (Macabre Omen), notamment pendant le funeral doom « Atavistic Hypnosis ». Bref, une diversité bienvenue aidant à s’immerger dans cette lente litanie.
Et s’immerger dans cet album, aussi exigeant qu’il apparaisse, vaut la peine. Notamment pour (re)découvrir l’oeuvre littéraire sur laquelle cet album est basée, en l’occurrence « L’Invincible », roman de science-fiction de l’écrivain polonais Stanislas Lem. Bon, j’avoue être néophyte avec cet auteur et que l’étude des lyrics m’ont un peu donné la migraine, mais cet album peut aussi très bien s’écouter sans cela (et heureusement !). Mais il vous faudra tout de même vous armer de persévérance car The Contagion In Nine Steps ne dévoile pas ses charmes en une seule écoute !
En effet, chaque titre possède de multiples tiroirs remplis de très nombreux éléments s’éclairant peu à peu mais conservant quoi qu’il arrive leur aspect sinistre. Mais de cette lugubre base doom death, des moments sortent du lot comme l’emballement soudain de « Hither Comes The Swarm » avec une rythmique revue à la hausse pendant quelques instants pour mieux retourner titiller les profondeurs (le final avec écho dans la voix est glaçant). Lychgate conserve aussi cet attrait pour les harmonies singulières héritées d’un Arcturus, voire d’un Emperor période Prometheus au niveau de certaines parties de guitare, celles-ci se mariant parfaitement avec la lenteur générale de l’ensemble. On notera aussi que la conclusion « Remembrance » sonne forcément plus lumineux avec son unique chant clair et ses notes plus aériennes.
Pas simple à appréhender, ce nouvel album de Lychgate demande de multiples écoutes avant de parvenir à être compréhensible et apprécié comme il se doit. Un nouveau tour de force de la part de ces anglais avant-gardistes refusant facilité et stagnation.
Review by Beunz
I recently went on the Blood Music website on a whim and was surprised to see that Lychgate had a new record out, so I jumped right on it. I was a huge fan of this project’s previous album ‘An Antidote for the Glass Pill’, which really took me by storm and rotated heavily for months.
Let’s set one thing straight! ‘The Contagion in Nine Steps’ is a completely different beast than its predecessor. Obviously the super prominent organ still dominates the vibe of this band, but the six compositions sound a lot more spacious and more progressive.
The polyrhythmic approach is still there and probably even more obvious, now that Lychgate operate at a much slower pace, but they practically got rid of a lot of the Black Metal-influence and the blistering pace it brought with it.
But even without that, things still get very gloomy on ‘The Contagion in Nine Steps’. Just check the pitch black ‘Hither Comes the Swarm’ and let it draw you right into its void. When it hits the 2 minute mark, we have certainly reached the darkest point of the record. Moments like these are what help this release grow on me and gladly, there are quite a few of them across the six songs.
What may take some getting used to for some of you are the various (clean) vocal styles. From very low-pitched, mantric and almost spoken word to higher pitched, epic vocals and even choirs, Lychgate cover quite the range. The Black Metal-ish screams are down to a bare minimum, though – but when they hit, their impact is intense!
I gotta be honest: My first impression of ‘The Contagion in Nine Steps’ was more of a letdown. The slow pace, progressive approach and lack of Black Metal fury made it seem like most of the things I loved about Lychgate had changed. But I keep coming back to this record and it is an absolute grower.
The intricate compositions and depth of this material make this album sound like an evil Metal Opera and if anything, Lychgate prove yet again how ambitious they are as a creative collective. You will have to give it some serious time to unfold its full scope, though!
And the fact that Lychgate are playing 7- and 8-strings in ways that are anything but obvious is another big plus. I didn’t even consider the possibility until I saw some live photos. Lots of surprises with this one, but if you have an open mind, you will be rewarded with a very interesting album.
Review by simonXsludge
An Antidote for the Glass Pill was one of my favourite releases of 2015. This one is better.
Lychgate is usually classed as a black metal band, and while there is certainly a heavy black element present, the band continues to push the envelope of what extreme metal can be. There is a strong pipe organ presence in many of the tracks, and the compositions don’t abide by any straightforward metal progression.
Like in much classical music, it’s not any kind of verse–chorus structure that binds the tracks together, but a repetition of motifs and colourings. The second and standout track “Unity of Opposites” is a prefect example, with the recognisable main theme returning at different points throughout a piece that is extremely diverse.
What is great on this album is the increased diversity of vocal styles, ranging from extreme metal screams and growls to more chant-like sections, as well as the occasional soaring, slightly raw, single voice. This is something that can safely be left to vocalist Greg Chandler, of Esoteric fame.
And perhaps it’s that influence too that led to a funeral doom track such as “Atavistic Hypnosis”, a track that, like the others, displays a strong influence from classical composition, not just in its piano and organ melodies, but also in the way the guitars accentuate the whole. Trust me, not many bands can pull this off.
I’m not going to give you a complete play-by-play, although the other tracks are definitely not inferior to these two. What you should know is that The Contagion in Nine Steps is the kind of album that can take your mind places where it would not usually venture. It’s dark, yes, but not oppressive, more fascinating than forbidding, an essential album for those who like their metal to be adventurous, ambitious, and uncompromising in its vision.
Reviewed by Μηλινόη
Si vous suivez un peu les chroniques ici, vous connaissez déjà Lychgate, je vous en ai parlé à deux reprises pour leurs deux premiers albums. Ces cinglés sont de retour avec "The Contagion In Nine Steps" et quelque chose me dit qu'on va passer un sale quart d'heure.
L'orgue dont le groupe se sert régulièrement s'exprime dès le début de "Republic" et donne au morceau un air de fête foraine ou de cirque glauque peuplé de clowns désarticulés. Une belle façon de nous indiquer que la santé mentale de Lychgate ne s'est vraiment pas arrangée avec le temps, j'ai même l'impression que le groupe devient de plus en plus fou avec le temps. Sa musique est déconnectée de la réalité, nous faisant plonger dans la tête d'une bande de psychotiques qui se créent un univers malsain, oppressant, effrayant. Difficile une fois de plus de poser une étiquette là-dessus, ça emprunte au doom, au black, au death, mais la personnalité du groupe est tellement affirmée et son univers tellement personnel que tout ça s'efface bien vite devant un monde cohérent et sorti de quelques cerveaux sûrement malades. Les morceaux sont évidemment assez longs, entre six et neuf minutes en gros, et prennent le temps de développer un climat dérangé et dérangeant. Le chant de Greg Chandler est lui aussi toujours aussi habité et quand il n'est pas en train de balancer des growls profonds et menaçants c'est pour se mettre à hurler comme un dément. "Unity Of Opposites" développe des structures tordues avec des riffs assez techniques qui tissent une toile de laquelle il va être bien difficile de se défaire, le tout soutenu par des chœurs proches de la musique grégorienne histoire d'appuyer encore une ambiance qui était déjà bien assez glauque comme ça. Si vous voulez de l'extrême, vous êtes servis avec Lychgate, pas besoin d'aller fouiller dans les tréfonds des groupes de brutal je ne sais quoi.
Cette musique fait peur et pourtant elle sait faire preuve de beauté, les chœurs sur "Atavistic Hypnosis" amènent une dimension un peu plus humaine à cette musique totalement aliénante. Si la plupart des groupes de black metal pensent avoir l'air dangereux, malsains ou effrayants qu'ils jettent une oreille à la musique de Lychgate. La preuve par mille que même sans la moindre trace d'agression musicale, un groupe peut vous faire du mal, Lychgate ne vous broie pas les tympans à coup de blasts ou de riffs de dix tonnes. Non, il vous dissout dans son malaise, vous emmène avec lui dans un univers dont vous ne soupçonniez pas l'existence et que vous auriez préféré continuer d'ignorer. Au-delà de toute étiquette, de tout conformisme ou de toute convention, la musique de Lychgate déploie sa toile poisseuse et y piège toutes les âmes égarées qui auraient le malheur de passer par là. "The Contagion In Nine Steps" ne vous offre que le tourment, les hallucinations vous guettent, votre contact avec la réalité s'amenuise et vous finissez par sombrer dans cet univers de cinglé. Et tout ça en une petite quarantaine de minutes seulement, pas besoin de deux heures pour cette musique fasse son effet. Encore une fois, on sent le savoir-faire en termes de composition, l'authenticité de la chose, les morceaux ne sont pas bâtis sur des structures conventionnelles mais ne se perdent jamais en route et coulent de source.
Nouvel album dans lignée de ses deux prédécesseurs, Lychgate suit son propre chemin et nous amène encore une horreur sonore qui devrait provoquer des cauchemars pendant un bon moment. Si vous voulez de l'extrême, vous avez frappé à la bonne porte, ce troisième album est aussi flippant que ses deux grands frères et donc totalement recommandable (si vous êtes maso comme moi).
London-based Lychgate have once again blessed the congregation with an occult liturgy.
I was profoundly pleased with the previous album, An Antidote for the Glass Pill (2015), but sceptical as to whether The Contagion in Nine Steps would be able to maintain the same eminent level of quality.
Not much indicated that at first listen, as the album simply sounded a bit messy. But the most ingenious music often keeps the cards close to the chest. The brilliancy of the hidden details are rarely revealed immediately.
The structures of 42 minutes long The Contagion in Nine Steps has a persistent texture of disorder. A chaotic façade hiding intricate patterns. Not only does the music have a painstakingly planned structure that still feels oh-so randomly arranged with its abstract irregularities of strange melodies and extravagant rhythmic schemes. It also has a secret weapon, that which I (with all lack of respect) intend to reveal: A mad-as-a-hatter megalomaniac scientist plays a powerful pipe organ while the choir tries to keep up with rhythm and tone. We can only hope that we'll never learn what utter insane thoughts of annihilation and world domination flutter through the delirious mind of this manic organist.
Connoisseurs will admittedly already be aware of this “secret weapon”. And the role as “mad scientist” is this time being portrayed by Lithuanian-born Russian Vladimir Antonov-Charsky. We also find guest contributions from Alexandros of Macabre Omen on vocals, along with the band's own vocalist Greg Chandler, as well as some vocal from Chris Hawkins (Endeavour). It must also be mentioned that the album has been mixed and mastered by Jaime Gómez Arellano in his Orgone studios. The sound is loud and clear, rich, resounding and very dynamic (DR9).
The music on The Contagion... emit a sense of contemporary art, jazz and improvisational profane church concert, but when all the pieces fall into place, it testifies to the necessary underlying painstaking planning. No matter how cliché it sounds, the music becomes a hypnotic seance where words simply fall short. Each of the six songs finds its natural place on a work that twists and distort conventional musical recipes out of proportions. A creation that mangles those familiar concepts, till only psychedelic occult idolatry remains. This makes The Contagion in Nine Steps come across as a thoroughly unique and idiosyncratic experience. Lychgate once again delivers genuinely brilliant madness.
For the nerds out there, it can also be said that the album's concept, inspired by the book The Invincible by Polish Stanisław Lems, is based on crowd psychology and collective behaviour from a philosophical point of view through various historically cultural stages of the shifting forms of European societies.
Lychgate's three albums can be explored on the band's own Bandcamp site, while their label Blood Music offers the digital version for an optional price. An offer you shouldn't miss out on.
Review by Roger (AKA Gorger)
Welcome back to the latest installment of “Does Scott Actually Enjoy Symphonic Black Metal?” The saga first began with our For Fans of Emperor feature, whom I always considered “one of the good ones” when it came to symphonic BM. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find a relevant recommendation that I genuinely enjoyed; that is, until I stumbled upon An Antidote for the Glass Pill. Coincidentally enough, I just wrote about how bands can successfully avoid the “sophomore slump” in our March edition of Death’s Door, word vomit which is applicable to Lychgate’s phenomenal second outing into the world of avant-garde symphonic BM. As I wrote for our Emperor piece, “Every twisted organ and echoing oddity conjures the feeling of a desolate church haunted by a horrendous past being torn to shreds by the spectres that endlessly roam its halls. Emperor’s persistent, ripping BM and steadily broadening progressive experimentations are obviously channeled here, and the results Lychgate achieve should intrigue even the most fervent symphonic BM detractor.”
While I’m not sure the “junior slump” is a collectively understood phenomenon, The Contagion in Nine Steps is an ambitious record that serves as an example of how to avoid this entirely. From the enhanced symphonic elements to the bold, invigorated riffs to the sweeping compositions, Lychgate’s third offering is an exceptional testament to how broad a pallette black metal bands are afforded by the genre’s sonic scope. Though noticeably lacking in speed this time around, Lychgate prove with Contagion that slow and mid-paced black metal allows access to a different side of the genre, which is in many ways superior to blastbeat-laden tremolo assaults just for the sake of hitting as high a BPM as possible. The melodies written by guitarists S.D. Lindsley and J. C. Young “Vortigern” are woven perfectly with epic passages of organ, synth and piano, creating a spellbinding, cinematic landscape on every track. The vast atmospheres provide Greg Chandler with ample room to shine, and he belts out some truly impressive singing and screaming throughout the album. The album is as close to a black metal opera as one could hope to experience, and as of right now, it also holds the distinction as the only essential symphonic BM album of the year thus far. Seriously, even if you’re a genre skeptic or a casual listener like myself, Lychgate’s style offers a fresh take full of gems that might surprise even the most ardent detractors of the subgenre.
Review by Scott Murphy
LYCHGATE’S DEADLY ‘THE CONTAGION IN NINE STEPS’ IS ALBUM OF THE YEAR MATERIAL.
Stop what you’re doing, unless what you’re doing is jamming Lychgate’s The Contagion in Nine Steps. The British avant-garde black metallers are back with their third studio album and it’s absolutely essential listening for 2018.
The Contagion in Nine Steps is one of the most dynamic records you’ll hear this year, with each experimental transition refined at an Opeth or Paradise Lost level. Along with fiendishly heavy guitars and Luciferian vocals, Lychgate put a huge emphasis on organ, piano and mellotron. The result is something between black metal, progressive death metal, King Diamond, Bach, ancient chant and funeral doom.
This may sound like jamming 10 pounds of influence into a five pound bag, but each piece of Lychgate’s puzzle is perfectly crafted for a snug interlock. The themes within The Contagion in Nine Steps are just as ambitious, inspired by the swarm behavior exhibited caused by machines in Stanislaw Lem’s book The Invincible along with the philosophy of Plato, Hegel, Le Bon and Canetti.
“As with many dystopian works which inspire this project, I prefer to think of the ninth step as being characteristic of numerous negative traits – evidence of a downturn in a civilization – traits which make me pessimistic,” guitarist J. xC. Young ‘Vortigern’ tells Metal Injection, who premiered the full Contagion album stream.
This album is a beast with a thousand faces and it could soon be regarded as a masterwork of 2010s metal. The Contagion in Nine Steps will be released March 30 via Blood Music, but you can stream the album in full above.
Review by Graham Hartmann.
Lychgate tentokrát progresivnější, doomovější a podivnější. A opět, přes drobné výhrady, vynikající.
LychgatePokud jsem před třemi roky v recenzi na An Antidote for the Glass Pill psal, že poslech desky zabere delší čas ke zpracování (pochopení), u The Contagion in Nine Steps to platí zrovna tak, možná i dvojnásob. Lychgate sice zpomalili, deska je doomovější, ale také komplikovanější, progresivnější, avantgardnější („“) a divnější. Zpočátku jsem měl problém se vůbec ve struktuře skladeb a některých partech zorientovat. Zároveň se mi ale už dlouho nestalo, aby mě nějaká metalová deska tak moc zaujala a aby mě něco nutilo se k ní neustále vracet a poslouchat ji tak často, a to i přesto, že mě jisté prvky a pasáže částečně iritovaly.
Na předchozí nahrávce byly do značné míry vůdčím nástrojem varhany. Ty jsou sice opět přítomné a v některých skladbách stále výrazné, ovšem už ne tolik jako dříve a třeba v Unity of Opposities zazní jen v závěru. Inspirace v klasické hudbě od baroka do 20. století je stále jasně zřetelná, Vortigern prý většinu hudby znovu složil u piana, deska je však více postavená na kytarách. Jejich linky jsou tu občas tak složité a propletené, že je těžké všechny ty polyfonie a kontrapunkty stíhat a „uposlouchat“. V pár místech mě dokonce i napadlo cosi o přehnaném „pidlikání“, ale tenhle pocit se, stejně jako většina prvotních negativních dojmů, postupně dosti zmírnil, resp. téměř úplně vytratil. Lychgate navíc umí skvěle ty složitější, někdy až roztříštěně působící party vyvážit poměrně chytlavými, hutnými, silnými riffy. Ono to zkrátka všechno pomalu začne zapadat do sebe a dávat smysl. Kromě kytar zaujmou i v mixu oproti dřívějšku vytaženější linky baskytary A. K. Webba, zní místy až lehce najazzle – bezpražec? (Nejvíce asi začátek Unity…, ale i jinde.)
LychgateK počátečnímu zmatení (a pozdějšímu požitku) přispívá i ona už zmiňovaná podivnost struktur skladeb jako celku i jednotlivých pasáží. Někdy hudba působí až trochu chaoticky a jaksi surreálně a psychedelicky… a to jak po stránce postupů tak i co do atmosféry. V pár místech, nejvíce asi v Atavistic Hypnosis, bych až volně (vzdáleně) přirovnal k podivnosti a surreálnému světu Kayo Dot/Maudlin of the Well. Zároveň (nejen) tam slyším i vliv Esoteric – a není to jen kvůli Chandlerově vokálu. Když už přirovnávám, tak třeba v Unity of Opposities jakoby se Vortigern při skládání pro změnu inspiroval v progressive/death metal/fusion vesmíru, který obývají(/-ly) entity jako Cynic a na začátku Hither Comes the Swarm jsem si vzpomněl i na staré Arcturus (v death/doomovějším provedení). The Contagion… je oproti svým předchůdcům pomalejší, plyne spíše ve středních a pomalejších tempech, vyloženě rychlá pasáž je tu vlastně jen jedna (v Hither Comes…). I tak jsou některá místa i po rytmické stránce podobně (opět to slovo) podivná a nápaditá jako u nahrávky předchozí. Různé předrážení, zasekávání, liché doby, zvláštní přechody a vůbec (pa)rytmické hrátky všeho druhu.
LychgateRozporuplným bodem jsou pro mě (některé) čisté vokály, kterých je mnohem více než v minulosti. Hádal bych, že je alespoň částečně opět nazpíval Vortigern, ale dle dostupného infa se o ně pravděpodobně postarali především dva hostující zpěváci – Alexandros Antoniou (mj. Macabre Omen, The One) a Chris Hawkins (Endeavour). V pár chvílích jsou, resp. se mi tak, hlavně zpočátku, zdály, až příliš… líbivé, patetické, vlezlé, „sladké“/„teplé“ (jak libo). Nicméně jsou zároveň opravdu povedené, často i dost působivé a zvláštní – ať už melodicky, zabarvením, nebo i frázováním. Některé vlastně připomínají hymnické/epické nápěvy Solefald (nejvíce asi v závěrečné Remembrance) a mají až sakrální, liturgický nádech. Nakonec, po mnoha posleších, musím říci, že jsem si většinu z nich oblíbil a ambivalentně vnímám vlastně už jen jednu krátkou pasáž v Unity… a pak ten přepjatý a disharmonický part v titulní The Contagion. Příjemným překvapením a novinkou je ovšem (+ -) čistý, hluboký zpěv Grega Chandlera, ten mi sedl hned a vítám ho bez výhrad. A samozřejmě i jeho řev je stále skvělý, mj. v některých pasážích kvůli rychlejšímu frázování ubral na echu/hallu (či jiných efektech) ještě více než na Antidote…. Jistou ambivalenci cítím i k několika málo místům s až příliš romanticky/naivně znějícím klavírem, ale to jsou spíš detaily a některé klavírní party mi naopak přijdou velmi dobré a zajímavé. Povedeným zvukovým zpestřením je i „přízračně“ znějící mellotron (varhany, klavír i mellotron na desku tentokrát nahrál Vladimir Antonov-Charsky).
Naopak, co se týče zvuku, tady musím jen chválit. Jestli jsem u předchozí desky měl nějaké námitky, třeba u bicích a ještě v některých dalších detailech, tentokrát je zvuk všech nástrojů a nahrávky celkově perfektní. Nahrávalo se ve třech různých studiích a o mix a master se postaral Jamie Gomez Arellano. Autor veškeré hudby a textů je i tentokrát Vortigern. Tematicky se The Contagion… točí hlavně okolo tzv. inteligence/chování roje/hejna (swarm intelligence/behaviour) a analogií těchto jevů v lidských davech, společnosti a civilizaci obecně. Koncept alba je inspirován především dílem filosofa, futurologa a sci-fi autora Stanisława Lema (mj. Solaris) – Nepřemožitelný, ale také jinými filosofy a psychology od Platóna po Gustava Le Bona.
Podobně jako u recenze alba předchozího musím nakonec s potěšením konstatovat, že i když mám stále k The Contagion… drobné výhrady, jedná se znovu o jednu z nezajímavějších a nejlepších metalových desek poslední doby. Možná mi blackmetalovější Antidote… sedla o trošku více, ale i letošní nahrávka má své plusy a specifické kouzlo.
LYCHGATE FURTHER AGITATE DOOM, BLACK METAL MODELS WITH WEIRD NEW ‘THE CONTAGION IN NINE STEPS’
We live in a strange time where we are always interconnected no matter how far apart we are. There’s a comfort in that. Friends who live far away, who are not near enough to see in person, can remain vital parts of our lives. World events can be seen and generate a reaction instantly. Ideas can be shared in real time. And, of course, dangerous behaviors also can be exacerbated. Plenty of evil with the good.
One of the dangerous things about being so closely connected to one another is the ability to gang up on people and ideas and bully them or violently persuade them to abandon their thoughts and actions. There’s even good and bad to that one. A group of Nazis gathering to spread ideology should be met with a combined force of people trying to prevent their poison ideas. However, same holds true for those who fight back against hatred in that they, too, become targets of a swam of attacks. This whole internet idea isn’t the whole idea behind Lychgate’s labyrinth of a third record “The Contagion in Nine Steps,” but the idea of swarm behavior they borrow from Stanislaw Lem’s 1964 sci-fi novel The Invincible. Along the way they also lean on concepts of other philosophers (Plato, LeBon, Canetti, etc.) on subjects ranging from civilization, crowd psychology, and consciousness and wrap them into these six tricks that will twist your brain repeatedly. The band— vocalist Greg Chandler (Esoteric), guitarists J. C. “Vortigern” Young (The One) and S.D. Lindsley, bassist A. K. Webb (Ancient Ascendant), and drummer T. J. F. Vallely (Acherontas, Macabre Omen)—create one of the most baffling, immersive records of their run, and it may take several visits just to absorb everything going on here.
“Republic” opens the record with guest player Vladimir Antonov-Charsky’s organ playing leading and dominating the first few minutes of the song. In fact, this track feels like three separate songs stitched together and entangled, as doom pounds away, the song drives hard toward your chest, and deep growls from Chandler make impact. Cleaner singing, almost power metal style, also steps in from time to time, as classical keys spread, and a final dose of heaviness pulls closed the gates. “Unity of Opposites” has inventive key work and a slinking bass line, as things take their time to get moving, and slow fires begin to build. Once the song truly opens, tricky guitar work confounds, while lurching growls and passionate singing expose different shades of the tale. Warm elegance rushes over the final minutes, with the song coming to a buzzing finish. “Atavistic Hypnosis” has keys dripping, with the band establishing a calculated, atmospheric ambiance. Whispers turn into growls, as the pace lurches, the synth hangs like a cloud, and darkness arrives along with smothering singing that reaches into the higher registers. The track gets mean again, darkening boldly before all the lights go out.
“Hither Comes the Swarm” starts with the keys hitting a deep groove, and growls partnering with hypnotic guitars to send you into hysterics. Windy chimes strike, while the keys lather, and the band suddenly hits overdrive with speed and menace. That keeps landing blows as the pace mystifies, throaty growls emerge, and watery keys wash away the violence. “The Contagion” is the longest track, running 8:48 and beginning in a pounding assault with the keys swimming. Clean singing begins the path, with sludgy growling taking over, and while the band is going for the throat, they do so in a way that comes to a cosmic prog mind-set. Eerie choral sections move in, wild cries explode, and the guitars cut through meat to the bone. The pace is strange for the final minute, as bellowing vocals strike, and a haunted music box serves as the outro. Closer “Remembrance” is practically a doom ballad, as the pace remains slow the entire time, and all the singing is clean. The track is slow and reflective, bleeding pain and sorrow, coming to a ceremonial final resting place amid showery keys.
Bands such as Lychgate are what is keeping black metal and doom constantly evolving, breathing beasts, and I doubt you’ll hear another record quite like “The Contagion in Nine Steps” all year. Or maybe not until this band comes up with something new again. It’s not an easy listen, and it will demand some patience, but you will be rewarded with a record that will rewrite your expectations about daring metal albums and might even inform some of your behaviors within society.
Review by Brian Krasman.
LA TERZA OPERA DELLA BAND ALBIONICA INCUTE SOGGEZIONE, NON TANTO PER LA MOLE QUANTO PER LA GRANDE QUANTITÀ DI IDEE, DI PERSONALITÀ, DI SUONI PRESENTI NEI SEI BRANI; UN VORTICE DI ATMOSFERE VINCOLATE A UN SUONO FUNERAL E BLACK MOLTO PERSONALE, CANGIANTE E CHE NON HA EGUALI NELL'ATTUALE SCENA MUSICALE.
La terza opera della band albionica incute soggezione, non tanto per la mole quanto per la grande quantità di idee, di personalità, di suoni presenti nei sei brani; un vortice di atmosfere vincolate a un suono funeral e black molto personale, cangiante che non ha eguali nell’attuale scena musicale. Sono attivi dal 2013 con l’omonima opera e nel 2015 avevano rifinito la loro idea di musica con Antidote for the Glass Pills, ma ora con questa opera raggiungono un ulteriore livello di arte.
Tutti i testi e la musica sono opera di Vortigern (J.C.Young), drummer in un vecchio progetto black greco, i The One, autori nel 2008 di un buon lavoro come I,Master, che ora suona la chitarra, mentre le vocals sono appannaggio di un grande artista come Greg Chandler (mastermind degli Esoteric); l’unione tra questi due artisti ha generato una creatura sinistra e affascinante che con questa terza opera ci lascia attoniti di fronte alla grandeur, alla magnificenza del loro suono che si nutre di tanti ingredienti per mostrare la propria forza: aromi gotici, heavy-progressive, funeral doom, black impregnano tutti i brani che sono scritti con grande ispirazione. L’uso dell’organo, del piano e del mellotron aggiunge grande potenza, maestosità e teatralità fino dall’opener Republic (per un gioco di suggestioni l’inizio mi ha ricordato il film horror del 1971 – L’abominevole dr. Phibes, con un grande Vincent Price) che incede lenta squarciata dal growl di Chandler a rivaleggiare con il suono oppressivo dell’organo. Un sound stratificato, avanguardistico, permea Unity of Opposites dove oscure linee di basso conducono la danza e permettono all’organo di ricamare suoni in sottofondo; il tocco romantico e lunare dei riff di chitarra accende Atavistic Hypnosis (brano magnifico), che si snoda per quasi nove minuti, coinvolgendo fortemente in un’atmosfera oscura e surreale. Ispirato dal libro The Invincible di Stanislaw Lew (anche i russi Below the Sun sono stati ispirati da questo autore con lo splendido Alien World del 2017) l’opera procede con gli strali dark di Hither Comes the Swarm, altro brano dove giganteggia l’organo e nel quale si assiste all’unica breve sfuriata black nel senso classico del termine, e con The Contagion, dai toni aspri e personali. La più breve Remembrance con toni corali e con una melodia carica di spiritualità chiude un’opera d’arte di gran livello, il cui ascolto è necessario per nutrire il proprio spirito di grandi sensazioni.
Review by Massimo Pagliaro
Lurking behind the wall of trends and polished tides of sound are bands whose output dwells within stranger realms—unattached to the expectations of the masses. The English alchemists, Lychgate, (whose name you should have heard by now), return with their third album, and second for Blood Music, entitled The Contagion in Nine Steps. What the brainchild of keyboardist/vocalist/composer James Young (aka Vortigern) and drummer T.J.F. Vallely have wrought so far is a synthesized hybrid of classically influenced organ music and avant-garde black metal. The prior album, 2015's An Antidote For The Glass Pill, was truly a monumental collision between Lizst-inspired classical strains, basalt-heavy church organ, and frenetic black metal movements. The question, of course, is whether Lychgate is able to recapture the feeling on this their latest work.
Clearly artists who are not prepared to sit still, Lychgate appear to be taking their time on the compositions of their latest work. The opener "Republic" begins familiarly enough, the echoing keyboard and cinematic strains which overlap with excellent guitar work and the subterranean growl of Vortigern. The more subtle songwriting approach incorporates clean vocals that would make Solefald proud. The high-concept feeling is there and a bit toned down in mania than on prior works. Best appreciated in headphones, Vortigern provides some amazing keyboard work here. The menace returns though and ensures the song never gets lost up its own ass.
Where The Contagion In Nine Steps differs from its predecessor is in the way it hits the listener. Take the de facto title track, which spools up amid swells of keys and some quite adept clean vocals. Vortigern's matured songwriting has this one revealing its depths over time. Listen closely and one hears the classical influences but in a bit more accessible a presentation. It demands your attention, like a good novel. Multiple atmospheres exist inside the composition; the uncomfortable, horror-themed feeling from their prior album has settled down a bit. Instead, this atmosphere wraps the listener up in folds of sound that, though velvety, conceal a good deal of horror in their depths.
This is not to say that Lychgate can't bring straightforward heaviness. Album highlight "Hither Comes The Swarm" creeps into being, setting the mood as much of the album seems wont to do. It's not long before some exceptional double-bass drumming, masterful guitar leads, and the cavernous vocals of Greg Chandler amp up the experience for even the shortest of musical attention spans to savor.
One of this album's strengths is its ability to soothe the listener into a false sense of security. "Atavistic Hypnosis" begins with atmospheric prog, swathed in a horror aesthetic perfect for any moonlit walk. The comfort this engenders soon spirals into madness, with great clean vocals on top, as those signature organ keys take the song home into familiar Lychgate territory.
"Unity of Opposites" does this just as well. Guitar leads run aplenty and the aggressive bark of vocals offset the progressive trippiness. In this song, the adroit playing of bassist A.K. Webb is especially evident. This track even gets into some juicy shoe-gaze territory around 4 minutes in when pleasing guitar leads intersperse with a staccato percussive rhythm. The clean dual vocal truly fits in well here also. This is where Lychgate—who boasts members from bands like Esoteric and Ancient Ascendant—sound truly in sync here.
Wrapping up the album is the elongated outro "Remembrance." Hypnotic and soothing, it lacks the challenging bite of the rest of the album. Still effective nonetheless, it seems like a song that might have gone elsewhere had the band members pushed it. The ethereal vocals in the beginning half are haunting, even triumphant, around the 1:30 mark. They are a tactic the band should certainly employ more on future albums.
All told, Lychgate's third album serves to expand their sonic palette. If it is not as bombastic as its predecessor, The Contagion In Nine Steps shows a band paying a bit more heed to atmospherics; reigning in their feral classical-meets-black metal repertoire; peppering it with some subtleties. Superior musicianship, an excellent sense of dynamics, and a stellar array of vocal tools show that Lychgate is quite the formidable musical collective. It's about time they get their due from us fans.
Review by Nicholas Franco
Lychgate will teach you to spread The Contagion in Nine Steps
If you’re an avid fan of the bizarre and unorthodox approach of music as a form of creative expression, you may have noticed a growth in its presence within the metal community over the past few years. There’s simply an escalating demand for originality that doesn’t seem to be met the more bands start realizing that rules are meant to be broken, and the limitations are invisible. One of those entities who caught the extreme metal scene off guard with their doom extravaganza collection of tracks An Antidote For The Glass Pill in 2015 was UK’s extreme cult Lychgate. To continue with their splendid music journey, they are now presenting their third release The Contagion in Nine Steps
Lychgate has encapsulated a psychological journey that will stop by every emotion experienced by the collective mind with each of their tracks. Taking a historical and philosophical approach, the album delves deep into the core of society as a sentient entity, exploring the concept of swarm behavior throughout Europe’s past.
The album starts in a similar note to its predecessor, with a grotesque and unnerving organ accompanied by an ad libitum percussion and a dissonant string work performed by bassist A.K. Webb. “Republic” prepares the mood for the rest of the album by creating a daunting atmosphere with undertones of stability which are resolved in its unique way throughout the end of the whole piece.
There are sprinkles of beauty among such a chaotic work, spread by the beautiful clean vocals and chanting which give a sense of security to continue indulging in the pragmatic composition. With this in mind, the consistent reminder that this is still, in fact, an extreme metal release are prevalent at every corner of each track. Esoteric’s Greg Chandler brings in his gurgling and asphyxiating vocals also into the mix, forging an amalgam that takes hold of the entire release in a dominating way, absorbing the instrumentation into his void.
For those looking for a seemingly more traditional heavy track, “Hither Comes The Swarm” serves well to those needing a break from the erratic. As the main topic of the album indicates, the track is the inspiration of the concept as a whole, which itself alludes to Stanislaw Lem’s book The Invincible and the concept of societal evolution and behaviour. The technical and musical progress of the song moves with the same simplicity of any other doom track, just to end in a reflective passage performed by guest pianist Vladimir Antonov-Charsky, mirroring its same lyrical content.
The same way that the album is meant to explore different ideas presented by Plato’s, Hegel’s, Le Bon’s, and Canetti’s regarding civilization’s conduct, each song has their own personality, with each instrument uniquely playing in a counter-point manner which later conceives a concise, well-blended anthem that only make sense after several spins. The same way that An Antidote For The Glass Pill created a wave of praise within the metal scene, The Contagion in Nine Steps will stir those curious for a complex, ambitious release and will find its pedestal among those who get to understand it.
Review by Alix Vallecillo
From Vienna, Austria and London, UK, comes the Avant Garde/Progressive/Black/Doom quintet LYCHGATE. Formed in 2011, they present their third album titled “The Contagion In Nine Steps,” which was inspired by Stanislaw Lem’s book “The Invincible,” and historical and philosophical sources on the idea of swarm behavior in crowds and civilizations from the era of Plato, to Le Bon, and the modern era. “Contagion” is defined as the communication of disease (or ideas and practices) from one person to another by close contact. The album contains six tracks.
“Republic” leads off the album with dissonant and ominous organ notes. What ensues is something deeply unique. Throw out conventions and soak this in. It is gloriously progressive, sophisticated, dark and weighted. It’s hard to ignore the layering here—even though it is frequently discussed, it is surely one of the main features. Somehow the layers at first seem incongruous but a deeper listen allows you to make the connections. “Unity of Opposites” opens with some guitar and bass parts that seem to dance with one another in a way that sounds like they are both in different dimensions. The vocals are sometime clean and other times harsh. There are some elements of a band like OPETH here at times, but even that it too simple to describe the song. They shift time meters like an expert alchemist creating a potion out of thin air.
“Atavistic Hypnosis” is really outer world level. It’s a nine-minute trip through a wormhole that leads to extrasolar existence, and unlike anything that I have heard before. Atavistic means “relating to or characterized by reversion to something ancient or ancestral.” Sometimes the song is playful yet at other times menacing. The construct is really something divergent and enjoyable in a way that you can’t quite quantify. “Hither Comes the Swarm” opens with piano, bass guitar and drums in a somber tone, leading to low distorted guitar chords and guttural vocals. The whole of the track sounds like it was dug up unknowingly in the depths of Moria, together with the Balrog in “The Lord of the Rings.” The storm coming is pure pestilence and once it has been freed there is no escape.
“The Contagion” is a chaotic affair at times, twisting rhythms and times while darting in and out of the darkness and the light. The clean vocals are almost ritualistic chants, answered by authoritative Death vocals in a commanding fashion. The mutilation and torture is done in sequestered shadows. You can hear the screams and feel the pain but are unable to help; frozen in time. The ending notes sound like creepy toy bells that would put a child to sleep. “Remembrance” closes the album. For the first time on the album, it warms in the light of major chords more than the coldness that comes from loss. It’s bleak and mournful, but calming and soothing at the same time. The clean harmonic vocals keep the tears at bay just long enough to take in the beauty of the song.
Boundaries be damned. The creativity that went into the compositions here is sobering. The album is vastly expressive, with so many folds and seams. When you lift one, you unlock something completely different than you heard before. They masterfully craft an album that is ever-moving and ever-shifting, and intertwine instrumental and vocal elements in a totally unique way. It’s deep and far reaching, but also enjoyable to listen to.
Review by Dave Campbell
Lychgate’s sophomore effort An Antidote for the Glass Pill was absolutely stunning, merging the worlds of funeral doom and black metal together in a way that had an unpredictable and avant-garde flair. With the organ working to create a haunting, otherworldly atmosphere, the material truly took listeners on an adventure. Three years later the group has returned with The Contagion in Nine Steps, an album that explores similar textures but heads in completely different directions. Whether you were sucked into their music previously or are ready to dive in for the first time, Lychgate’s material sound like nothing else out there and this latest effort is one of the year’s best.
The organ was one of the most prominent elements on An Antidote for the Glass Pill, and while it initially appears that The Contagion in Nine Steps is heading in that same direction after the opener “Republic” Lychgate lets the other instruments drive things forward. There are still plenty of moments where the organ, piano, and mellotron open up the expand the sound outwards and give off a feeling of grandeur, but as a whole there’s even more emphasis on the guitar work. The instrumentalists rarely stay in one place for too long, transitioning seamlessly from denser black metal passages into a funeral doom atmosphere that invites listeners to step further into darkness. But despite how often things change there are prominent hooks throughout the album that will linger with you. Sections like the opening of “Unity of Opposites” are a great example, as the guitar and bass combine to create an ominous, haunting arrangement that gives off images of standing on the edge of a giant chasm, peering into vastness with no bottom in sight. The interplay between the different instruments works to Lychgate’s advantage, with some of the abrupt transitions likely to remind listeners of some of the more adventurous death metal out there despite a clear skew towards black metal tonality. It’s a lot to take in but the album keeps things digestible at just over forty-two minutes in length, providing enough substance to hook listeners the first time through while beckoning them to explore further to discover the nuances of each piece.
Previously Lychgate showcased a wide range of harsh vocals mixed with some cleaner ranges that naturally complemented their instrumentation. This is once again the case, but there seems to be even more of an emphasis on singing than I remember. Greg Chandler (Esoteric) still delivers a wide range of harsher screams and growls that touch upon just about every range one can think of, but around the halfway point of “Republic” cleaner ranges are thrown into the mix. As you make your way through The Contagion in Nine Steps, you’ll notice that there’s a back and forth between the clean and distorted pitches to the point where each one seems to be feeding off the energy of the other. It makes the vocal work as unpredictable as the instrumentals and each line furthers the overall atmosphere, resulting in some truly stunning moments.
It’s immediate predecessor may have had more of a flair for the dramatic, but Lychgate still reaches some incredible peaks while exploring some more subdued and nuanced textures on The Contagion in Nine Steps. With songs that provide plenty of twists and turns while balancing elements of black metal and funeral doom to create a dark, introspective atmosphere that draws you in right from the beginning, this is another top-notch release from one of the most exciting metal bands out there. The Contagion in Nine Steps is available from Blood Music.
Review by Chris Dahlberg.
Großbritannien mag nicht das erste Land sein, das man mit Extreme Metal assoziiert, doch es gibt auch in diesem Bereich definitiv einige namhafte Bands, die die große Insel ihr zuhause nennen – beispielsweise Cradle Of Filth oder Akercocke. Ebenfalls britisch und stilistisch extrem, aber noch nicht so bekannt sind LYCHGATE, die mit „The Contagion In Nine Steps“ ihre mittlerweile dritte Platte kreiert und veröffentlicht haben. Fans der ersten beiden Opeth-Alben und von Dimmu Borgir zur Zeit von „Enthrone Darkness Triumphant“ und „Spiritual Black Dimensions“ sollten jetzt gut aufpassen, denn durch seine ganz eigene Mischung aus Black, Doom und Symphonic Metal ist dem Quintett ein Werk gelungen, das Erinnerungen an den Zauber ebenjener Meilensteine wachruft, diesem aber einige neue Komponenten beifügt.
LYCHGATE als Nachahmungstäter zu deklarieren, täte ihnen zwar Unrecht, doch an sich lässt sich das Konstrukt der von ihnen zusammengestellten Stilmittel relativ leicht aufschlüsseln. Die imposanten Growls könnten etwa glatt aus der Kehle von Mikael Åkerfeldt stammen und die scharfkantigen und doch flüssigen sowie düster-melodischen Gitarrenleads wären auch auf einem Album wie „Orchid“ nicht fehl am Platz.
Den symphonischen Anteil bilden hingegen die geschmackvollen Klavierkompositionen und das groteske, rabenschwarze Orgelspiel, das den Hörer gleich zu Beginn des Eröffnungsstücks „Republic“ mit einem unkonventionell abgehackten Rhythmus in Beschlag nimmt. Mit schwülstigem Keyboard-Kitsch haben LYCHGATE erfreulicherweise nichts am Hut, sodass die morbide Eleganz der Piano- und Orgelarrangements zu keiner Zeit aufgesetzt erscheint. Dem erhabenen, Ehrfurcht gebietenden Grundton des Albums entsprechend spielen LYCHGATE nie allzu grobschlächtig – meist geben die Drums ein eher getragenes Tempo vor, um das sich die unheimlichen Gitarren wie die Ranken einer Schlingpflanze schlängeln.
In gewisser Weise hört sich „The Contagion In Nine Steps“ an, als würde man das efeubewachsene Herrenhaus eines diabolischen Schurken erkunden. Mal fühlt man sich wie in einem Ballsaal, in dem einen jeder Tanzschritt ein Stück näher ans Verderben bringt („Hither Comes The Swarm“), dann wiederum versetzen uns LYCHGATE durch den Klang hoffnungslos verhallender Clean-Gitarren in einen schummrigen Keller, aus dem es kein Entrinnen gibt („Atavistic Hypnosis“). Die ruhigeren Passagen, in denen manchmal auch der zurückgelehnte Bass auf sich aufmerksam macht, sind mitunter sogar noch eindringlicher als die tonnenschwer schleppenden Black-Doom-Abschnitte. Der oft, aber nicht ausschließlich im Chor eingesungene Klargesang verfinstert die schauderhafte Atmosphäre sogar noch weiter.
Hinsichtlich Produktion und Performance macht „The Contagion In Nine Steps“ noch einen leicht holprigen Eindruck, doch in ihrem Aufbau sind die sechs Songs, die das äußerst spannende Thema der Psychologie der Gruppendynamik aufgreifen, wahrhaft herausragend. LYCHGATE verwirren hier weder mit zu vielen Breaks, noch langweilen sie mit zu lange ausgezehrten Motiven, sodass die Briten letztlich genau das richtige, der Atmosphäre dienliche Maß an Variation gefunden haben. Die Düsternis, die LYCHGATE auf ihrem ambitionierten dritten Silberling heraufbeschwören, ist von geradezu greifbarer Dichte – selbst im verträumten „Remembrance“, welches das Album äußerst stimmig auflöst und damit ein letztes Mal den überaus gut durchdachten Aufbau der Platte aufzeigt.
Review by Stephan Rajchl
V poslednej dobe mám pocit, že na metalovej scéne prudko vzrastá počet kapiel, ktoré sa halia do kapucní či habitov. Výsledný efekt sa tým pádom trochu znižuje, čo v kombinácii s priemernou hudobnou produkciou môže vyznievať dosť nudne. To však nie je prípad anglických LYCHGATE, ktorých hudba je veľmi svojská a neustále sa vyvíja. Aj keď sa na scéne pohybujú len sedem rokov, nie sú to žiadni nováčikovia. Ja som ich objavil pred troma rokmi, keď vydali skvelú nahrávku "An Antidote for the Glass Pill". Tu skvelým spôsobom skombinovali black metal, doom metal a varhany pripomínajúce obdobie baroka. Svoje kvality potvrdili aj koncom minulého roka, keď vystúpili v bratislavskom Randale, kde spomedzi štvorice vystupujúcich predviedli najpresvedčivejší výkon.
Aktuálna novinka ponúka poslucháčovi podobný mix ako na svojom predchodcovi, no omnoho viac tu prevažuje doom metalová zložka. Skladby sa nesú v pomalých tempách a opäť majú trocha zložitejšie štruktúry. Pre nepripraveného poslucháča môžu znieť trocha chaoticky, no v skutočnosti tu všetko sedí ako má. Ich hudba znie veľmi avantgardne a surrealisticky, hlavne vďaka melodickým vokálom, varhanom a čudnej psychedelickej atmosfére. Tá miestami pripomína nórskych SOLEFALD, čo je akýsi nový rozmer ich hudby. Pozornému poslucháčovi istotne neujde ani istá podobnosť s tvorbou pohrebníkov ESOTERIC, ktorých tu zastupuje gitarista a spevák Greg Chandler. Okrem jeho skvelého vokálu tu cítiť aj hudobný vplyv tejto nedocenenej veličiny. No v konečnom výsledku LYCHGATE produkujú výrazne originálnu hudbu a tie vplyvy sú len korením ich produkcie. Skľučujúca psychedelická atmosféra v kombinácii so zložitými kostrami jednotlivých kompozícií vytvárajú neopakovateľný trip, ktorý vás zavedie do krajiny zakrivených zrkadiel. Melódie ako aj rytmika sa navzájom prepletajú v pokrútených štruktúrach, ktoré sú zárukou neopakovateľného hudobného zážitku. Veľkým plusom ich hudby je spomínaná inšpirácia vážnou hudbou, ktorá však nie je len akýmsi doplnkom. Tá je totiž cítiť z každého nástroja, možno s výnimkou Gregovho growlu. Texty sa nesú vo filozofickom duchu, pričom sa zaoberajú témami ako ilúzia slobody jednotlivca a potreba zmeny v spoločnosti. Je to dosť neobvyklá téma vzhľadom na daný štýl, čo je však ďalším pozitívom tohto diela.
LYCHGATE sa podarilo opäť vyprodukovať originálnu nahrávku, v ktorej je čo objavovať.
Review by Martin Mayer
Mogelpackung oder Was? Sind doch nur sechs Songs statt neun, wie uns der Titel suggeriert … Aber Scherz beiseite, zumal Doom Metal "no laughing matter" ist, wie The Lamp Of Thoth einst sangen: LYCHGATEs neustes Album steht in diesem Bereich momentan allein auf weiter Flur da und ist nicht nur darum ungeheuer reizvoll.
Die Kirchenorgel als tragendes Instrument unter einem metallischen Überbau zu platzieren wie im eröffnenden 'Republic', das hat schon etwas Verwegenes, das hervorragend zu LYCHGATEs Label passt, den Quertreibern von Blood Music mit ihrer ungewöhnlichen Marketing-Politik und einem beispiellosen Portfolio, was Werkschauen in Boxsets (Emperor, Strapping Young Lad, …) betrifft. Die Schweden ergehen sich unterdessen in fürstlichem Doom, jeweils zwischen sechs und neun Minuten lang (ausgenommen der kurze, versöhnlich melodische Abschluss 'Remembrance') und auf den ersten Hör hin nicht unbedingt leicht zugänglich.
Die Songs gleichen eher Klangereignissen, weil die Musiker nicht nach altbewährten Mustern komponieren, indem sie vordergründig wiederkehrende Elemente zulassen, sondern mit Motivariationen bzw. rein narrativ arbeiten sodass die Ideen einzeln hintereinander "herfließen". Andererseits gibt es mehr Breaks, als man zählen kann, ohne dass dieser "Flow" gestört würde; vielmehr erscheint es so, als würden Musik und Gesang einander ergänzen, das eine als Antwort auf das andere fungieren respektive neue Fragen stellen, um sich gegenseitig hochzuschaukeln. Das torkelnde 'Atavistic Hypnosis' ist mit fauchender Stimme und Maultrommel-Effekt ein weiteres Kuriosum, wohingegen die verspielt dudelnde Gitarren von 'Unity Of Opposites' fast schon wieder traditionell anmuten, ganz zu schweigen vom Chorgesang 'Contagion'.
Immer wieder präsent: dezente Death-Metal-Anklänge, in erster Linie auf die Vocals bezogen, und eine gewisse schwarzmetallische Aura, die sich in den flirrenden Momenten von 'Hither Comes The Swarm' äußert, dem zugleich bösartigsten, hysterischsten Stück. Dennoch herrscht insgesamt eine unverbindliche Stimmung vor, weder stereotyp traurig noch richtig finster, schlicht abstrakt und deshalb zunächst schwierig in seiner Gesamtheit zu erfassen. Eine längere Auseinandersetzung lohnt jedoch unbedingt.
FAZIT: Die dritte LYCHGATE ist definitiv mindestens halb extremer Metal der ungewöhnlichen Sorte, doch dieser Duktus ist nicht im Mindesten aufgesetzt, wie man bei dieser Band mittelerweile weiß. Von "The Contagion In Nine Steps" wird man als offener Doom-Fan lange zehren - vor allem, wenn man auf Griftegård, The Doomsday Cult oder aktuell auch Dautha steht.
Review by Andreas Schiffmann.
I often argue that growing up Catholic feels like a heritage in and of itself. The appreciation of archaic ritual, the Gregorian chanting, the pungent incense, the Gothic architecture, the sense of the supernatural in the house of worship, and, of course, the music. Catholic music, despite being offered up as a means of praise, is often rather dark and pensive. Minor keys contrast starkly with the more traditional use of the pipe organ. It’s an instrument that recalls The Phantom of the Opera, a host of Gothic film scores, and your parents’ favorite Easter hymns; yet, the organ is not an instrument we associate with much outside the confides of grand architecture or Sunday services.
While black metal has embraced aspects of Catholicism (or rather, their inverses, naturally) to create music that invokes a different channel of the esoteric occult, Lychgate tackle a wide range of various musical traditions to craft something that is unique and exciting. The Contagion in Nine Steps concerns itself not so much with your stereotypical evils (no mention of Satan or misspellings of the word “of” here) but with humanity’s innate ability to devolve into chaos in the herd. On their engrossing and challenging third release, Lychgate tackle crowd psychology from a philosophical and historical point of view. Much like the music itself, it’s a record that unfolds itself brilliantly when you give it the time and courtesy of attention.
Interestingly, The Contagion in Nine Steps is yet another sonic shift for a band who hasn’t written the same album twice. While their debut was a tasty batch of avant-garde black metal, An Antidote for the Glass Pill was a real head-trip, the type of audio nightmare that dropped the listener into something singularly frightening, only to twist and unwind itself into more horrors along the way. It also happened to be worth the effort and attention, though there was a sense of immediacy despite the audio aggression on hand. The Contagion in Nine Steps still sounds a bit like a nightmare, but this is much more deliberate, more controlled. The latent funeral doom influence is more pronounced; the avant-garde classical influence leads to something rather beautiful, and the use of pipe organ has been reigned in to match the mood more than dominate your psyche like An Antidote did.
I mentioned Catholicism at the onset because Lychgate’s latest really does invoke that sense of wonder and awe that can come with sharing a special moment with a swath of similarly-minded individuals in a massive space, think the cathedrals and basilicas in Europe. The Contagion in Nine Steps conjures up images of a post-apocalyptic even occurring in the Vatican City, and the psychological and physical despair that would ensue amidst some truly gorgeous backdrops. The record, if it isn’t patently obvious yet, is still slightly jarring, but instead of coming across as challenging, Lychgate’s latest is electrifying and intoxicating. The biggest challenge is not getting sucked deep into whatever Hellhole the record invokes. Nobody sounds like this, but I could imagine Hooded Menace and Blut Aus Nord coming together to craft the soundtrack to a Catholic horror film, and the results not being too far off. Those willing to take the plunge will be rewarded.
Review by Nicholas Senior
There’s an aspect of theatricality to black metal that lies forever intertwined with whatever home-brewed philosophy is present. I don’t say this as a bad thing: in fact it’s a major draw to the genre, but it’s also something that’s not acknowledged enough. Lychgate seem very aware of how they want to position both the lyrical content of their music as much as instrumentation, and on latest offering The Contagion in Nine Steps this marriage of nihilistic commentary and striking erudite metal has never been as effective. It’s a deep and challenging record that isn’t afraid to let its dramatic moments fly.
This melding isn’t anything new to the UK outfit. Since 2013’s self-titled debut the band has proven to be adept at crafting twisting and progressive music that didn’t sacrifice any of the darkness and mystery inherent in the genre. Much of this comes from mastermind J.C. Young, aka Vortigern whose familiarity with styles as diverse as classical and ambient, electronic music drive the bending structures of tracks like “Resentment” and “In Self Ruin” even as the band shows an adeptness with more traditional tracks like “Against the Paradoxical Guild.” The proliferation of keyboards and organ add a lingering dread and funereal atmosphere, something that was accentuated on follow-up An Antidote for the Glass Pill. Playing with space in the song structure as well as emphasizing the more bombastic and diabolic sounds the organ can produce, it was a huge step forward into otherworldly terrain. “Davamesque B2” fluidly moves from classical fugue to doom, before transforming into truly surreal drama, echoing bands like Arcturus as much as the combination of talent the band originates from, including Esoteric and Macabre Omen. “I Am Contempt” pushes the wicked carnival atmosphere even further, but underlying it all is a dense sonic tapestry that speaks volumes to the care and technique that goes into crafting each track.
Even more care is taken with regards to utilizing space and exacting intonation on The Contagion in Nine Steps. Opening with “Republic” finds Lychgate entering Ihsahn territory, completely unafraid to experiment with form and function. Organs are even more prominent, and the lyrical content is just as heady: the entire album is an exploration of crowd psychology and the trappings of a swarm mentality, using Stanislaw Lem’s The Invincible as a jumping off point to explore themes addressed by Plato, Gustave Le Bon, and Elias Canetti.
Heady stuff, but even if needing a doctorate to grasp the central concepts isn’t your thing, you can still get a full education on the music alone. “Unity of Opposites” jumps and syncopates in a dozen different directions as clean vocals get into the mix. As much a force of nature as drummer T. J. F. Vallely was on previous albums, it’s this moment where he truly shines. Never relying on simple blast beats or anything remotely “ordinary,” his rhythms and percussive cadences stand out as a singular voice in the music as opposed to a simple timekeeper. The idea to employ guest vocalists also serves Vortigern’s compositions, as The Contagion in Nine Steps benefits from a rich layer of harmonics in the vocal department.
Moving forward, “Atavistic Hypnosis” moves back to the funeral doom vibe, but punctuated by the theatrical vocals and Emperor circa Prometheus guitar lines the song is anything but commonplace. “Hither Comes the Swarm” starts with a brooding, almost sinewy bass line, chopped with piano before a sickening riff overlays the track. It lays on some of the darkest moments of the record, despite a relatively brutal section midway through. “The Contagion” is the sprawling epic of the album, capturing and executing on the musical themes Lychgate has been perfecting over the last five years.
With so much music trapped in a loop of repetition and sameness it’s almost startling how fresh and invigorating Lychgate feels each time they release an album. The Contagion in Nine Steps feels like the next step in an evolution that refuses to stagnate, and its immediacy in sound is only exceeded by its breadth of ideas. It’s been a long time since something that grabbed me so quickly refuses to divulge its secrets, and I’m only too happy to continue plumbing the albums many depths.
Review by Chris
If you show up for this album expecting black metal, it might be a jarring turn for you. The fact that it is not black metal but still manages to be just as dark and interesting made me willing to go along for the ride. Not every movement on this shifting landscape of angular chaos connects with me, but I approve of the sense of adventure and rebellion against the black metal status quo.
The atmosphere and melancholy of the first song make the angular math of the guitars more balanced, and they get into some proggy abstraction on “Unity of Opposites” to the point that it might be too much like free-jazz for even Deathspell Omega fans. Like it or not, the band has to be applauded for doing their own thing.
This is a concept album of sorts, based on Stanislaw Lem’s book The Invincible, but the lyrics are not dominating the songs in a way that continues to call your attention to this fact.
This album finds more of a doom flavor seeping to the forefront where the first two albums were more black metal. “Atavistic Hypnosis” sounds more like Esoteric, whose Greg Chandler is the vocalist on the record. Considering how long it’s been since that band have put out an album, I’ll take what I can get. The sung vocals are very powerful on this song, and one of the more effective methods of employing them.
The album continues to impress with the variety of vocal colors, rather than just monochrome screaming. Some have more balls behind them than others.The guitars get almost Cynic-like in the labyrinth they create. Things stay at a dissonant doom pace for “Hither Comes the Swarm” with double-bass creating a hammering death metal tone.
The melodies get a little breathing room as baritone vocals narrate the beginning of “The Contagion” amid piano and spiraling runs of guitar. The higher clean vocals don’t sit on this as smoothly, and the growls work better. There is another heavier section that sounds more like death metal to me, and I can almost hear more traces of death metal on this album than black.
Sometimes when you do wander you do get lost. “Remembrance” is like a transcendent doom ballad. Not as abstract or mathematical as the bulk of the album, and it’s also not as heavy, not too far from the zip code of something Pallbearer might do. Often overcome by the grandiose progression into all the bells and whistles, Lychgate‘s sense of adventure here must be admired. This new direction showcases their serious chops in a way that still makes sense in the context of the song and is not just wanking for the sake of wanking. (When things get proggy I typically have to be past my second cup of coffee unless we are talking pre-Red King Crimson.)
This album should continue to grow on the lingering sense of abysmal darkness pervading most of these songs, and that is what will keep me returning to it.
Review by Wil Cifer
La critique est unanime, cet album est un chef d’oeuvre, une masterpiece comme on dit en anglais,et bien, que cela ne tienne, puisqu’on me l’a donné ,je vais confirmer, ou pas ,ces critiques dithyrambiques .
Lychgate est souvent associé au groupe Esoteric, ou même Blut aus nord pour son coté avant gardiste et sans frontières musicales réelles.C’est le moins qu’on puisse dire ,car au niveau musical, ce troisième disque de Lychgate ne va pas s’adresser a n’importe qui.
Bien qu’évoluant dans la scène doom/dark ,Lychgate propose un univers très spirituel, ouvert aux expérimentations, quelles soient vocales ou musicales.
Republic débute l’album avec un univers riche,assez orchestral,quasiment baroque.Le rythme est très lent,le chant est grave,peu présent jusqu’au envolées vocale digne de ce que peux faire Septic Flesh,dans un autre genre.
Il règne une ambiance profonde et ténébreuse sur ce titre d’ouverture, bien amenée par les parties vocales qui passent d’un extrême à l’autre.
Le clavier est très discret,mais omniprésent,surtout sur les passages plus « lyriques ».Quand je parle de musique avant gardiste, je pourrais aussi parler du coté très technique des parties de batterie et de guitare.C’est pour cela que je dis que ce disque ne sera possiblement pas destiné a un amateur de musique directe et peu développée.
La lenteur que l’on pourrait trouver répétitive le serait vraiment ,si il n’y avait pas toute cette orchestration créative qui se greffe sur l’ossature au tempo réduit des compositions.
Musicalement , cela collerait parfaitement avec un film muet en noir et blanc, comme Nosferatu avec Max schreck.
Je tiens particulièrement a attirer l’attention sur le travail vocal titanesque du chanteur,tout y passe,du chant hurlé ,profond,quasi lyrique,ou gregorien sur certains passages.
Il est difficile de faire plus abouti ,plus orchestré que The contagion in nine steps,c’est surement pour cela que les critiques sur cet album sont aussi unanime.
Pour ma part,je suis bluffé par toutes ces ambiances ténébreuses ,limite cauchemardesques qui mélangent plusieurs univers ,qui ,au final s’emboitent magistralement.
Une production très dark, 6 titres pour plus de 40 minutes, Lychgate a pris le temps de développer son entité musical pour le rendre unique, car j’avoue que ce n’est pas tous les jours que j’entends des albums aussi différents et surprenant que The contagion.
Suis je donc prêt de dire que ce skeud est une masterpiece ? Vocalement, oui ,sans l’ombre d’un doute,pour l’orchestration musicale et l’effort de composition qui fait plonger l’auditeur dans un univers barré,glauque et inventif, je dirai oui aussi.
Apres ,il y a l’approche par les fans qui ne connaissent pas ce style, elle est un peu plus compliquée que pour un disque lambda. Il faut plusieurs écoutes pour appréhender la richesse et l’univers de Lychgate.
Donc ,au final ,l’album tient toutes ses promesses et même au-delà, il emporte l’auditeur vers quelques chose de terrifiant dont il ne pourra se défaire qu’à la fin du dernier titre.
Review by David Le Rouesnier
Jako fanouška black metalu mne velice potěšilo, když jsem se dozvěděl, že temná kumpanie Lychgate vypouští do světa novou desku The Contagion In Nine Steps. Po třech letech tak máme možnost nasát kultovní atmosféru vyvěrající z úchvatné muziky, kterou tato pětice neúnavně tvoří. Abychom mohli hovořit o The Contagion In Nine Steps, vraťme se o již zmiňovaná tři léta zpět a vzpomeňme na An Antidote for the Glass Pill, která se stala jistým mezníkem v kariéře této záhrobní party. Slušelo by se zmínit, že si album rychle získalo značnou oblibu u stávajících fanoušků a přitáhlo pozornost mnoha nových. Dokonce bychom mohli hovořit o tom, že debut se stejnojmenným názvem “Lychgate” tak trochu zastínilo. Svůj význam však nemá pouze mezi fanoušky, ale také v kapele samotné. Jak jsem již zmínil, jedná se o mezník v tvorbě skupiny. J. C. Young “Vortigern” se nechal slyšet v rozhovoru pro Orbis Metallum z podzimu 2017, že se tímto počinem otevřela nová cesta k tvorbě, po které se Lychgate rozhodli vykročit.
Ano, The Contagion In Nine Steps vlastně vychází z předchozího počinu a přináší několik novinek v oblasti práce se zvukem, kompozicí a melodickými aranžemi, čímž vytváří něco zcela nového a svým způsobem jedinečného. Tedy nemusíme se obávat žádné vykrádačky předchozího díla.
Tato fošna se pyšní svou rozmanitostí, ať už se jedná o výraznou rytmiku konceptu s barvitými melodickými pasážemi v úvodní skladbě Republic nebo agresivnějšími sóly v asistenci s klávesami a úderným zvukem bicích v “Unity of Opposites, Atavistic Hypnosis či Hither Comes the Swarm”, přičemž v pořadí druhá píseň desky Unity of Opposites začíná být zvukově ráznější a celkově dravější. Chci tím říci, že na albu je patrná jistá posloupnost a příjemná gradace. Pokud se vám někdy stalo, že jste se při poslechu desky ztratili a neměli přehled o tom, kde se zrovna nacházíte, troufám si tvrdit, že s The Contagion in Nine Steps se toto nestane.
Následující song Atavistic Hypnosis už je značně rozjetá záležitost, kde převládá growl, ale zároveň píseň nabízí dostatek prostoru pro chorálový zpěv, který alespoň podle mě dělá Lychgate tím, čím jsou. Nechybí melodická sóla i jistá hutnost zvuku, což vytváří skvěle vyváženou směsici, která cílí na lidské emoce.
Hither Comes The Swarm vymršťuje do neprobádaných výšin a její mrazivá atmosféra podle mého názoru uspokojí i náročnější posluchače atmosférického black metalu. Řízný zvuk kytar vytváří perfektní prostředí pekelnému growlu Grega Chandlera a vsadím se, že nejednomu fanouškovi naběhne husí kůže, jen co se začne přidávat chorálový zpěv v pozadí.
Na první pohled se tempo zvolňuje začátkem následující skladby The Contagion. Píseň obsahuje více chorálů a growl je spíše už doprovází, ovšem dlužno dodat, že nejde o žádný kulhavý doprovod. Přesto melodické pasáže a celkově klidnější koncept dávají tušit, že se postupně chystáme na přistání.
Jsme totiž u závěrečné Remembrance. Song začíná velkolepě a jeho atmosféra je velice působivá. Nečekejte však nářez ve stylu Hither Comes The Swarm. Tempo ustává a gradace se vrací zpět k zemi. Možná pod zem. Do temných hlubin. V písni je znatelná melancholie a nechybí příjemná melodičnost. Smutné, téměř až doomové pasáže jsou velice vkusnou tečkou za celým albem.
Ano, počítáte dobře. Celkem tu máme pouze šest skladeb, což oproti předchozí An Antidote for the Glass Pill s deseti songy může na první pohled vypadat osekaně. Opak je však pravdou. Každá ze skladeb má dostatek prostoru, a tak na vás čeká celkem 42 minut a 12 vteřin úchvatné muziky.
Počin hodnotím jako celkově velmi zdařilý s promyšleným konceptem. Poslechově velice čitelný, a přesto ne fádní. Jsem si jistý, že tímto albem svůj čas rozhodně nepromarníte.
Review by Jiří Hylmar
I like it when albums fight me, refusing to give up their secrets until they’re stuck in my head. Such is the case with England’s Lychgate, an act who count Ennio Morricone and Autopsia among their influences; oh yes, they operate in a musical sphere of metal which some refer to as extreme. What this means is anyone’s guess, I leave the pigeonholing to others because what I can tell you about them is that they have no limits with regard to what they write. Time signatures? They make their own.
Take that as the gauntlet being thrown down, things only grow more complex and unorthodox as this plays out.
They keep their tempos generally mid to low range with some vocals you’ll just have to hear to believe, going from the guttural to the angelic in a span of seconds. ‘The Contagion in Nine Steps’ is both a statement about the progression of civilization and the insidious nature of crowd behavior; if you don’t think these two are linked then I suggest you take a long, hard look at this world we’re all passing through without any filters or distractions. Look, look into the heart of what we’re doing here, play this album while you do so if you must; the message is clear, the resolution undeniable.
While I’m on that subject, the numerous layers of sound which these four parse out is ridiculously difficult to keep track of; they like to build up a collection of them and then tear it all apart, utilizing free form jazz elements to transition from one section of a song to the next. It is up to the listener to make that jump with them, straddling the connective auditory tissue while also maintaining enough composure as to not fall into the abyss lapping hungrily below. The technical aspects of their compositional dexterity are the purview of those who find such things to be of interest, I only know how this release makes me feel, what thoughts it puts in my head.
Cajoled through constriction which leads to complete capitulation; all the best laid plans of man, his arrogant egotism exposed to the world. Lychgate are beyond the boundaries of anything metal I have yet encountered, the closest thing this pair of ears have heard to them would be Skin Chamber’s second album ’Trial’ back in 1993 and that’s pushing it. The emphasis on relentless acoustical misanthropy, wave after wave of society’s insecurities silkily deposited on the shores of the subconscious; the hooks cleave and out to sea you’re pulled….
There’s just something about the loping menace of “Hither Comes the Swarm” with it’s demented carnival/slaughter house atmosphere that continues luring me back in a vain attempt to perceive all of its myriad possibilities. I cannot, however, which should come as no surprise as this is less an album and more a ritual borne out of vitriolic precision riven by chaos.
Review by Peter Marks
Unfortunately, I missed this album when it was released and am since reviewing this rather late. Before this album I had never heard of this band, and this album was my first exposure to them. Going into this album off of a Spotify recommendation, I had no idea that I would want to review this album. I knew nothing about it! Generally, Spotify will recommend me something that has been out for quite a while or has been out long enough for it not really to make sense if my aim is to review current music. Due to this I went into this album simply to listen with my ears, and not analyse it instantly as I do when an album comes out which I planned to critique. I'm glad I went in open-minded and adventurous, because The Contagion in Nine Steps is the most creative and bizarre album I have heard in a very long time.
Lychgate are an Avant-Garde Metal band out of London, sharing some members with Esoteric; another band I highly respect (who would do well to release something new soon as well... Not bitter). Because this album is my only exposure to them, I will only be talking about this album and not a background on the band at all. I'll dig in to their catalogue after this review, because to tell the truth they deserve that attention.
Contagion is an overwhelming journey through a variety of styles, time signatures, moods. There is a haunting yet reverent atmosphere to this album, likely due to the heavy and foreboding presence of a church organ all over this album. Kicking off the album with "Republic", one may wonder if the band actually know how to play instruments, sounds like an odd compliment but it fits. Off-time and sporadic organ chords are the first sounds we hear, we go from this to a relatively understandable chord progression leading the organ, a beautifully neo-classical clean guitar passage, a soaring guitar solo, back to the off kilter organ introduction. All within the first minute and thirty seconds of this song. Throughout this albums length, there is no discernible genre to name to describe Lychgate's sound. They stand so far apart from other contemporaries with the release of this album and with the sound they have crafted.
"Unity of Opposites" is the second track on this album and it ended up becoming my favourite on the album. This is possibly the fastest moving song on this album as well, as opposed to the stop and start aggression of "Republic" this track is a flowing, twisting path of choral chanting, non stop barrages of indecipherable guitar-work and the most focused and careful drumming I've heard in a long time on a Metal album. I can only do so much to describe this album, as typical as it may sound it needs to be heard to be understood, and even then it takes some time.
Every other track on this album has a different feel to it, almost all the tracks have a type of piano that doesn't appear anywhere else on the album, Vladimir Antonov-Charsky is the guest musician brought on to Contagion for all the keyboard/piano/organ work and he deserves the greatest credit here in my opinion. I honestly have no complaints or criticisms about this album, every song leads into one another so beautifully and every note here is where it was intended, this album was crafted perfectly. Every member of the band has a role to fill besides individual instrumentation here, without all the layers that this album has it would be a very different experience. The being said, the guitar-work is masterful: the band's two guitarists trade off harmonising with the other and playing completely different lines mixed at the same volume, which creates the clearly desired effect of disorientation. Dizzying and labyrinthine, The Contagion in Nine Steps raises the bar for Avant-Garde Metal in 2018.
Closing out the album, "Remembrance" provides a beautiful reprieve from the chaos and gloom of the past 5 tracks. Slow and melancholic, this track provides a soundtrack to a man contemplating his own impending death before finally accepting death. All members of the band participate in a powerful choir to deliver the most emotionally charged and powerful song on the album. This track specifically, is where all the individual instrumentation comes together perfectly, it encompasses what is so great about this album. Everyone is doing something completely different from the rest, yet it comes together so powerfully and uniquely that you'd miss it if you weren't looking for it.
Review by Kellan Shields
La noirceur, la vraie. Le bizarre, le vrai. Voilà l’essence même de The Contagion in nine Steps, le dernier album en date des Anglais de Lychgate. Je ne peux pas dire que je sois surpris, l’évolution était déjà énorme entre Lychgate (2013) et An Antidote for the Glass Pill (2015) mais l’originalité de ce groupe me laisse systématiquement pantois. La musique est de plus en plus progressive et technique (il suffit d’écouter les parties de guitares de « Unity of Opposites »), les ambiances plus profondes et funèbres que jamais, en cela bien aidées par de nombreux passages en chant clair travaillé à la reverb d’église, avec en plus un toucher et une vision musicale réellement uniques.
En six titres et une quarantaine de minutes, ce troisième album donne selon moi un nouvel élan au Black Métal et aux musiques sombres en général. D’abord parce qu’il transfigure les genres, ensuite parce qu’il démontre qu’il est encore possible d’avoir de la personnalité, que toutes les voies ne sont pas encore tracées et qu’il est toujours possible d’innover, de composer des choses pas encore entendues. Un disque superbe, une fois de plus.
Review by Willhelm von Graffenberg
Review Summary: Lychgate delve further into nightmarish realms, creating a third album which widens the divide already set in stone by the band's sophomore effort.
Extreme metal often draws the most divisive arguments when it is at its most explorative and adventurous. How far can one band take a particular sound, define it, and then deliver it with such conviction before it becomes tried and tested instead of fresh and exciting" For Lychgate, a project that was initially conceived to represent the darkest recesses of the human psyche, the limits of such a musical direction may not yet have been reached-or at least, 2015's illustrious masterpiece, An Antidote for the Glass Pill would have you believe. Over time, this sophomore effort has become just as lauded and derided for its blatant attempt at theatrical prowess as it has praised and respected for its distinctive fusion of magical sonic elements and macabre, electrifying atmosphere. If you thought that release was bewildering beyond human comprehension, just listen to Lychgate's latest effort, The Contagion in Nine Steps, and you'll once again be in awe.
Being in awe for either positive or negative reasons, that is. If you were one of the many who thought that An Antidote... was too ridiculous and overdone to be taken seriously, then you'll quite simply baulk at the band's latest release. But that's essentially the intent. Everything about Lychgate's latest release has been, in a nutshell, levelled up. The sinister compositions are more open-ended, the theatrical mastery is now on a grandiose scale, and the progressive/avant-garde attachments to the band's extreme metal precision is taken into new realms. Opener "Republic" begins with a build-up of organ-drenched delerium, harrowing stop-start rhythms and jagged riff work which in turn is further screwed into madness by Gothic, B-movie Horror style production values. It's a perfect statement of intent which simply delivers on all fronts, demonstrating a circus of talent which naturally turns out to be the most challenging song of the album. There are only six tracks on this album (interesting given that the album's title suggests there is nine), but each one takes it in turn to offer a fresh angle of the band's musical direction. "Unity of Opposites" for example, is tamer in its delivery, eschewing much of the bug-eyed heaviness of its predecessor and, for that reason, anything off Lychgate's previous two records.
For those who have heard Esoteric before, you will be pleased to know that The Contagion... has invited a style closer to doom metal than any other extreme metal sub-genre, and it seems that Chandler's unmistakeably demented vocal delivery has also taken a trip back to the harmonies of his main band. The dark, narrative voice within "Republic" for example is ridden with psychedelic darkness, propelling the surrounding instrumentation further into a shroud of sonic delerium. As the album continues however, the vocal delivery becomes more versatile. There are less earthy shrieks and inhuman growls than on An Antidote..., but replacing these are an abundance of distinguishable choral chants and almost angelic clean vocal work. Closer "Remembrance" for example, is ballad-like in its progression, but builds with effortless yet intriguing progression over a five-minute length which honestly feels shorter because of its undeniably soothing flow. Here, we are treated to the band's collective finesse, eschewing any grating or menacing aspect of their chosen style which was more obvious beforehand. Put simply, "Remembrance" is the perfect closer for an album such as this because of its placement in the tracklisting and revels in its open-ended feel.
The Contagion in Nine Steps unfortunately suffers from one distinctive flaw, although depending on your tolerance for Lychgate's previous core sound this may be presented as a positive boon. It was stated before in the review that the general musicianship reflects much of Esoteric's doomy albeit still psychedelic flourish. This basically means that the explosiveness and bug-eyed mania of previous effort An Antidote... has been lost in the process of building on a brilliant theatrical musical direction, but making up for it is a slightly more sensible songwriting ethic. None of these songs ever seem to threaten you with a sudden change in pace, and because of this it is all disguised as one-dimensional until further listeners open up and invite you deeper down the proverbial rabbit hole. However, it's hard not to get charmed by the organ-drenched intro of "Hither Comes the Swarm", or the ethereal clean vocal chants midway through "Atavistic Hypnosis". Adding to this the beauty of closer "Remembrance", and you can confidently be swayed from the fact that The Contagion... has a more settled feel, but one which is no less exciting or unique.
It's hard to recommend an album such as The Contagion in Nine Steps, because you have to be open to the challenge this sort of music presents, which essentially means that it requires multiple focussed listens. Nothing you hear will sound quite like this in 2018, and that's just the case with the band's previous effort, An Antidote for the Glass Pill. Unfortunately, even after multiple listens, this latest album will prove divisive, making the haters stand even further away from its presence and seeming ever more contagious to those who have loved every minute of Lychgate's past work.
Review by Robert Davis
Not so long ago I did announce that I’d put an end to the album recommendations / reviews section and today, I’ll do it and hopefully you’ll remember it to be with grace and honour. Those years of active scribbling were an integral part of my life and I had to choose a CD that summarizes all the magnificent shades of a genre that I care about so damn much. Although this task appears to be challenging at first sight, it was, in fact, for the first time so easy like never before. No matter where I looked, the directions always pointed towards Lychgate’s latest album “The Contagion in Nine Steps“. In this installment, I’d like to take you on a ride beyond the materialistic paradigm and plunge into a dystopian fiction of utter madness.
Lychgate are no strangers to SBM. Back in 2015, I featured their sophomore record, which turned out to be a significant mark in regards to how I would perceive avant-garde / experimental black metal from that moment on. The intelligence behind their craft reaches significantly higher levels of understanding about creativity. Therefore, it would come as no surprise that such a musical manifestation would be a tough cookie to crack, unless you are a very, very open-minded individual. As such, you should be stripped off of any prejudices and willing enough to let yourself flow into a spiral of mind-bending experience. So, are you in?
"The will of the inner heart is the secret lying suppressed."
– Atavistic Hypnosis
Very much like its precursor, “The Contagion in Nine Steps” comes through Blood Music’s frostbitten forge, whose digital output is available for free download. This time, however, the track list is slightly shorter in comparison, packing 6 tracks that sum up a total of 42 minutes playtime. Given the critically acclaimed releases of Lychgate’s past, I was beyond than curious of how this CD would turn out to be; reaching a whole new level or expanding the foundation laid down before, which I kinda anticipated to be the case.
In some respects my expectations were met, however Lychgate have let themselves roam completely detached from their past releases leading to some wild explorations with this full-length. What surprised me in the first place was the way each piece was constructed, taking a rather progressive turn. Unleashing the potential of multiple genres fused into a surrealistic outcome in a lighter and more inviting production took me by surprise. The menacing essence of the lyrical themes, which I’ll discuss later, have not been reimagined musically to the magnitude that I’d expect, making this album a whole new chapter. The one that I embraced with some more effort as I missed that suffocating oppressiveness that grips me every time I replay their self-titled debut or “An Antidote for the Glass Pill“.
Experimental and variable to such an extend that it borders disorientation manifested in a truly creative fashion requiring hard work to discover its full charisma. As weird as it sounds, this is exactly how I felt having spun “The Contagion in Nine Steps” multiple times. It is essential to commit to each track in order to let that demented genius crawl under your skin and spread its insanity, uncovering a spectacular picture like never before.
Fundamentally, this record goes head on avant-garde, leaving behind the black metal-infused arrangements and the omnipresence of the organ that dominated the previous record profusely. Instead, I can only half-assume that the complexity of the instrumentalship is meant to be matched with the intricacy of the topics that deal with metaphysical constructs dissolving into pure sinister consciousness. Technically advanced, written with a plethora of twists that evoke images of the fall of human civilization in sporadic order. This is where it gets extremely complex.
The texts of this 6-piece extravangaza are fuelled by deep philosophical views on consciousness, existence as well as fictional exemplification of swarm intelligence; I would say some of the conceptual traits in here speak to me of collective AI behaviourism but carried through a macabre prism. Such as Stanislaw Lew’s SI concept exhibited in his sci-fi novel “The Invincible”. Other than that, understanding of the crowd mechanics, the power of manipulation and rule over the masses, necroevolution against human degradation, inanimate mind evolving into a swarming mega organism shed light unto reality as most people fail to see. Just look around and see where things are heading for. In that regard, there is an enormous dose of pessimism that persists and the more you look into it, the more frightening it becomes, filling the gaps in this grand dystopian puzzle.
Fun fact: SI or swarm intelligence was probably the first notion of cellular robotic systems that was presented by Stanislaw Lew in 1964 in the form of a fiction. Who would expect that later back in 1989 Gerardo Beni and Jing Wang actually employed this concept in the field of artificial intelligence.
Other influencers such as Thomas Hardy, Elias Canetti, Gustave Le Bon and Georg Hegel largely impacted the rich fabrics of the lyrics. They are composed in an eclectic fashion; without an additional research into the work of the above mentioned authors, it will be a haul to distill the conceptuality all the way to the core meaning. That, I reserve for the curious individuals among yourselves.
As I hinted somewhere above, the levels of intricacy in the music are pretty damn high in comparison to what you might be used to listen to. Even though, “The Contagion in Nine Steps” borrows elements from multiple sources of both extreme and non-extreme sub-genres, it all flows cohesively. Initially, I was kinda startled as to the occurrence of those high-pitched power metal-like clean vocals here and there. Hell, after a few sessions even that made sense, adding more to the insanity that keeps on growing by the minute. Dare I say, among the opulence of talent spread across each of the 5 masterminds, I should point out that Greg Chandler (Esoteric) has outdone himself with a vocal mastery that dissolves the border between harsh and clean singing with such a grace.
For the keen listeners amidst the readers here, I feel obliged to confirm that among all the greatly executed facets, production does not fall any shorter. Mixing and mastering of the album is exceptional, ensuring that every aspect was handled professionally from start to finish. Regardless, if you are a regular, you should know me that I am not pretentious as long as the substance is of real high quality. In this sense, polished sound is just an additional icing on top for some more enjoyment in the end of the day.
Anyway, each of these musicians deserve equal praise for such a sharp work that is comprised of profound knowledge that is here to stay. Album of the year? Yeah, if you care about such lists. More importantly, this is a statement of what happens when minds merge into a unified creative force that tears down humanly obstacles and venture unrestrained into the astral plane. Thus, harvest the essentials, compile and deliver a masterpiece like no other.
With that, I’d like to thank Lychgate not only for the pleasure of this CD but also the down to earth attitude.
Just calling The Contagion In Nine Steps black metal or doom metal just doesn’t seem to cut it. To try to define exactly what this album is trying to sound like is going to be trying. Lychgate’s new full length album is a monstrous rendition of symphonic chemistry, funeral doom, gothic doom, progressive instrumentation, death metal growling, harmonious choir singing….this album is truly cinematic in it’s execution and delivery. The Contagion In Nine Steps is unlike anything I’ve heard before and I welcome it’s creativity and unique writings.
Walled with guitars and drums, we are immediately met with layers of metal within each song. Somehow, Lychgate manages to add more and more to the composition, changing tempos and utilizing their instruments and vocal talents to make each track as ominous as it is beautiful. The creative use of different vocal styles and instruments really makes this album stand out. The progressive nature in the song writing really makes the doom moments flow effortlessly. Use of the piano also adds a wicked gothic sense of style to the ominous tones omitting from my speakers. Crafted carefully and painfully, the songs found on The Contagion In Nine Steps is truly brilliant.
Creatively speaking, this album is incredibly good but is it enough to gain the interest of your typical listener? Someone looking for something epic within the first 30 seconds of the first song before forever discarding it? No. This album took me a minute to fully understand what I was getting myself into. The odd beginning of the album was hard to decipher as well and once I understood, I was in. During the second listen of the album is where things started to click. Lychgate put out something different and it will take a listen or two to grasp it. However, you may be turned off within the first 2 minutes of it and turn it off forever. Which is…you know, fair enough…your loss.
Lychgate’s new album, The Contagion In Nine Steps, is a must listen doom album. Utilizing styles pulled from many genres of metal and art, this album stands out from the rest without following trends or the ever so delicious funeral doom standards that I love. The album is out now so you have no excuse to dive in before you purchase it. A very dynamic experience, enjoy.
Review by Thomas Mergel
A church organ cues in followed by crushing guitars, soon to resolve in a doom laden atmosphere with black metal nuances and experimental tendencies. What a way to start an album. Lychgate have returned with their third opus, The Contagion in Nine Steps, an album inspired by various literary sources that share one common attribute: a philosophical viewpoint on the structure, function and characteristics of society. Two prime examples would be Stanisław Lem’s The Invincible, as stated by the band itself and Plato’s Republic. Aside from that, the title of the second track suggest that the writings of Georg Wilhelm Hegel have influenced the band in their own way. From the moment I read about this I knew I was in for an interesting ride and boy was I right.
Rest assured, Lychgate succeed at creating an album with staggering atmosphere, diverse dynamics and shifting moods. Getting into the instrumental aspect of this album was a bit alienating upon first listen. I had to focus on the bizzare structure of The Contagion to get through without being completely bamboozled by its eccentricities. Oddly enough, this led me to a trip through the album’s soundscapes, its intricating textures ranging from tender passages to bludgeoning funeral doom uproars and the crawling harmonies that intertwine gracefully for the most of its playing time. The instruments that stand out are the guitars and keyboards. But that should not lead you to conclusions that favor the rhythm section any less. Both bass and drums showcase exceptional skill and mix wise, they are phenomenal. In fact you should view this album as if it is performed by a single instrument with many voices. When you look at this album as a whole you understand that it oozes and morphs as a whole from shape to shape, section to section.
After that first listen occured, I began to get into reading the lyrics which are a great read in their own right. Especially the final track, Remembrance, is a stellar piece of writing. Of course much of that acclaim should go to Greg Chandler’s vocal delivery which is full of emotion and not only on this track, but on most of the album’s tracks since he often does clean vocals apart from the expected screams and growls. The themes are quite riddling as well. Adapting ideas from The Invincible, most notably Swarm Intelligence and unity against a common enemy, as well as The Republic, that cites the ideal of a just state, where all men fulfil their roles in a societal frame Lychgate twists those meanings morphing them into nightmarish prose. Republic is a prime example of that, claiming that too much freedom results in too much slavery.
After a fair amount of listens I can say that The Contagion in Nine Steps is a grower of an album, an album that invites the listener to take part in its mysteries and unveil its best hidden details. I’ll be honest here, when I first pressed play and the album began playing, I was expecting an entirely different thing. Alas, I was pleasantly surprised. From the hypnotic instrumentation to the conundrums and musings that are presented through the lyrical sheet, Lychgate offer a bold and vividly illustrated experience and a glance into their obscure mindset. Strongly recommended to anyone that has encountered the band’s work before, as well as listeners who look for experimental and thoughtful music with heavy atmospheres and challenging concepts.
Review by Giannis Panitsas
Following a multifaceted music pathway Lychgate has earned a solid status in the UK extreme metal scene and the latest effort “The Contagion in Nine Steps” aims to deliver an avant-garde collection of songs conceptually based on complex philosophical and psychological themes.
With an intoxicating atmospheric ensemble of extremely dark nuances and enigmatic melodies “Republic” opens the album and marks the beginning of a grandiose music journey as Lychgate meticulously craft a blend of ominous orchestrations, unconventional rhythmic variations and somber guitar phrases leading to doom tinged soundscapes and infinite desolation accompanied by theatrical clean vocals and diabolical growls.
“Unity Of Opposites” continues to evoke surreal soundscapes using dissonant tonalities in the impressive melodic & rhythmic guitar work and consequently putting aside any hint of catchiness as the band deliberately focuses on the creation of intricate instrumental passages naturally surrounded by the arcane grandeur of subtle atmospheric layers.
The somber piano melodies of “Hither Comes The Swarm” effortlessly embrace the overwhelming gloom of hypnotizing melodies maintaining a darkly doom pace enhanced by utterly dramatic vocals & menacing growls while guitars will always hold a primary role delivering additional avant-garde momentum as well as thicker riffing that will eventually lead to a faster blackened rhythm.
With intense epic vibes and triumphant moments “The Contagion” still feels exceptionally gloomy borrowing the ominous splendor of traditional doom metal to craft oppressively and often painfully slow heavy rhythmic dynamics but adds a generous dosage of fancy melodic guitars that inevitably channel a profound darkness in the midst of extremely dramatic atmospheres and theatrical vocals.
As Lychgate focus accurately on mature musicianship and elaborate sonic textures “The Contagion In Nine Steps” is a hymn to darkness that will constantly surprise the listeners with its unique and often uneasy flavors.
Review by Alexiel Divine
Quando tra le tue fila hai un artista che risponde al nome di Greg Chandler (frontman degli Esoteric), credo che nulla possa essere precluso. Se poi aggiungi altri musicisti che militano negli Acherontas o negli Ancient Ascendant, credo che tutto sia decisamente più semplice. Ecco che il terzo album per gli inglesi Lychgate potrebbe rivelarsi un esercizio di stile per sfoderare una prova di assoluto valore e prestigio. E questo è già avvalorato nell'opener di questo mirabolante 'The Contagion in Nine Steps', "Republic", in una magniloquente orchestrazione che lascia sin dai primi secondi a bocca aperta, per la caratura tecnica e la creatività già sprigionate dopo poco, in un'evoluzione sonora davvero imprevedibile e imperdibile. Come definire questo sound? Non è per nulla semplice, forse un doom sinfonico di stampo avanguardistico, impregnato di suoni progressivi in salsa gotica. Chiaro no? L'unica cosa certa è probabilmente la voce di Greg, che intreccia il suo insano growl con il cantato pulito di alcuni ospiti e con le prodezze di Vortigern, vero mostro alle tastiere, organo e mellotron, gli strumenti che più degli altri si riveleranno fondamentali durante l'ascolto di questo disco. L'atmosfera criptica di "Unity of Opposites" si trasforma da li a poco in giri chitarristici (e di basso) da death jazzato, cori dal sapore liturgico in un ambientazione che mi ha evocato i Tristitia, mentre la song prosegue in un frullato sonoro che lascia disorientato per il quantitativo di idee espresse in cosi pochi minuti. Una traccia di 360 secondi e poco più, in cui la sensazione finale è quella di aver ascoltato un intero album. Incredibile, perchè nulla appare scontato qui dentro. C'è finissima arte infatti nel saper creare e condensare in 40 minuti quello che ascolterete in 'The Contagion in Nine Steps', che si candida già ad essere uno dei migliori dischi dell'anno, sicuramente tra i più complessi. Con "Atavistic Hypnosis", pezzo ispirato al libro 'The Invincible' dello scrittore polacco Stanisław Lew, i suoni rallentano paurosamente e si entra in un incubo sonoro ad occhi aperti da cui sarà difficile riprendersi. È funeral ma non nell'accezione convenzionale del termine, non ci sono in effetti chitarroni profondissimi che vanno a rallentatore, ma solo suoni stralunati al massimo su cui si staglia la voce acida di Greg, in una progressione sonora comunque fuori da ogni tipo di schema, in cui le atmosfere si rivelano suggestive, surreali, e la proposta vede alcuni punti di contatto con gli americani Wyrding e nel cantato pulito anche con il folletto canadese Devin Townsend. Insomma, è intuibile che qui si entra nei meandri della sperimentazione che tanto prediligo e che alla fine i londinesi Lychgate non siano proprio una band come le altre. Ma questo lo si era già capito dalle precedenti release. Se comunque non siete ancora del tutto convinti, catapultatevi nel mondo sotterraneo di "Hither Comes the Swarm", un altro pezzo dove il delirante sound dei nostri trova modo di coniugarsi con derive dal sapore blackish. La musica classica, che già aveva primeggiato nel debut album, torna sovrana anche in "The Contagion", con giri maestosi di pianoforte e cantati puliti che entrano in collisione col growling infernale di Mr. Chandler in uno dei brani dotati di maggiore teatralità dell'intero disco, che nella sua seconda metà, rintocca campane a morto. Nonostante le mie parole al miele, sia chiaro che l'ascolto di 'The Contagion in Nine Steps' si rivela come un qualcosa di estremamente complicato, per quanto quest'album rientri tra i lavori più raffinati che io abbia ascoltato negli ultimi dieci anni. Serve una mente aperta, cosi come un cuore che sia in grado di abbracciare una musicalità cosi ostica e mai scontata. A chiudere il disco, il pezzo più breve del cd, "Remembrance", song che induce gli ultimi cinque minuti di riflessione, e che mostra un notevole approccio corale avvicinando nuovamente le proprie sonorità a quanto ascoltato dai Wyrding. Che altro dire, se non invitarvi a godere di questi 42 minuti di catarsi sonica che vi concilierà col mondo... dei morti.
Review by Francesco Scarci
Lychgate’s baroque black metal has been doing curious things since the band’s inception in 2011. Organs and keyboards are as much an instrument as the guitars or vocals, and it’s in this ecclesiastical void that Lychgate find their niche. Founded by Vortigern and given a voice by Esoteric’s Greg Chandler, the band are strangeness personified. ‘Republic’ is a disturbing and kaleidoscopic nightmare of meshing sounds; deep and rasped vocals clash with rich organs which in turn play off howls and discordant guitar textures. It’s not an easy listen and The Contagion in Nine Steps will take more than one, two or even ten full plays in order to dig under its skin.
‘Unity Of Opposites’ plays with choral chants and gives the record a feeling of grandness. Gorgeous clean voices ring out over the contrasting and soaring guitars – it’s a strange juxtaposition but it works, as do most of the odd styles here.
‘Hither Comes the Storm’ delves into deadly doom territory with chants again making an appearance, as well as bizarre keyboard rhythms and haunting whispers. It’s all very unusual but is put together in a cohesive way. In lesser hands, the oddities here would crumble under the weight of expectation but the minds behind Lychgate are devilishly formed and their music is buoyed by the peculiar.
Review by Cheryl Carter.
A lot of metal’s most egregiously cringe worthy moments come from the old-school pomp and grandiosity that tries to claim some sort of continuity with European classical music – or, more specifically, the Romanticism of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. Whether Malmsteen or his various clones cluttering Guitar Centers and pay to play venues across continents, it isn’t so much that they assert their love and fealty to the “true geniuses” of music, but that the scope is so damned narrow. Really, the truly gifted, the real avant garde metal musicians, know that there are actual living composers (or at least those who just recently died) who bent the terms “classical music” to new, unknown dimensions – Arvo Part, Gyorgy Ligety, even Philip Glass and of course the occasional grind saxophonist John Zorn SHOULD, but rarely DO color the palettes of classically influenced musicians of all stripes. It is god damned remarkable that Lychgate, in just five years, have established themselves as one of the most impressive avant garde metal groups since Celtic Frost. On their latest, “The Contagion in Nine Steps”, they display classically influenced chops while destroying metal clichés one mind bending track at a time.
Introduced by an extended organ solo, “Republic” feels the most immediately “classical” piece of the record – I of course had visions of Bach and the masked Phantom pounding away in the sewers of Paris – but the off-kilter rhythms and pulsating dissonance from guest keyboardist Vladimir Antonov-Charsky don’t settle into any comfortable black metal or classically Romantic patterns. Greg Chandler’s vocals are paradoxically distinct and inhuman – like some beastly orator screaming into a chasm. The clean, operatic background vocals serve as bizarre counterpoint but it all hangs together in a difficult, fascinating equilibrium. “Unity of Opposites”, a display of guitar virtuosity, parries back and forth between time signatures and musical modes – basically black math metal. The clean vocal harmonies anchoring each break in frenetic riffing are breathtaking.
“Atavistic Hypnosis”, a doom-indebted dirge that builds over a nearly seductive baritone growl, contorts into minor key arpeggios and painful dissonance. The multi-octave vocal ranges cropping up during the piece are breathtaking – there are few vocal virtuosos pushing themselves to these heights in any metal subgenre. The bizarre, lurching rhythm of “Hither Comes the Swarm”, feels, weirdly, like a jazzed up Morbid Angel. Vallely’s drumming on the album is incredible, but here he gets some really loose moments to color with flourishes, before launching into one of the most gratifying blast beat breaks I’ve ever heard.
“The Contagion” and “Remembrance” tone down some of the acrobatics and tread in collective transcendence. More than the prior songs, Lychgate seems to be focused on group dynamics; there are shred-worthy guitar scales, but they are countered by precise death growls, or clean operatic leads. “Remembrance” is like a dark reflection of Handel’s “Messiah”. With layered vocals, complex harmonies between guitars and bass, and shimmering tones, this could be the closing of a requiem mass. Yet there are passages of sepulchral quiet uncharacteristic of a bombastic Wagnerian finale. Like every moment of Lychgate’s “The Contagion in Nine Steps”, there are no simple, tried and true “classical” shortcuts on “Remembrance”. It is the masterful summation of a difficult record – one that won’t be for everyone, and certainly not for purists. But Lychgate are operating at an entirely different level on this record, and will likely swell their growing cult following before they even round ten years as an operating metal powerhouse. Consider me one of the converted.
Review by Mark Ambrose
Lychgate is terug met het album The Contagion In Nine Steps. Nummer drie inmiddels alweer van de Londenaren. Het moet gezegd worden dat dit album al een paar maanden uit is en dat deze recensie al veel eerder geschreven had moeten worden, maar verscheidene redenen hielden dit tegen. Toch is één van die redenen óók het album zelf, want The Contagion In Nine Steps is niet per definitie een album dat makkelijk weg luistert. Vele luisterbeurten waren dan ook nodig om een mening te vormen over deze nieuwe schijf en nog steeds heb ik moeite om goed onder woorden te brengen wat dit album zo opmerkelijk maakt.
Opener Republic wordt ingeleid met een toetsenspel dat erg symfonisch aandoet. Maar het is het veelvuldige gebruik van kerkorgels in combinatie met de zware doomriffs die het een epische saus geven. Ook op tekstueel vlak is Republic een sterk nummer dat zijn inspiratie put uit de utopie van vrijheid, de vrijheidsparadox, waarin onbegrensde vrijheid de mens tevens leidt naar zijn eigen slavernij.
Bij een albumtitel als The Contagion In Nine Steps verwachte ik persoonlijk ook negen nummers, maar het zijn er echter zes. Nummer twee, Unity Of Opposites, wordt geopend met een dreigend intro en naarmate het vordert, wordt het vooral gedragen door de verschillende gitaarpartijen die de revue passeren. Maar ook het zangkoor vormt een belangrijk element in dit nummer. Op tekstueel vlak wordt er volop gefilosofeerd over het concept van waarheid en waar deze tussen twee werelden zit. ‘’Barbarism is alive’’, met die woorden eindigt het derde nummer, Atavistic Hypnosis, één van de persoonlijke favorieten, welke met een kleine negen minuten op de klok ook meteen behoort tot één van de twee langste nummers van dit zesluik. De constant dreigende toon van een naderend einde van een beschaving wordt versterkt met grunts en gedempt blackmetalgekrijs om vervolgens af te wisselen naar een meerstemmige zang, dat op zijn beurt weer erg kerkelijk klinkt. En als dit nog niet voldoende variatie biedt, wordt er ook nog een traditionele (lees: normale) zangpartij aan toegevoegd, totdat de strot weer zwart spuwt. Waar bij Unity Of Opposites de variatie zat in de muzikale constructie, treffen we het bij Atavistic Hypnosis aan in de vocalen, waardoor het zowat op een metalopera gaat lijken.
Hither Comes The Swarm is een andere favoriet, dat een zeer log gitaarluid kent en een beeld schets van een wereld van nihilisme en anarchie. Kerkorgels worden bruut verstoord, wanneer plots het tempo flink wordt opgeschroefd. Een overdonderend nummer, waarin de muziek en het tekstuele thema elkaar perfect tegenkomen. The Contagion is zo’n nummer, waarover ik eerst van mening was dat het toch de pech heeft dat het na vier ijzersterke nummers komt en in vergelijking met die vier er niet echt uitspringt. Maar naarmate ik meer luisterde, begon ik deze mening bij te stellen. Met een duur van net onder de negen minuten is dit nummer het langste. Al kabbelt het eigenlijk te lang door na de eerste helft, maar met een eerste helft welke wel degelijk sterk is. Hierin vinden we nog een mix van sfeervolle death/doom met blackmetalinvloeden. Maar bij het slot vervliegt toch wat de concentratie, welke wel wordt teruggepakt wanneer er afgesloten wordt met een draaiende muziekdoos. Afsluiter Remembrance heeft een somber, depressief geluid en geldt als een wat kalme afsluiter. En Lychgate eindigt hiermee met een visioen van rennende paarden die vluchten, terwijl een naderend leger zijn opmars maakt richting het creëren van vergiftigde weides.
Zoals gezegd is The Contagion In Nine Steps geen makkelijk album. Het is geen tussendoortje voor op de achtergrond. Het is duister, maar toch verfrissend. Niet aangrijpend, maar wel treffend en punctueel. Met een duidelijke visie, maar die nog steeds erg lastig te omschrijven valt. Een album dat een perfect beeld schetst van zijn tijd!
Review by Frank Geerligs
Lychgate’s previous self-titled album was a potent brew of majesty and malevolence, grace and ground-shaking gloom full of tortured emotion, hate and disgust. Two years later, Lychgate have taken a large step forward with sophomore effort An Antidote for the Glass Pill, swelling into a much larger presence.
Greg Chandler’s raging, terror-inducing vocals still stun, but where guitars did most of the heavy lifting before, Antidote sees atmosphere dominate even more with haunting organs leading the avant-garde charge. The deeper approach and overwhelming use of organs give it a grander feel of ritual grimness, the extent of which was a surprise even given their liberal use previously. It’s a daring release, but fans of their more ceremonial tracks will be inspired.
Written by Matt Hinch.
I often complain that I don't like the same old blasting black metal bands pump out, so what about when they begin to abandon the concept of conventional blasting and they take a sharp turn into something different? That is what we are looking at with the second British black metal super group that boasts members from Esoteric, Macabre Omen, and Ancient Ascendant, are back with a second album. It starts of much different from the first album with enough dramatic build from the keyboards to sound like something from a King Diamond album....thinking "Conspiracy", though that might also be an Emperor influence creeping in. The first real song after the long winded intro, finds the drums hesitate to come in as they creep into the song rather than blast into it ...which I can respect. The first hint of a blast is under a weird synth like melody. Given the guitarist from Esoteric plays with these guys it makes sense that they would slow things down. It is so weird that I assume to like since I am not sure what to think of it. It's dark and has an odd malignant creepiness to it.
With a title like "I Am Contempt" you ready your self for some angry blasting. There is more than the first song. They hold on it for the first minute, before some shredded licks trickle over everything. The more conventional black metal sound gnashes it's teeth at the weirdness mocking it. Weirdness is not to suggest that that is something going on here that isn't metal. This album is very metal. The songs are not ten minutes, but very concise cramming many sounds and movements into compositions in the five minute range. The King Diamond keyboards return for "A Principle On Seclusion". It broods under the odd time signatures, hiding in the shadows as the demons whisper. By the end of the song it begins to run together with some of the other songs sonically.
They jerk you back and forth on the syncopation to certain sections of "Letter XIX", going into a blasty section around the four minute mark. At this point they are heading into crazy Sight territory and are now full blown prog metal. "Deus Te Videt" find the vocals going into an almost sung chant, before actually singing does come in which is very Emperor in its execution. Then they blast off like most black metal bands would, six songs in shows admirable restraint. The song ends abruptly before going into " An Illness Call Imagination" finds the vocals going into a more tortured black metal scream and the drummer embracing his more black metal side while the guitar takes a more angular route to offset this. The singing returns well. The growled vocals dip down lower for "An Acousmatic Guardian", that has more of a lumbering pound to it. The keyboardist is no joke , the song breaks down into a piano part which runs trills around the synth heavy build up.
It ends with the shred fest "My Fate to Burn Forever". On the song before The keyboardist show there chops and still served the song , here when it is shredding for the sake of masturbatory sacrament it can reach excess. It's hard to argue with results. They might have taken a different direction than where they were headed on the first album, but they are good at it so I will give this album a 9.
Written by Wil Lewellyn.
I vividly remember my first encounter with black metal (Burzum), a music so dissonant and evil-sounding that it left twelve-year-old me completely bewildered and flabbergasted. The scene of a metalhead couple that was enjoying this wicked ruckus in the middle of the cafeteria of a family-friendly ferry burned an indelible pentagram in my innocent mind (and I turned out great!). Only a few other virgin musical experiences such as Arnold Schönberg’s twelve-tone technique or Harsh Noise Wall impressed and confused me comparably. In metal, it was rare and legendary extremes like Gorguts that came close. Until recently, that is, when my ears were graced by the insanity that is Lychgate’s An Antidote for the Glass Pill.
Picture a monstrous, formless shadow, an organic black hole arisen from Victorian filth, hovering, absorbing, and devouring materia while millions of smaller entities buzz and lurch within its improbable darkness. That’s the dense, monolithic, and impenetrable sound of Lychgate. The incisive shrieks of K.J. Bowyer’s pipe organ reign triumphant, swallowing everything else and spurting monumentally harsh and aggressive phrases, as if riding the field on which all of humanity’s most gruesome battles took place at once. Beneath it, seesawing guitars, schizophrenic drums, propulsive bass, and nuanced inhuman growls all mesh into an impossible concoction, playing discordantly and chaotically, yet creating layers that sound cunningly composed and executed. In theory, the band plays symphonic black metal, but this music eschews categorizations, proving itself truly worthy of the “avant-garde” moniker.
The pipe organ, not the guitars, often acts as the primary building element in Lychgate’s convoluted approach and as the dominant creator of atmosphere. Take, for example, the twisted and tormented “A Principle of Seclusion” or “Deus Te Videt” with its haunting, droning choirs, which transform the genre into an altogether strange and unexpected organ-dominated form, but still, somehow, remain metal. On the other hand, “I Am Contempt” goes back to entertaining well-known black metal idioms. It shifts, deforms, and carves them into something unique – a tremolo of atonal screeches. Finally, scorchers like “Letter XIX” and “An Acousmatic Guardian” rise up as testaments to the creativity and programmatic diversity in the apparently disarrayed songwriting, making you believe that each sound in the great scheme of things was put there for a reason. Because, or in spite of all that controlled chaos, there’s nary a bad tune or lesser moment to be found.
While the Londoners’ 2013 eponymous début was a finely crafted and enjoyable piece of “avant-garde” black metal, An Antidote for the Glass Pill feels like a defining and groundbreaking moment. The musicians’ various streams of musical consciousness and influences, collected equally from 20th century composers and avant-acts such as Deathspell Omega, have gloriously coalesced with cryptic lyrical themes that revolve around existential motives and a rebellion against the acceptance of (post)modern society at face value. However you choose to interpret and experience this record, one thing is clear: it comes as a breath of fresh air in a genre rendered stale with pretentiousness and delusions of grandeur.
Tracks to check: “Letter XIX,” “An Acousmatic Guardian,” and “I Am Contempt”
Written by Roquentin.
La suite des aventures du projet Lychgate, fondé, pour mémoire, par Vortigern (The One) et devenu une espèce de supergroupe depuis.
Aran a quitté le projet et a été remplacé à la basse par le multi-instrumentiste Alan Webb (Ancient Ascendant, Navigator) et un certain S.D. Lindsley s’est ajouté au poste de guitariste. On note également la présence d’un pianiste et d’un organiste.
A l’écoute de ce second album, on reconnaît les traits de caractère (très prononcés) du premier album, les intros étant quasi similaires : un black metal dense et riche, avec des composantes atmosphériques, doom, mélodiques voire symphoniques, avec cette utilisation tout à fait inédite des claviers qui donne une ambiance surnaturelle, digne d’une musique de film d’épouvante gothique.
Le travail de composition s’est apparemment déroulé sur deux années complètes (2012 et 2013) et on ne peut que constater à quel point leur musique a encore progressé.
Même si ça n’apparaît pas à la première écoute – encore que… -, une étude plus approfondie révèle des arrangements plus poussés, une plus forte présence des claviers – en particulier de l’orgue.
De fait, Vortigern s’est encore un peu plus inspiré de la musique classique, ainsi que des musiques de films des années 60, mais également de la musique concrète et de la musique contemporaine. Malgré l’étonnante complexité à laquelle ce mélange a abouti, tout est orchestré de main de maître par les protagonistes, sans que cette évolution de taille dénature en quoi que ce soit l’essence de ce qu’était le groupe à son premier album.
Les arrangements et mélodies possèdent cette dualité entre une forme classique, dans tous les sens du terme, et cette dissonance propre au black metal évolué et moderne auquel Lychgate s’est voué. Et pour cet album, ils ont même osé chant clair et chœurs : c’est très réussi, bien assorti et ils n’en abusent pas.
La musique a donc clairement gagné en profondeur sans pour autant perdre sa clarté et sa ligne directrice initiales.
An Antidote… s’avère donc encore plus passionnant que son prédécesseur, encore plus ambitieux.
Lychgate rivalise sans problème avec les compositions les plus complexes d’un Emperor ou d’un Abigor.
Au niveau rythmique, Tom Vallely a aussi monté le niveau d’un cran, ce depuis qu’il joue également en tant que percussionniste dans un orchestre classique.
Un petit mot sur le concept de l’album : il s’inspire de la théorie de Jeremy Bentham du Panopticon, le modèle de prison dans laquelle une personne surveille tous les prisonniers sans que ceux-ci puissent se savoir observés ; concept qui a été extrapolé dans certains modèles sociétaux, comme c’est le cas dans le fameux livre de George Orwell, 1984.
Le titre de l’album et les paroles font même référence à deux dystopies, aussi inspirées du Panopticon : Nous de Yevgeny Zamyatin et Insatiabilité de Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz.
Même si je m’attendais clairement à quelque chose d’élaboré, je dois dire que je fus tout de même bluffé par ce disque, tant il représente un travail colossal à tout point de vue.
Derrière cette étiquette cache-misère d’avant-gardiste – que je n’aime guère mais qui est commode pour désigner ce genre de produit - se cache une musique d’une richesse et d’une ingéniosité peu communes, plus personnelle que jamais. Bien que ça reste du metal extrême autant dans l’intention que dans l’exécution, An Antidote… va bien au-delà et propose une brillante synthèse d’influences multiples et variées autant qu’elles sont bien assimilées.
Written by Azagtoth.
Now, who doesn’t appreciate a massive organ? Lychgate certainly do, as theirs takes centre stage for album number 2, ‘An Antidote for the Glass Pill’.
While not wanting to sound dismissive and flippant, when a particular instrument plays such a big role in a recording, it should get a mention straight off the bat. Of course, there was a church organ featured on the first Lychgate album, but that was more of a supporting role, rather than a lead part.
Here, it DOMINATES this conceptual work, but does so in a good way. This is no mere exercise in horror cheese (à la Ghost), it’s an integral componant to the baroque nature of the album, and its presence is sure to be appreciated by any fan of avant garde extremity.
Lychgate mainman Vortigern has constructed an album based metaphorically on British philosopher Jeremy Bentham, and his ideas of the Panopticon, an institutional building that allows a single watchman to observe all inmates without them being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. A physical impossibility, but a method of behavioural control via uncertainty. It also draws it’s framework of dystopia from two sources of literature, Yevgeny Zamyatin’s ‘We’ and Stanisław Witkiewicz’s ‘Insatiability’.
Heavy themes, that provide inspiration for the album’s title, and musically translates as 10 tracks of doom-influenced black metal, with full pipe organ backing.
Immersive and unnerving, and quite cinematic in its scope, ‘An Antidote for the Glass Pill’ is best “enjoyed” with eyes closed, and mind open.
The ominous tolling bells and dramatic organ and keyboard swirls of ‘Unto My Tempest’ set the scene, while ‘Davamesque B2′ brings in the vocals from Esoteric’s Greg Chandler, which veer from rasp and scream to lower intonation throughout the album. The drumming is understated for the most part, but no less enthralling, and the guitars are not overly flashy, serving as an accompaniment to the majestic organ flurries. In fact, it’s during the stunning ‘Letter XIX’ that you realise how tight the playing is on this recording, as tempos shift from blasting to military march. Hell, on ‘The Illness Named Imagination’, we’re even into waltz time. The death chugs of ‘An Acousmatic Guardian’ prove pretty muscular, and ‘My Fate to Burn Forever’ shows a proggy side, that at times sounds a little bit like Italian soundtrack supremos Goblin, which is no bad thing.
The whole album is unified by some atmospheric soundscapes that are capable of sending shivers down the spine, and adds to the drama and tension of this rather unique-sounding record.
‘An Antidote for the Glass Pill’ is a heady brew for sure, but one that stridently deserves your time, respect, and appreciation.
Written by Stuart Caroll.
Black metal can be an enigmatic beast; from it's Norwegian origins to USBM to anywhere else in the world, it varies from band to band and continent to continent. Enter the UK's Lychgate and their 2nd full length, An Antidote For The Glass Pill; a thoroughly horrifying album in the best way possible. Organs are a major piece to this quintet's sound and they at times can sound like a more mysterious Mr. Bungle. The overarching atmosphere is that of say playing some of the original Resident Evil games without a strategy guide; never knowing what lurks around the corner.
Take for example the first track that showcases their style, 'Davamesque B2'; it swirls in and out of riffs and chords played through the organ as if it were a theme to a diabolical version of Clue. The feeling of impending doom is omnipresent and can be made real as the harsh vocals of Greg Chandler combines with the clean vocals and organ skills of Vortigern to scare the hell out of listeners. The more ominous and chilling sections feel like the bridge in an Opeth song and can inspire many of the same emotional reactions.
Drum fills pepper 'Letter XIX' and add a solid groundwork for the rest of the band to work with. Who would have thought that a black metal song would be built off of organs and drums? More traditional black metal song structures exist on 'Deus te Videt' with the slow plod of guitars feeding into the chanted vocals and of course giving way to the aforementioned pipe organ.
Traditional fans of black metal should flock to this album; why you may ask? Because it has all the hallmarks of being a black metal album musically and can be personified as a black metal Phantom of the Opera. This is by no means a traditional album, nor is it an easy listen; over time you pick up more and more pieces to this oh so intricate puzzle and it starts to take shape. Lychgate have promptly left you a piece of swirling evil that might make Portal or Mitochodrion blush (remember I said might). If you enjoy a bit of mystery and atmosphere to your metal listening look no further than An Antidote For The Glass Pill.
Written by Tom Campagna.
O Panie ! Co za zacne cudo ukazało się na tym smutnym świecie. Drugi album angielskiego Lychgate to spory postęp w krótkiej historii zespołu i jednocześnie ciekawy dla słuchacza kierunek, który ów black metalowy akt obrał.
Dzisiejszy black metal to już zupełnie inna materia, mocno zakorzeniona w standardach ale czerpiąca garściami z całego ekosystemu muzyki metalowej, a nawet i wykraczającej daleko po za jego granice. Okay, niby nic odkrywczego, jednakże na swoim najnowszym dziele Lychgate zgrabnie łączy wszystkie te organizmy, które pozornie ze sobą nie powinny współgrać. Tutaj black metal ściera się z barokiem, wręcz z nim egzystuje współtworząc jeden, nieprzewidywalny w swym funkcjonowaniu nowy twór. Twór, czy raczej system emocji nasączonych szaleństwem i obłędem (“Letter XIX”), ale i miejscami bardziej spokojnych i mniej agresywnych, mających za zadanie stworzenie odpowiedniego klimatu (“Davamesque B2”), który będzie mógł sprawnie oddziaływać na słuchacza. I o ile na swoim pierwszym wydawnictwie Lychgate używało organów jako instrumentarium mającego podkreślić ową aurę, tak na “An Antidote for the Glass Pill” są one już instrumentem stojącym na równi z resztą orkiestry, a miejscami wręcz wychodzącym przed szereg (“My Fate to Burn Forever”). Dzięki temu właśnie muzyka anglików zyskuje charakteru. Narzuca przy tym odrobinę świeżości i polotu, jednocześnie nie tracąc nic na swojej muzycznej agresji. Tym samym Lychgate stara się odchodzić od skojarzeń z emperorowymi klimatami, które dało się odczuć na pierwszym wydawnictwie, a buduje w ich miejsce swoje własne fundamenty muzyczne o solidnej i jednocześnie ciekawej konstrukcji.
Bardzo dobry materiał, który obok innych po raz setny udowadnia, że black metal to bardzo pojemny gatunek, którego możliwości twórcze ograniczone są tylko i wyłącznie umysłem kompozytora.
Written by Łysy.
Lychgate. First time I heard the name I was like “Ah, don’t tell me they made a metal band with World of Warcraft shit inside, héh?” and then, ONLY THEN, I realized I was thinking about the ‘Lich King‘. Then, I lowered my head down in shame and I booed myself. That’s how I work. Nice éh? Imagine living with it.
Anyway. When I looked a bit more, I realized that members of Esoteric, Sanctus Nex and fucking Omega Centauri are there. I read “black metal”, but I understood something completely different. Ladies and gentlemen, after one album in 2013, we have a long titled album which is an absolute mess of grand art. I mean it. I am honest, that’s my problem, and I’ve been working on this review for MONTHS now. And I can finally say it : this is a masterpiece of foken weir’ shi’ (that’s a British accent. Seriously brov’)
An Antidote for the Glass Pill. I don’t even know what it means but I don’t care much. What I can say is that, if you want a résumé of how I could describe this… this musical thing, it would be something like this :
‘On a nice day, several British musicians were bored. They decided to take a doom trip in Finland where they saw SKEPTICISM. They were all like “oh mate that’s dope! Let’s make a band with organs n shit!” and some other stuff. Yet, GREG CHANDLER was like “Ah man, I don’t wanna make doom, I already have the best avantgarde funeral doom band ever. Let’s make some black metal” and they started, slowly, to think about something BUT they eventually ended up in making avant garde extreme metal with organs all the way!’
And you got it. This album is a great, great, GRAND album. Mixing jazz elements, a fucking bigass organ, extreme metal mainly with a sick mood which sometimes reminds you of Spaulding‘s smile if you know who I’m talking about. I would like to put French for this band : “La Grandeur et la Folie“. Google it. Impressive.
I can’t say I like this track more than this one. I’ve been, on those past 3 days, listening only to this 50 min album and I don’t care about the titles. Not today (like Arya). Everything is absolutely fantastic. Incredible magick mood with some of the most elegant Gothic ones, EVEN SYMPHONIC ELEMENTS YOU KNOW but as well as some sick crazy dissonant moments and NO, NO I’M NOT GOING TO TALK ABOUT DEFSPELOMEGAH BECAUSE THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT. LYCHGATE PREVAILS, FOFOKSEK!
This is chaos. Incredible chaos, put in order. You don’t know, nothing is dark, nothing is joyful, it’s all weird, all the way. But you always fall down on your feet and manage to be like “Blimey!” and voilà. Add some of the best clean voices which are giving a weirder mood, like “HEY WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE OF HORRIBLE SUFFERINGS BUT LET’S SING FIRST”. Sick. It’s sick. Seriously. I want more.
So yes. No. Okay. I like almost everything. I’d miss a bit more of the savagery, well dispersed on this album, maybe too much. Also sometimes I feel a sentiment of a lack of power, I don’t know if it’s the mix or maybe the habit of listening to this. But we cannot say anything against the musicians who are, let’s say it, absolute nutters. And it’s a pleasure, a grand pleasure, to hear Monsieur Chandler singing in harsh black metal. A very weird album which could be a mixture between Tim Burton‘s twisted mind, Resident Evil zombies, Spartan choirs, and the best from Dimmu Borgir. This is hard, man. And those rosbeefs wanted me to make a video out of it. I could just make a seizure and start to convulse : that would be even more helpful. Téh.
Written by Déhà.
Lychgate’s sophomore effort An Antidote for the Glass Pill is an album I’ve had in my review queue for a while now, but it has taken some time to fully absorb everything that is happening throughout its ten songs. While the band’s 2013 self-titled debut had a distinguishable black metal base with avant-garde elements seeping in to give the record its own nuances, Lychgate has upped them even further this time around for a sound that’s no longer solely black metal but still captures that haunting, tense atmosphere. More progressive and avant-garde than ever before, it’s a rollercoaster ride of an effort that demands effort from the listener to fully make sense of, but those who choose to do so will discover that this British group has pushed beyond the normal genre boundaries and reached a sound that is all their own.
An Antidote for the Glass Pill is significantly longer than its predecessor, coming in at close to 50 minutes in length. Lychgate makes it clear from the very beginning that this record is going to head in drastically different directions while still maintaining that tense and otherworldly atmosphere they were able to create previously. The organ and keyboards are now front and center, driving the instrumentals forward on every single track, with the eerier melodies creating much fuller soundscapes that are as unsettling as they are theatrical in nature. Black metal still plays a role in the guitar tonality but the song structures are no longer oriented around that genre’s typical instrumentation, with quite a few sections coming in as slower dirges and twisting around to have more of a progressive/avant-garde feel. It can be a lot to take in right from the get-go, and while the prominence of the organ and keyboards makes each song on An Antidote for the Glass Pill fit together stylistically they all take a slightly different approach and have so much going on that it will likely take multiple listens to fully absorb. But give this one the time it needs and you’ll discover that Lychgate is able to reach absolutely stunning levels of thick atmosphere that once everything clicks into place you’ll find yourself returning to it again and again. It’s hard to think of another album in recent memory that sounds anywhere close to what the instrumentalists have put together here, as it’s half black metal and bleak, forlorn doom crossed with traditional church organs and some spacey keyboards that wouldn’t sound out of place on a progressive rock record.
Greg Chandler once again delivers an intense performance, sticking towards the higher end of the spectrum with shrieks and screams that tower over the layered instrumentals. While the instrumentation may not always be focused on heaviness, the abrasive nature of Chandler’s vocals fill in those gaps and there are quite a few sections where his room filling screams fully merge with the organs and other melodies to create a truly terrifying and spine chilling sound. I do think that sticking with the harsher ranges for the entire 50 minutes could have potentially become repetitive, so it’s nice to see that there are moments where Lychgate transitions over to some chanting and other clean pitches that have an occult, ritualistic sound. While completely on the opposite side of the spectrum in style, they’re still just as ominous and powerful, allowing the performance to consistently overwhelm the listener’s senses.
An Antidote for the Glass Pill finds Lychgate shedding almost all of their traditional black metal elements in favor of something much more twisted and unpredictable. It has an unmistakable theatrical flair emanating from the organs and keyboards, but it’s used in a way that gives off a tense and unsettling feeling that’s just as dark and twisted as anything else you’ll hear in the black metal or doom realms this year. The emphasis on a more avant-garde and progressive approach to the writing makes it an album that will take some time to fully immerse yourself in, as there’s always something different happening on each song and quite often you’ll expect the band to be heading in one direction only for them to throw a complete curveball. But that’s what makes it such an exciting listen, especially once everything clicks into place, and these guys have managed to make an ambitious push beyond into the unknown. Turn the lights off and let all of the eerie and haunting tones fill your room, and you’ll start to get an idea of what Lychgate is capable of generating.
Written by Chris Dahlberg.
As a grey mist descends upon the grime-encrusted banks of the Thames, a lonely church bell tolls amongst the myriad alleyways of historical London; five figures appear out of the gloom and close in with nefarious intent. A lonesome figure waits within, silhouetted against the dim infernal light, his hands perched feverishly over the rows of keys that adorn the immense pipe organ, the instrument of antiquity dominating the building’s interior with its looming visage.
As the quintet make their way through the sheltered churchyard entrance that has bequeathed them their name, the organ’s blasphemous cacophony penetrates walls, windows and doors as the once Christian sanctuary prepares to have its presupposed virtue deflowered eternally.
On the surface, An Antidote for the Glass Pill—the sophomore album of London-based black metallers Lychgate—is a gothic Victorian horror show. Delve a little deeper into its wonderfully elaborate concept, invest a little time with its fifty minutes of resplendent chaos, and what begins to surface is an wholly different entity that all but shuns such banal indulgences.
The central theme is based around Jeremy Bentham’s 18th century conceptual Panopticon construction, used here as a metaphor for critiquing postmodern society. This also ties in with the dystopian worlds introduced in Stanislaw Witkiewicz’s novel ‘Insatiability’ and Yevgeny Zamyatin’s influential 1920s work ‘We.’ The album title, song titles and lyrics all revolve around these themes, strengthening the idea — just as in Orwell’s more eminent opus 1984 — of authoritative figures using the illusion of permanent surveillance to instigate control and supremacy over society, and to instil discipline within the population.
The first noticeable—and potentially unique—aspect of the album is the disorienting whirlwind emanating from the church organ, with renowned organist Kevin Bowyer on board to deliver his flawless and insatiable contributions that boost the band beyond the realms of their exceptionally well received self-titled debut. Initially assumed to be a mere adornment to the compositions (as could be heard previously), it very soon becomes apparent that the bombastic, earthy timbre not only controls the music, but regularly takes precedence over the guitars to form the backbone of the album. The adjacency of euphony and atonality — especially noticeable through Bowyer’s contributions — is a key element within this remarkably well composed work; an element that becomes more and more dramatic as time progresses, resulting in colossal crescendos of tense, orchestral clamour and moments of sinister disquiet, laced around individual notes and chords.
The band’s manifold influences — from Emperor and Thorns through to Bach and Liszt — allows them to utilise both classical and contemporary styles and techniques; drummer and percussionist T.J.F. Vallely’s recent involvement with a number of classical ensembles further accentuates this sensation, as the likes of ‘Davamesque B2’ and ‘A Principle On Seclusion’ mix blast beats with doomier and more intricate tempos, the spiralling organ all the while clutching to the music like a possessive spirit and wrenching the rhythmic structure in any direction it chooses.
To top off such a high quality output, Esoteric’s Greg Chandler handles the vocals with ferocious efficiency, with ‘My Fate to Burn Forever’ and the striking ‘Letter XIX’ unveiling his full capabilities; the latter a maelstrom of avant-garde metal and scattered staccato bursts that opens up the more progressive aspect of Lychgate’s repertoire.
Despite the black metal element never truly diminishing, the album remains incredibly melodic throughout, and although bordering at times on the symphonic side of the genre, An Antidote for the Glass Pill finds itself on an entirely different level to what may be expected when using such adjectives. The multi-layered guitar work and the organ’s perpetual resonance are the primary source of this melody, so when the vocals occasionally venture into similar territory it becomes the icing on the cake for this superlative masterwork. ‘Deus te Videt’ and closing number ‘The Pinnacle Known to Sisyphus’ introduce some outstanding harmonised chanting, while ‘The Illness Named Imagination’ provides a showcase for Vortigern’s impressive clean voice, sublime amidst the squall.
Elsewhere, the furious aural assault of ‘An Acousmatic Guardian’ gives way to a beautiful and unnerving piano piece before returning to the tumult once again. The meticulous detail and arrangement of the individual compositions is jaw-dropping, and coupled with the overall concept, it becomes startlingly clear that Lychgate have created something very special here. At once esoteric and flamboyant, An Antidote for the Glass Pill rises far above far above mere gothic hedonism and theatrical pomp – it is a stunningly ambitious release from a group of musicians whose grandiose vision has been fully realised, never to waver from its singular path.
Written by James Parry-Smith.
Now here’s some shit right here. UK black metal gloom merchants Lychgate made quite an impression on the world with their debut in 2013’s self-titled album. In a quick two years, they have returned to release An Antidote for the Glass Pill on Blood Music records. It seems that Finland’s Blood Music was wise to sign Lychgate for their sophomore release, as it’s really an album that stands far apart from the herd – it sure doesn’t sound like anything I’ve heard before, and deserves the accolades it is sure to garner.
Grand strokes of ominous tidings and foreboding madness, executed in highly original form, with impeccable musical prowess and vibes dark as night await the listener on AftGP. The first thing that creates the originality in the sound is the highly prominent church organ throughout the album. The band creates a palpable mood – odd and frightening, Lovecraftian themes meeting a Sherlock Holmes thriller, under the spell of progressive black metal. The whole affair evokes the feeling of being spellbound in a church graveyard and bearing witness to something very sinister, elaborate, and hypnotically consuming.
Twisted and jagged melodies laid out by guitars (there are three of them in the band) snake around diverse rhythms and furious vocals. Nifty fretboard play is on display as well, always remaining as a layer to help paint the picture, rather than a stand-alone (solo) display. And these guitars sound good, with rich, clean production values throughout the album. These songs are certainly not highly accessible to the casual listener, as repetition and catchiness of melody is not really in the cards. It doesn’t need to be, yet there is abundant and vibrant melody here, everywhere, including tastefully done clean vocals. The songs progress like thematic movements, really with a cinematic feel. The album plays like a top-notch musical might (if said musical were inspired by vintage horror, touches of early Mr. Bungle, and savage Norwegian black metal). I’d see that.
Antidote for the Glass Pill is an experience and quite an achievement. Without a doubt an album that requires a couple listens to digest all that is happening here, for it’s a lot. In the end, you still might not know just how you should feel, but understanding that you went on quite a trip…and won’t take another one like this anywhere else.
Written by Daniel Keating.
Gawd we really needed something new, something unique, something spectacularly bizarre. Open the curtains, lead us into a crypt musically, scribe before us with aural might a portrait of the macabre. We seek to be transported through dark corridors dripping in mildew, to smell the dried marrow of ages of death under our feet, oh lead us through melting cobwebs with the dusted shells of extinct insects, lead us farther, farther into the wastes below in the layers of filth. Such things we desire, for we tread in cemeteries long forgotten, overgrown with roots and ivy, where scarcely a name can be deciphered and it seems but a field of lonely, symmetrically placed stones, like some sort of ancient, heathen ritual ground. What better genre for such an experience than black metal, which thrives on loathing? What better aesthetic than black metal, which covers itself in tones of shadow? And what better country for such a performance than England, where centuries of history, spirits, and rain, have created the most fertile of ground, in the sense of vile? Well, Lychgate are the answer, there can be none other.
First, let us say that Blood Music is quickly becoming one of the most diverse of labels, something truly difficult these days. With everything from cyber metal to dark snythwave, there seems no clear theme to any of it, yet it all fits together somehow. Add to their roster Lychgate, returning after their much-lauded S/T from 2013, released by Mordgrimm, and you’ll get what they’re about, that being things which you can never anticipate. Now, having heard the band’s last one, it’s quite easy to consider it something close to a funeral, with its trudging presence, like a dark procession to a grave, complete with organs. This time around, however, they’ve done something much different, with such elements being merely part of an entire symphony of the grotesque.
An Antidote for the Glass Pill is one of the most difficult releases to fathom that we’ve ever seen. It confronts on so many levels the first listen is merely so you know something, in fact, does exist that can be called metal, in a sense. The spectacular thing is that Lychgate have essentially, and actually, created a symphonic presentation best considered a legitimate combination of classical and black metal. Not that usual type; superficial, tedious, transposed from the theater to the club via guitar, nor with redundant keyboard strings. There’s much more to be found here, perhaps a lifetime’s worth. Once you understand there’s practically nothing traditional anywhere, you realize it’s something like watching rotting curtains in a dilapidated theater opening, as an orchestra begins to perform with some hooded cretin channeling the tempo through a moldered bone arcing back and forth in the air, skeletal musicians following its lead. The musicianship here is absolutely marvelous, and the combination of such widely different musical aesthetics almost godly. Breakdowns with organ and shrieking? Piano sweeps that somehow fit without sounding ridiculous? How is it possible? Suffice to say it has been done. The grand performance Lychgate provides is almost overwhelming, but there is one thing to say in terms of criticism. For all the greatness here, and trust us there’s a ton, An Antidote for the Glass Pill can, quite often, come off as too theatrical. As such, it occasionally reaches the point of being difficult to take seriously, where the combination of vastly different genres ends up eliminating that which is critical to darker metal, specifically that enmity for humanity that bands with less style, and less production value, can pull off much easier. Thus, though this is a work of genius, we think it’s best to consider it somewhat transitional to further greatness. Completely worth every second of your life, but after several listens the likely feeling most will find rising to the surface is something closer to melodrama. Regardless, Lychgate deserve much praise for what they’ve done here, and probably an interview from us.
Written by Stanley Stepanic.
In 2013, Lychgate dropped a stellar self-titled debut that stacked melodic funeral doom atop brooding avant-garde black metal. Considering that vocals were helmed by Greg Chandler from U.K. doom lords Esoteric (who also love themselves some epic prog-rock excursions), the growls were the perfect shining jewel in a crown of atmospheric bleakness. To get any idea of the weird and wild ride Antidote embarks on, one must keep that "avant-gard" tag in mind, because the amazing metamorphosis this band has undergone leaves them nearly unrecognizable - and damn near undefineable.
Collaborating with classically trained organist Kevin Bowyer, Lychgate actually craft their songs around the exalted wails and spiraling lines of a church organ, while guitars trail and shadow in plodding, sometimes jarring progressions. Notice how "riffs" were not mentioned there. That's because there really aren't any. The guitars have been regulated to another tool of atmosphere and, when needed, are brought in to bolster the batshit crazy fusion-rock drum rhythms. Chandler's apocalyptic howls imbibe paranoia and a wish for retaliation against the oppressor, but the shrieks are sometimes sprinkled with clean-singing passages that don't uplift so much as intensify the claustrophobic labyrinth.
"Claustrophobic" is the key word here, as the album's dystopian themes use the 18th century panopticon as a metaphor for modern-day psychological / emotional deterioration in the face of technologically enhanced and state-endorsed oppression. A listener most likely will not walk away humming - or really even remembering - specific songs or phrases, but the all-consuming mood of existential angst will stay with you, encouraging repeat listens even if the amorphous and hugely ambitious tunes don't.
Written by Shawn Bosler.
Projekto branduolį sudaro vokalistas/gitaristas Greg Chandler (ESOTERIC), bosistas Aran (ex-TRIST, ex-LUNAR AURORA), gitaristas/klavišininkas/vargonininkas Vortigern (THE ONE, ex-SPEARHEAD, ex-ORPHEUS, ex-ARCHAICUS) ir perkusininkas/būgnininkas Thomas Vallely (ex-ORPHEUS, SANCTUS NEX, OMEGA CENTAURI). Tiesa sakant, pradžių pradžia buvo 2001 metais, kai Vortigern sukūrė projektą ARCHAICUS, kurio muzika galima pavadinti atmosferiniu juodmetaliu. Netrūkus prie jo prisijungė būgnininkas Herodian (2002-2003 metais), o paskui gitaristas Nephilim (2003-2006), nors visas vadžias laikė projekto įkūrėjas. Buvo išleistos kelios demo juostos, kurių žinomiausia buvo "Beneath the Horizon" (2003 m.). Sulaukta nemažai gerų atsiliepimų iš metalinių fanzinų, bet viskas taip ir būtų likę giliame pogrindyje, jei ne "didžioji pertvarka". Juk visiems įdomiau tapo, kai prisijungė ESOTERIC vokalistas. Perklausius debiutinį albumą užsiminiau, kad artėjant link pabaigos pamažu išblėso visa ta gaivališka energija, kuri pulsavo įrašo pradžioje. Įdomu, kas laukia naujame jų darbe.
Darbas išleistas vinilo (200 vnt.), CD (1000 vnt.) ir skaitmeniniu pavidalais. Norint pasiekti didesnio originalumo skambesyje, pakviestas profesionalus vargonininkas Kevin Bowyer.
Albumo koncepcijai grupė kaip savo šerdį paėmė Panoptikoną, kurį kadaise suprojektavo mąstytojas Jeremy Benthamas. Milžiniškas kalėjimas, kur visi vienas kitą stebi ir kontroliuoja: kad mažiau dykinėtų ir daugiau dirbtų, nevogtų ar nepriekabiautų prie kolegų. Egzistuoja keletas J. Benthamo Panoptikono versijų. Visoms joms būdingas ypatingas architektūrinis pavidalas – žiedo formos pastatas su stebėjimo bokštu centre. Kalėjimo prototipe apskritimo formos pastatas yra padalytas į daugybę vienučių, išsidėsčiusių per visą jo plotį ir turinčių po vieną langą išorinėje ir vidinėje pastato sienose, kad krintanti šviesa celę perskrostų kiaurai. Stebėjimo bokšte perimetru įrengiama stiklinė langų galerija, išeinanti į vidinę žiedo pusę. Bokšte sodinamas kalėjimo prižiūrėtojas, o kalėjimo vienutėse uždaroma po nusikaltėlį.
Kalėjimas turėjo būti pastatytas taip tiksliai, kad iš bet kurios prižiūrėtojo vietos būtų matomas visų celių plotas ir jose įkalintieji. Visi vienučių erdvės vienetai turėjo būti gerai įžiūrimi, jose negalėjo būti tokio kampo, į kurį nepatektų šviesa ir kuriame kalinys galėtų pasislėpti. Žiedinio pastato ir stebėjimo bokšto erdviniai santykiai turėjo užtikrinti tokį nuolatinį prižiūrėtojo matymą, kad kaliniai iš savo kamerų negalėtų žinoti, kada jie stebimi, o kada ne. Panoptikono projektas vadinamas idealaus kalėjimo prototipu dėl fenomenalaus stebėjimo proceso, nes prižiūrėtojui net ir nebūnant bokšte žmogus nuolat yra stebimas dėl pačios priežiūros galimybės. Prižiūrėtojas gali „tupėti“, bet gali ir „netupėti“ savo bokštelyje, tačiau prižiūrimasis suvokia, kad bet kurią akimirką jis gali būti stebimas. Vadinasi, priežiūros šaltiniu tampa ne prižiūrėtojas, o pats prižiūrimasis, kuris nuolatos verčiamas galvoti apie pačią priežiūros galimybę. Būdamas absoliutaus matymo lauke, prižiūrimasis nuolatos susiduria su stebėjimo bokšto reprezentacija, su nematomu prižiūrėtoju, ir tai žinodamas individas imasi prievartos prieš save patį. Beje, turbūt supratote, kad įgyvendinus tokį tobulo kalėjimo modelį prasmę praranda bet kokia prievartos mašinerija – grotos, grandinės ir spynos. Idealu.
Albumo koncepcijai papildyti, kaip įkvėpimo šaltinis ir post-modernios visuomenės neigiamų pusių pateikimui dar buvo paimti už pavyzdį Evgenijaus Zamiatino antiutopija "Mes" (pirmą kartą sutrumpinta versija buvo išleista 1927 m., ir sulaukė vietinių komunistų pykčio, bet prasiveržė į užsienį ir padarė įtaką A. Haksliui ir D. Orvelui) ir lenkų rašytojo, filosofo tapytojo Stanislavo Vitkievič 1930 m. pirmą kartą išleista novelė "Nepasotinamumas" (2000-ieji. Lenkiją užvaldė mongolų orda. Tautą kontroliuoja kinų lyderis Murti Bing. Jo pakalikai kiekvienam duoda tabletę "DAVAMESK B 2", kuri palaužia žmogaus valią ir kritinį mąstymą. Rytai ir Vakar susijungia į vieną branduolį, kurį maitina seksualiniai poreikiai.).
Sveikintinas pasirinkimas albumo koncepcijai ir tai lieka geriausia, kas susiję su šiuo įrašu. Kaip ir pirmo darbo, taip ir šio viršeliai yra ganėtinai neskoningi ir nesinori impulsyviai griebti CD į savo rankas. Muziką jau nebepriskirčiau juodmetaliui, ji artimesnė dark metal ir siaubo filmų garso takelių junginiui. Tarsi tolimas Arcturus albumo "La Masquerade Infernale" aidas, bet tamsesnis ir lėtesnis. Visame albume muzikinį pamatą sudaro vargonai, o visa kita tik malonus priedas. Drįsčiau pavadinti tokį stilių "organon metal". Rasta ganėtinai nebloga pusiausvyra tarp metalo muzikos ir klasikinės muzikos. Tai nėra naujas bandymas, nes juk iki šiol būdavo gausybę įrašų su įvairiais simfoniniais orkestrais, grupės įliedavo klasikinės muzikos "semplų", o savo klavišiniuose nustatydavo vargonų skambesio funkciją. Šis Lychgate albume anksčiau ar vėliau bus įrašytas į muzikos enciklopedijas, nes taip rimtai maža kas bandė suvienyti vargonų muziką su metaline. Kadangi albumas konceptualus, tai reikia nusiteikimo ir kantrybės norint jį perklausyti. Nenustebčiau, kad kai kuriuos žmonės jis galėtų užmigdyti.
Written by Rolandas.
Rozohněná avantgarda Lychgate se po dvou letech vrací s novým pokračováním svého vznešeného pojetí black metalu. Greg Chandler a jeho věrní opět sestoupili do londýnského divadla, kam už běžní návštěvníci nepáchnou a normální jedinec má problémy jen projít kolem. Budova je už léta zavřená, dávný požár smetl její umělecké hodnoty. Přesto se její podzemní místnosti s oponou k něčemu hodí. Jsou to právě Lychgate, kteří tudy schází po schodech, náruživě komponují, živě gestikulují a přednášejí zde svůj aristokratický black metal.
Z hudby Lychgate jde snaha o jiný náhled, kdy je fascinace nedůvěrou v lepší zítřky prostoupena ponorem ve vlastní tmu a důrazem na majestátnost. Každý jsme tak velcí, jak nám rozum dovolí. Lychgate zprvu budí dojem, že se jen naparují a "skutek utek", ale jejich odkaz je přeci jen hlubší. Jejich hudba, to je přerušovaný tok filosofického přednesu zhýralých blackmetalových představ a pohnutek přetavený v neobvyklé kompozice, kde nehrají prim kytary a lesní špína včelínů. Na prvním místě je vznešenost a její temná recitace. A varhany! Muž s maskou se ukloní a jeho úkolem je nechat posluchače v němém úžasu, protože jeho atypický přednes by měl šokovat a nad jeho skrytým obličejem je nutné neustále dumat a mimicky vysílat nechápavé dotazy plné nejistoty. Popřípadě rovnou přehrávat šílenství a okatě se svíjet ve VIP salónku. Možná to tak mají Lychgate rádi a taky je dost možné, že je to vůbec nezajímá...
Evidentně se ovšem snaží posunout černý kov nad rámec jeho běžných hodnot. Tak, jako se to už v minulosti pár vyvolených pokusilo a několik z nich to i dokázalo. Své zahleděnosti navzdory, doopravdy ale právě díky ní. Lychgate a jejich prazvláštní přístup k extrémní muzice její podstatu změní jen sotva a na vyšší vnímání ji jako celek také neposunou. Jsou ovšem schopni ji na chvíli vykolejit a nechat pokračovat mimo zajetou trasu. Vděčí za to svojské práci s kompozicí, uvnitř které je kladen důraz na vznešenost v kombinaci s divokou psychedelií a okultním podtextem. Mise Lychgate je temnou filosofií, zvláštní a rafinovanou. Pokud se podaří nahlédnout pod její podivínskou strukturu, kde vládne svět za maskou, bude vám hudba této kapely připadat honosná a zajímavá. V opačném případě vás ale při nahodilých pokusech ovládne nepochopení, zmatek a nedůvěra.
Sestavu Lychgate opustil basák Aran, jinak ex-člen dnes již legendárních lesníků Lunar Aurora. Nahradil jej novic A.K. Webb a osobně mne tahle skutečnost může mrzet jenom proto, že sílu Lunar Aurora jsem vždy uctíval a kapely, které si prošel Webb, vůbec neznám. Na funkci zaníceně filosofující jednotky Lychgate nemá ale tahle změna takřka žádný dopad. Druhá deska pokračuje v avantgardně servírované jízdě, při které si člověk sáhne na dno svých psychických sil, aby se na realitu podíval trochu z jiné stránky. Nedá se říci, že by poslech druhého alba Lychgate bolel a způsoboval by přilíšnou újmu na zdraví, ale jeho úloha je speciální a žádá si svůj speciální okamžik. Kapela posouvá své hranice ještě o kus dále a láká k obdivu specificky pojaté hudby. V prostředí jaké nabízí, je člověk odnesen zpět v čase, uvědomuje si hodnotu starých věcí a dotýká se termínů jako jsou jed, vášeň či rituál. Slyší staré nástěnné hodiny, slyší promlouvat duchy skrze zdi a některé i vidí. Je vystaven zámecké atmosféře a tajným schůzkám místní šlechty, v zájmu pokroku a černé magie.
Hudbu samotnou řídí varhany a jejich široký rejstřík. Kytary jsou pouhým doprovodem a hlas je přednášejícím ve vylidněném sále. Podstatné to pojmenování tvorby Lychgate, ale zopakujme si ještě jednou to nejdůležitější. Lychgate nemění dějiny, ale jsou schopni je nechat prožít. Nejsou těmi, kdo posune hranice žánru, ale jsou těmi, kdo na ně poukáže. Přes všechnu domnělou nesourodost a hroší kůži je "An Antidote For The Glass Pills" povedenou deskou, ke které je jen nutné najít správný klíč.
Written by Victimer.
“I could mention countless superlatives but what it all comes down to is the wide-angle approach to their music, the playful creativity that propels this album towards upper echelons of art.”
Approaching six months now and this album still gets played a lot by yours truly. There’s a reason why Lychgate’s latest output was my favorite album in 2015 (read short summary here). I could mention countless superlatives (and I will later on) but what it all comes down to is the wide-angle approach to their music, the playful creativity that propels this album towards upper echelons of art.
The band is based in London and is the artistic outlet for the pseudonym Vortigern, a philosophical figure wielding dramatic musical creativity and dystopian lyrical concepts. “An Antidote For The Glass Pill” is the second album for this abstract formation; whereas the debut album was based on pre-Lychgate material, this one goes all out in establishing a classy sound universe.
What’s the method to all this mayhem then you might ask? Black Metal fused with classical music, experimental soundscapes recalling old cinema atmospheres, intricate percussive sections, smart, devilishly smart usage of pipe organs, dexterous guitar work and vocal layering sounding like the next pest that’s going to wipe out humanity. Emperor’s last album, an album which I’ve gone back to exploring after hearing this one, is a clear reference point musically, Dødheimsgard, Solefald, Manes, Ulver also spring to mind.
The album has a continuous flow because of its conceptual nature. Due to the avant-garde techniques at work, it might sound disjointed at first but the more I listened to it, the more it all came together into a fantastic piece of visionary songwriting. “I Am Contempt” is the closest you’ll hear of “traditional” song structures, the rest of the material will take more than just one spin to unravel. The drumming needs to be highlighted, this guy is outrageous doing delicate jazzy fills, foreboding percussive arrangements (a significant element to the album) and of course the more familiar extreme blasts, an aspiring performance to say the least.
The pipe organs are another eccentric ingredient to this work. They’re put to use in a canny manner into each track. There are passages when the organs are intensely heavy and other times they’ll be melodic in some oddball fashion. The guitar work is greatly complemented by the pianos and organs; the intricate dissonances created in for example “An Acousmatic Guardian” or “ A Principle On Seclusion” are displays of musical genius in my opinion. My current favorite track is “Deus Te Videt”, a track rooted in the complexity of classical music; combined with extreme metal, a beautiful cacophony is let loose immediately triggering Arcturus associations (also due to the clean vocals).
To end this review, I’d recommend this album to all the thinkers out there. “An Antidote For The Glass Pill” sounds like freaked out philosophers coming together and having a profound chat about wisdom, addressing the state of logic, ethics, etc and eventually being even more puzzled at the end of the session. Outstanding album altogether!
Written by Fróði Tórálvsson Stenberg.
I think it goes without saying that it is difficult to remain completely impartial when something really exceptional makes a profound musical impact on you. And it is not quite appropriate to start a review with praises before thoroughly delving into an unbiased analysis of the work, but there are more than enough reasons that make “An Antidote for the Glass Pill” an outstanding work of art.
Lychgate is a name that is relatively well known within the underground Metal community by now mostly due to the fact that Greg Chandler of Esoteric performs vocal duties here (this how I came to know this enigmatic collective). Sloughed from the shell of Archaicus, which was the obscure solo project of Vortigern, Lychgate quickly became a fully consistent band with a new and fresh direction. The self-titled debut album was a pleasant discovery. It had melodic passages somewhat reminiscent of Setherial “Nord” era, it also had something of its own. It was varied, dynamic, but not quite something that would stand out from the rest of the crowd very much. However, there were some elements that barely hinted the things to come, but few could have guessed that the following work would reach a completely different level and surpass its predecessor by an enormous measure. Lychgate achieved a monumental album of a complex yet very organic fusion between real church organ and Metal, something to the extent that hasn’t been done before in this form of extreme music. Guitars and organ are blended in such a way that it results in a completely unique sound texture you wouldn’t hear from anyone else on this planet. Greg’s trademark vocal style doesn’t stretch too far from those of Esoteric and are occasionally accompanied by Vortigern, who, I believe, is responsible for the clean singing parts as well. The production perfectly complements the music and enthrals the listener with its heavy-gothic-cathedral like aura. The atmosphere is haunting, oppressive and disorienting. Dark in a genuine way though there is nothing occult or satanic about it (which is a plausible move given current worn-out tendencies). Instead this magnum opus is centred around the theme of “Panopticon”, an idea of a perfect prison, a pinnacle of dystopian society. This aspect curiously interacts with Lychgate’s music implying unusual interpretations and is yet another asset of true individualism here.
“An Antidote for the Glass Pill” is a rare album of academic proportions and I wouldn’t speak of it as anything less than an unparalleled colossus of musical proficiency. It is intricate, demanding and seems a bit too challenging to approach at times, but truly rewarding for those seeking beyond easily accessible and safe music. I honestly cannot pinpoint any negative or underdeveloped aspects here. It just shines with perfection and menace. Personally the most interesting and accomplished album of 2015.
Written by Saulius (Skol).
UK black metal oddities Lychgate are bubbling up from London cobblestones today with their second twisted full length, An Antidote For The Glass Pill (Blood Music). Laced with chilling organ flourishes that could score a silent film about Jack the Ripper, Lychgate pinball from blackened blast beats to serial killer symphonies within the space of a measure or two, stitching it all together with the howls of funeral doom figurehead and Esoteric frontman, Greg Chandler. You might need more than a listen or two for this one to land, but trust me, once it does it’ll send your head bouncing off the down the block.
Written by Coleman Bentley.
Lychgate avait fait bonne impression en 2013 avec son premier album mélangeant le black horrifique et le doom d'une façon bien à lui. A peine deux ans plus tard, voilà que le groupe revient à la charge avec "An Antidote For The Glass Pill" et les amateurs du premier opus devraient vite retrouver leurs marques.
En effet, "Unto My Tempest" qui ouvre l'album nous rebalance directement dans l'univers bien particulier de Lychgate à grands coups d'orgue et d'ambiance horrifiques et poisseuses, un instrumental qui annonce la couleur d'entrée de jeu une fois de plus. "Davamesque B2" présente en plus de tout ça un côté un peu plus dramatique, orchestral et une certaine folie qui nous ramène un peu vers Esoteric forcément avec le chant reconnaissable entre mille de Greg Chandler. La folie est d'ailleurs encore plus présente sur ce nouvel album que sur le précédent, cette fois Lychgate se lache et pète réellement les plombs. Les structures sont encore plus tordues, tous les morceaux sont à tiroirs et le groupe prend un malin plaisir à essayer de nous perdre dans un dédale de mélodies malsaines et de rythmes bizarres, le tout surplombé de nappes d'orgue totalement glauques ou barrées. De temps en temps, les blasts s'invitent encore par dessus tout ce bordel, ce qui n'arrangera rien à la santé mentale du malheureux qui aura laissé traîner ses oreilles par là. D'ailleurs, par rapport au premier album, le groupe prend le temps d'installer ses ambiances comme il faut, on passe donc de 38 à 50 minutes. Lychgate applique ici la formule Monsieur Plus, à savoir un album plus barré, plus dingue, plus malsain, bref encore plus flippant et tordu.
Une fois de plus, cet album va donc s'adresser aux esprits les plus ouverts, le groupe ne respecte aucune convention (est-ce réellement étonnant ?) et va là où il veut, à l'auditeur de faire ce qu'il peut pour essayer de le suivre. Et forcément, techniquement, c'est assez hallucinant, notamment au niveau du jeu de batterie de T.J.F. Vallely que je vous invite à écouter attentivement tant il est à la fois technique et fin.
Et finalement, malgré la durée bien plus longue que pour le premier album, on ne s'ennuie pas une seule seconde, la musique de Lychgate étant assez variée et tarée pour nous tenir en haleine tout du long. En tout cas, c'est toujours compliqué de parler d'une musique pareille sans tomber dans les délires verbeux et pseudo littéraires, ce genre d'album demandant un investissement personnel de la part de l'auditeur.
Je vais tomber dans la facilité en disant que ceux qui ont aimé le premier album retrouveront leurs petits ici, pour ceux qui n'ont par contre jamais entendu une seule note de ce groupe, je ne peux que leur conseiller d'aller remédier à ça de suite. Pour le coup, ça fait un peu "chroniqueur qui se défile" mais il faut vraiment écouter ça pour savoir de quoi il en retourne, mes mots ne pourront vous donner qu'une vague idée de ce qui vous attend dans ce joyeux bordel (enfin, "joyeux", je me comprends).
Au final, un deuxième album qui confirme que Lychgate est un groupe à part, qui en profite au passage pour s'enfoncer encore plus loin dans les ténèbres et la folie. Âmes sensibles s'abstenir, les autres vont se régaler.
Written by MurderWorks.
Put This New LYCHGATE Album In Your Ears
I’ve been aware of the United Kingdom’s Lychgate since their 2013 self-titled debut. By “aware of,” I mean I knew the band existed. I’d never actually listened to them despite receiving promos for their first album as well as their sophomore release, An Antidote for the Glass Pill, that was just released. I can’t speak to the band’s first album, but Lychgate have really stumbled onto something special with An Antidote. On a whim, I decided to listen to it as I cleaned the bathroom last night, and it’s a genuinely unsettling record that I’ll definitely be revisiting many more times. The songs are organ driven. Like, an actual organ, not a keyboard that sounds like an organ. There are guitars present, but it seems like the songs were all written with the organ as the primary instrument. Prospective listeners will also be happy to know that “organ-driven” doesn’t mean clown-ass circus music in this case, either. I was blasting this album over headphones while I scrubbed a toilet, and there were sections of the music that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. This is a good album, y’all.
FFO: The nameless, crawling chaos at the center of the universe.
Written by Shayne Mathis.
“Uncanny Valley” is a phrase originally coined in the field of aesthetics to describe the feeling of revulsion caused by things which look and move almost but not exactly like natural beings, but has since been used to describe anything which familiar but different enough to be unsettling, creepy and… well… uncanny. The easiest way to describe Lychgate’s second album would be a combination of Symphonic Black Metal and Funeral Doom, but though that’s technically true fans of those two genres are likely to be a little creeped out by Lychgate’s approach to both.
One of the most audible ways in which Lychgate stand out is their use of keys, especially the near-omnipresent Church Organ. Nothing new itself, of course, but rather than simply garnishing riffs or creating “atmospheric” space-filler, Lychgate frequently use their organ (tee hee) as a lead instrument, creating a genuinely unsettling sense of otherness in those used to more conventional Metal songwriting. The production lends further weight to this impression, the guitars taking on a cold, clipped feeling that times calls to mind old Castlevania soundtracks.
Both of these things would be irrelevant, of course, without the song-writing to back them up, and Lychgate continue to buck both Black Metal and Doom orthodoxy with broken, nightmarish compositions that draw as much from Prog and psychedelia as from any Metal sub-genre. Greg Chandler (also of Esoteric) uses his distinctively damaged-sounding vocals to lend further emotional weight to an alternately bombastic and ghostly selection of songs.
This is Black Metal for people who like the idea of Black Metal more than the reality. Doom for people who want to go beyond stolen Sabbath riffs and feedback. Prog Metal for people who wish the term didn’t have anything to do with Opeth. Simultaneously familiar and genuinely unusual, An Antidote For The Glass Pill (Blood Music) is likely to be one of the most interesting and distinctive releases in three over-saturated genres this year.
Written by Richie HR.
If there were ever an album that used a piano and organ to an amazing extent while combining it with black metal very well while also maintaining an interesting atmosphere and feel for it’s entirety, this is that album. “An Antidote for the Glass Pill” from Lychgate is an excellent sophomore album that has a haunting sound to say in the least as this album contains a piano and organ like I said, and they are used to their absolute maximum potential as they create an unsettling feel no matter where in the album they are while also bringing in a unique sound that isn’t pair often with black metal.
The whole album isn’t at a break neck pace either as Lychgate knows the virtue of knowing when to slow down and really create an atmosphere that cannot be made when everything is violent and fast. There’s nothing wrong with being slow and terrifying, nothing at all, and “An Antidote for the Glass Pill” makes it look easy. The guitars, vocals, and drums all also have a magnificent sound that varies from being fast and intense to a more calm and eerie sound (hopefully you’re noticing a pattern here). “An Antidote for the Glass Pill” is without a doubt the album for someone who wants an atmospheric album that isn’t too overbearing with the atmosphere while also having a nice balance of black metal. Lychgate is only getting started I’m sure, and I can only imagine what they’ll do with their third album.
Whether you have heard the name Lychgate or heard their solid 2013 self-titled debut before (which is indeed very likely as it was the last album that I reviewed), I have no doubt that the coming months will see the extreme metal community gurgle with joy aplenty at the release of their second album, An Antidote for the Glass Pill. This album is an unlikely masterpiece, and I might have to look as far back as last year for an album that has chilled, spooked, and otherwise frightened me as much as this one. While I think that Thantifaxath‘s Sacred White Noise would perhaps be a good candidate, fear from a presumably ‘harmless’ medium like music can only be felt when a listener is experiencing something unfamiliar to them. That sense of confusion is the calling card of the avant-garde, and to meld that confusion with inherently dark styles like black or doom metal is to effectively weaponize it. I am no less provoked each time I listen to An Antidote for the Glass Pill. Lychgate have crafted a completely immersive experience with their second album, boldly realizing the vision they set out for themselves, with the substance to temper its madness and no cheap tricks used to satisfy their ends.
Though previously a one-man act known as Archaicus, the story of Lychgate didn’t start until the release of their self-titled full-length in 2013. Multi-instrumentalist Vortigern was joined by a host of well-travelled musicians, best known of all arguably being Greg Chandler, known for his resonant howls in the legendary Esoteric. While Lychgate is marketed foremost as a black metal band, the influence and association with (arguably) funeral doom’s most astounding monument informed the way the band carried their atmosphere on the debut, which otherwise tended to carry itself in a melodic (albeit extreme) light that was vaguely reminiscent of Dissection. While I really enjoyed what Lychgate did on their debut, my lasting impression was that they hadn’t yet realized their destined style, choosing instead to imply it via the smoke and mirrors of other less outlandish black metal bands that inspired them.
An Antidote for the Glass Pill takes the unique threads that were hinted at on the debut and have realized them completely. Lychgate’s style here is full-bodied and imposing; such as it is, it makes the excellent debut look underdeveloped in contrast. Lychgate’s teetering between black and doom metal has collapsed in favour of the latter. Much like Esoteric, they convey the unmistakable atmosphere of funeral doom at a variety of tempos. The discussion of genre in metal describes none but the most generic bands, but this confusion between two styles that aren’t commonly mixed should offer a vague indication, at least, that Lychgate are onto something strange if not unique with their style.
Undoubtedly, the most distinctive ingredient to Lychgate’s sound is their use of organ. Church pipes are a common sight in avant-garde metal, but I don’t think I’ve heard them take such a heavy role on a metal album before. On its own, it is possibly the most imposing instrument in the Western musical arsenal, and Lychgate make full use of this potential. Where most use of keyboards in metal is relegated to the role of auxiliary support, Lychgate’s organs are vast and thunderous, truly befitting the scope of classical composers, without necessarily drawing so close to any one of them as to betray the influence. Although the full extent of Lychgate’s atmosphere is only apparent after giving the album due patience, the effect of the organ is thick and immediate. There is an unprecedented weight to one’s music when you have centuries of musical tradition bellowing alongside you, and the organ’s ecclesiastical connotations mesh well, if hauntingly, with the band’s tormented atmosphere. If ever a portal to hell opens up amidst the pews of St Paul’s Cathedral, it’s a relief we’ll already have the perfect soundtrack ready for the occasion.
Lychgate’s penchant for the organ may have even pinned them as a gimmick had they not channelled that same uncompromising innovation into every other part of their style. The guitar riffs are equal parts playful and disquieting, and the way that they constantly tempt abstraction compliments the historic familiarity of the organs. One of the weirdest, most potentially divisive things about the album is actually the tone of the guitars. Although everything is played relatively ‘live’, it’s as if Lychgate went through the extra trouble of making their guitars share the cold voice of a MIDI file. This isn’t the sort of detail I noticed until a few listens in, after the indulgent organ display had grown familiar. There is an inhumanity to the way Lychgate’s guitars sound that makes one feel immediately uncomfortable, as if the ‘uncanny valley’ reaction towards androids or ‘fake humans’ may now apply to a musical instrument as well. This MIDI sound, paired with the unsettling horror-inspired atmosphere, actually had me thinking of classic 8-bit video game soundtracks more than once, namely the spooky sounds of Castlevania. Whether this was an intentional association or not, it adds even greater alien novelty to their sound, and Lychgate seem to enjoy the compositional chops that will allow that novelty to last for a long time. The way Blut Aus Nord took the drum machine from a budgetary setback to an integral artistic statement, I believe Lychgate have done the same for this weird guitar tone.
Greg Chandler’s howls are immediately distinctive, and all existing Esoteric fans will find a shred of welcome familiarity among this project’s more alien prospects. Clean vocals also make an appearance here, albeit occasionally, and sound reminiscent of other avant-metal like Age of Silence and Solefald. Lychgate’s vocals (clean and growled alike) are buried slightly below the mix, which means the human element bears little chance of tampering with their conjured insanity. It’s to Chandler’s credit, then, that his vocals, however quiet, manage to send chills down my spine throughout the album. Looking at the lyrics doesn’t bring one any closer to comfort. These lyrics are filled with expressionist imagery and mentions of obscure apocrypha. Whether there is a clear meaning to be taken from all of it is beside the point; most of the time, it reads like the chattering of a bona fide madman, caught in thought loops without resolution or development. Is there sense to be made of it? Cryptic mentions of a ‘We’ and ‘OneState’ hints their madness may be rooted in the individual’s struggle to distinguish himself from the collective, but interpretations will vary. The folly of insanity is that whatever revelations that are gleaned from such an uncommon frame of mind are made intangible through their lack of clarity. It’s conceivable that all minds behind Lychgate were in perfectly sound order while making the album, but the fact that they can liberate themselves from a need for proper meaning offers an opportunity for the listener’s mind to project their own neuroses upon it.
An Antidote for the Glass Pill should spark some controversy in the coming months, and I’d like to think it’ll become an album that only grows in reputation as time goes on. Lychgate have crafted a work of expressionist horror in the fleeting space where matters of genre become clouded and irrelevant. If I may leave any parting words on it, it’s that the album takes some time to grow, even for the most attentive set of ears. Where many overly frightening or avant-garde works get their point across in bold, loud ways, Lychgate’s dread grows with each listen. If they started out as a promising black metal band. they’ve now become the sort of act capable of crafting masterpieces in none but their own image.
Written by Conor Fynes.
Man muss sich für die Behauptung wohl nicht allzuweit aus dem Fenster lehnen: Kaum eine andere Platte (ob nun aus der Metal-Schublade oder nicht) entwickelte einen derart verschrobenen, eigenwilligen Charakter wie ‚An Antidote for the Glass Pill‚. Sofern das überhaupt noch Black Metal ist, den die Engländer da zwischen Aventgarde und mutwilliger Dissonanz auf ihrem Zweitwerk zelebrieren, dann entwickelt er alleine dadurch ein absolutes Alleinstellungsmerkmal, weil Lychgate die theoretische Geschwindigkeit des Genres auf eine omnipräsente Orgel prallen lassen, mehr noch – das an sich sich so träge-schleppende Element das dem Instrument innewohnen kann vom ausgebreiteten Begleitutensil wird hier immer wieder zum Leitsymbol auserkoren. Das Ergebnis ist ein bisweilen nervöses, extrem mystisches und schlicht unergründlich vielschichtig hetzendes Ungetüm, das mittels anachronistischer Retro-Horrorszenarien eine eine wirklich beängstigende, verstörende und auch wahrhaftig anstrengende Bösartigkeit Dunkelheit walzt.
Der Entwicklungsschub der Band seit dem selbstbetitelten Debüt ist vielleicht damit zu erklären, dass neben der Kernbesetzung um Mastermind Vortigern nun unter anderem auch Esoteric-Zauberer Greg Chandler bei Lychgate mitmischt – und wie man Legendenbildung in der Nische betreibt, das weiß der 42 Jährige bekanntlich nur zu gut. Aber eben auch, wie man überragende Platten kreiert, die die Geister scheiden können, weil sie an keinerlei Konsens oder Konventionen interessiert sind.
Having only officially come into life in 2012, Lychgate are fast making a name for themselves as one of the most cerebral bands to emerge from the avant garde arm of the extreme metal scene. The band – which features a host of well-travelled veterans from acts such as Esoteric, The One, Macabre Omen, Luna Aurora, and Omega Centauri – distil a diverse range of styles and influences into a richly layered assault of decadence and malevolence. Melodic elements reminiscent of the likes of Dissection intersperse a primarily gothic-tinged black metal framework that draws on the likes of Emperor and Abigor while the dense dark atmosphere of funeral doom acts like Esoteric create a thick shroud around it.
The album ties each track together with the grandiose use of the pipe organ. Now this is something that can set alarm bells off due to the fact that there have been many acts that have used it poorly and relegated it to the cheesy gothic end of the spectrum. However, in the hands of Lychgate it takes on its full glory and is a perfect addition to the band's rich sound.
Songs such as 'Davamesque B2', 'I Am Contempt', 'Letter XIX', 'An Acousmatic Guardian', and 'My Fate To Burn Forever' show of the band's full glory as the avant garde song structures unveil blistering black metal, demonic vocals, and sumptuous melodies all in the same breath. The song writing is complex and intelligent, and the execution of each song is carried off with ease and grace.
In terms of the production, it is true that the album is dense, multi-layered, and full of little flourishes and embellishments. And while in the hands of less experienced musicians, the album would run the risk of sounding like a thick slab, Lychgate have instead kept the sense of space and distance between all the elements in the mix that are required to give it that cathedral like presence.
'An Antidote For The Glass Pill' is quite simply a must-have album for anyone that is a fan of acts such as Emperor, Ihsahn, Dimmu Borgir, Arcturus, and Esoteric, as well as anyone with a leaning towards avant garde metal. The album is a wonderfully thick and atmospheric, while at the same time unrelentingly brutal. Lychgate are definitely a name to watch if they can keep on creating masterpieces like this.
Written by Sean F. Palfrey.
I can’t really say a metal album has piqued my musician’s interest quite like Lychgate’s An Antidote for The Glass Pill. I often approach metal which touts modern classical music as a primary influence with hesitance, the two often clashing in a circus of distasteful discordance and sounds reminiscent of John Wayne Gacy’s alter-ego, the frightening “Pogo the Clown,” and yet Lychgate’s powerful, intricate sound proves that i should behave otherwise. Like a metal counterpart to Olivier Messiaen’s “La Nativeté du Seigneur“, Lychgate’s pipe organ-centric (an ambitious addition to any band), carefully composed approach to metal engulfs the listener with a constant barrage of simultaneous beauty and fear, extreme polytonality, and bizarre, jarring rhythmic twists and turns in an undoubtedly overwhelming, hard to digest experience. I would have written An Antidote for the Glass Pill off as masturbatory drivel had I not been so completely enamored with compositional mastermind Vortigern’s tasteful arrangement of sound. Don’t get me wrong, Lychgate’s is a difficult listen, especially to those who preferred the much tamer, organum-based sound of their self-titled album, however, once it “clicks”—and it might take time for this to happen—An Antidote… will become a regular listen in most libraries. This is a true turning point in new extreme music.
Written by Jon Rosenthal.
Le collectif anglais Lychgate sort son deuxième album An Antidote for the Glass Pill via le label Blood Music. Le lineup est ainsi composé: Greg Chandler (Esoteric) au chant et aux guitares, Alan K. Webb (Ancient Ascendant), Tom J.F. Vallely (Macabre Omen, Omega Centauri) et James « Vortigern » Young (The One).
Grosse intro, ambiance manoir et piano à l’étage mais personne n’ose monter les escaliers. A priori on n’est pas tout seul, les cloches au loin finissent par s’arrêter, perdues dans le brouillard anglais. Ainsi, dès les premières notes on s’imagine trouver un énième groupe de gothique vampiro metal mais on se rend rapidement compte que l’on a tord sur toute la ligne.
La musique est très organique, la voix gutturale, les synthés donnent le rythme. La musique de Lychgate est assez particulière, leur black metal se place entre l’ambiant et le post symphonique comme sur « Davamesque B2 » très orchestré.
Les synthés s’amusent sur « I Am Contempt » : musique difficilement classable tout comme la pochette, on a l’impression que chaque instrument fait sont business dans son coin sans vraiment se concerter avec les autres quant à savoir la direction à donner au morceau. Bon dans ces moments perdus, on va dire que c’est de l’avant-gardiste gothic symphonique, théatral et bruitiste.
La production tient bien la route. Heureusement car ce n’est pas une œuvre dans laquelle on rentre facilement. Changement de rythme, synthé omniprésent, voix pesante.
« Letter XIX » aussi a encore cette couleur particulière grâce à l’utilisation massive des orgues, passages majestueux, inquiétants, les guitares tiennent les seconds rôles. Nous sommes plus dans une œuvre structurée comme dans la musique classique, tourmentée, à part, avec un œil moderne.
« The Illness Named Imagination » me fait penser à des passages de Pierre Boulez en train de nous interpréter Béla Bartók sous acide dans la cave d’un hôpital psychiatrique désaffecté mais tout comme le compositeur et pianiste hongrois, « le mouvement mélodique », « le traitement sonore » et surtout « l’harmonie » ont leur importance et sont mis aux premiers rangs dans la genèse des morceaux.
Les titres ont l’air d’être structurer afin d’établir tout comme chez Bartók des rapports structurés et millimétrés pour équilibrer chaque partie de l’album. Tout en restant sur une idée de base, jouant sur toutes les tonalités via leur fonction (Tonique, Dominante ou Sous-dominante) les musiciens nous perturbent dans leurs recherches harmoniques comme savent le faire certains jazzmen.
An Antidote for the Glass Pill est une œuvre inclassable, moderne, déconcertante et stricte.
Written by Lionel / Born 666.
London’s Lychgate burst onto the black metal landscape in 2013 with their self-titled debut. It was a wild and fully-realized platter of dissonant weirdness that loved its keyboards and organs, but never to the extent that they got in the way of the heavily funeralized black metal. Even with some rather obvious connections – Negative Plane, certain forms of Blut Aus Nord – it was still fairly unique. It felt like being suddenly transported into an empty, dimly lit gothic cathedral, the music dominating all sounds, but not to the extent that your own fear was silenced.
From the very get-go, Lychgate knew how to craft a vibe. But if the expansion of their sound on An Antidote for the Glass Pill is any indication, sitting still was not an option. They knew their rabbit hole went far deeper, and that reaching the bottom required unchaining themselves from any remaining constraints. It was time to really get weird.
And weird they get. By increasing the use of the organ, going with less conventional song structures, upping the prog factor of the riffs, and pounding the album with all sorts of extra ingredients (tympani, chamber piano, chants), Lychgate has almost completely exited the realm of the ordinary. To put it simply, An Antidote for the Glass Pill is utterly confounding, but to the right ears, it is just as thrilling. It is an album for which it is difficult to think of a true stylistic parallel, both in terms of philosophy and execution, despite many of the individual elements existing for centuries.
But let’s step back for a second.
The pipe organ has existed in some form or another since Ancient Greece, evolving into instruments so gargantuan that they were the perfect backdrops for the megalomaniacal medieval church. The sound is unmistakable: thin, sustained tones, particularly useful for dissonance, and when employed to ultimate effect, imposing. This was the instrument of medieval priests forcing piety onto the peasantry, of the crusades being funded by selling plenary indulgences as tickets to heaven, and of course, of “Toccata and Fugue in D minor.”
Perhaps only Bach could have ever imagined that the instrument of his most famous work would be warped into something as unworldly as An Antidote for the Glass Pill. And more than any other of the numerous elements employed by Lychgate on the album, it is the pipe organ that dominates center stage, wrapping the album in a Baroque blanket. Without it, the drifting, maniacal song structures would seem needlessly random, while the moments of rather rocking guitar work would seem just that – rocking – as opposed being brief flashes of normality desperately calling out of the madness.
(It should go without saying that Lychgate probably isn’t transporting around some fully-sized, massive pipe organ, and that the sounds heard on An Antidote for the Glass Pill are likely produced by its more modern “church organ” offspring. Still, the sounds and vibe are the same, thankfully.)
In many ways, Lychgate has fully realized the “musical Baphomet” status to which their debut album pointed. An Antidote for the Glass Pill is both god and the devil; melodious and deeply discordant; lacking in aggression but strangely brutal; dramatic and theatrical and yet deadly serious; occasionally rockin’ but completely in opposition to such a mindset. Throughout all 50 minutes, these various dualities are at work, with each spin peeling away more of the countless layers.
“I Am Contempt” expands and contracts through both tonal techniques and masterful drumming (T. J. F. Vallely is a beast throughout), while moments of “still dissonance” are among the album’s most unsettling. “Letter XIX” is downright demented, becoming more so throughout before bludgeoning the listener with a unified hammering from all instruments, even after the jazzy, light-touch blasting eases you into a false sense of security. “Davamesque B2” re-emphasizes the band’s oft-doomy approach; “An Acousmatic Guardian” ups the bombast; “The Pinnacle Known to Sisyphus” ends the album in majestic splendor, echoing chants introduced in earlier tracks while offering touches of neoclassicism. This is a band that understands how to be outlandish by their very nature, and how to wield self-indulgence as a musical instrument.
Like vocalist/guitarist Greg Chandler’s long-running Esoteric, Lychgate also embraces the power of atmosphere. But where the funeral doom greats craft galactic spaces that go on for immeasurable distances, Lychgate’s atmosphere is finite, draped in an impenetrable shadow and amplified by the band’s mastery of the (near) emptiness. In a way similar to Deathspell Omega on Fas, Lychgate does not shy from this technique (“Play the rest,” your high school band director taught you). These moments are not so much respites from the maniacal bombardment as they are the band chewing on the suspense, and knowing the listener is held captive.
And deep down, when you are done dissecting all of the great riffs, surprise shred moments, deftly dancing instrumental interplay and great, varied vocals, something else kicks in: nostalgia. Not obnoxious, try-hard nostalgia, but a more indirect, likely even unintentional form. The tones and vibes throughout An Antidote for the Glass Pill will inevitably tickle the memories of certain listeners. The pipe organ is, after all, rather connected to the past in many ways. It might be that you’d once seen an old silent horror film, or that you once attended a Catholic Mass in a rather large, lavish American church. Maybe you just like wearing long robes and writing fan fiction about Vincent Price and Max von Sydow; that’s your business. Regardless, for many a listener, that extra layer will be quite active.
Of course, you don’t necessarily need to have had these experiences to enjoy the album. Nor do they ensure that you will like this bizarre, amorphous thing. But if it latches on in any way, it’s really a rather easy listen, even during its most jarring moments. That dichotomy might be what most defines the album: from its general lack of violent aggression to the odd song structures, An Antidote for the Glass Pill is usually not doing what you expect or even what you might think you want it to do. And yet, the whole thing is insanely satisfying, which is almost a mystery in and of itself.
Confounding in every possible way, Lychgate is not satisfied with merely finding the bottom of the rabbit hole. They came equipped with shovels.
If you're feeling churchy, the album is streaming in full at Decibel.
Written by Zach Duvall.
Lychgate na druhé desce předvádí velmi suverénní, působivý a celkem osobitý pohled na sofistikovaný black metal, postavený zejména na dokonalém využití potenciálu varhan. Zatím nejzajímavější metalová deska letošního roku.
Londýnští Lychgate mě zaujali už na svém předloňském eponymním debutu. Ten byl dle hlavního skladatele a kapelníka Vortigerna především jakýmsi vypořádáním se s minulostí a jeho předešlou kapelou Archaicus, pro kterou tento materiál původně skládal a dlouhá léta mu „ležel v šuplíku“. Už debut byl poměrně zajímavým pohledem či variací na vyspělý black metal, který se hrál především (cca) v letech 1997-2003. Ve Vortigernově hudbě byla slyšet inspirace ve vrcholném období tvorby Emperor a částečně i Blut Aus Nord, nad tím vším se vznášel mlžný opar esoterického funerálna a filosofična, a také snahy jít vlastní cestou.
LychgateCo debut pouze naznačil, letošní album An Antidote for the Glass Pill rozvíjí v plné síle. Kompozice jsou mnohem propracovanější, nápaditější, osobitější a dotaženější, instrumentace vyloženě perfekcionistická. Varhany, které byly na debutu pouze občasným doplňkem, tu dostávají mnohem více prostoru, resp. jsou v mnoha pasážích vyloženě vedoucím instrumentem a kytary je někdy (ovšem velmi funkčně) jen doplňují, jindy spolu zase vedou plnohodnotný, polyfonický dialog. S výjimkou Skepticism (kteří narozdíl od Lychgate nepoužívají pravé kostelní varhany, ale jakousi klávesovou verzi) mě nenapadá jiná kapela, která by potenciál varhan využila tak dokonale. Vortigern prý nebyl spokojen s možnostmi skládání na kytaře a tak velkou část materiálu složil u piana, částečně i přímo na varhany. Zmiňovaný perfekcionismus se odráží i ve faktu, že přestože skládal partitury i pro tento nástroj, jeho instrumentaci při nahrávání moudře přenechal jistému Kevinu Bowyerovi, profesionálnímu varhaníkovi, který patří k současným nejlepším interpretům a mistrně zvládá i ty nejsložitější kousky z hudební historie. Varhany někdy doplňují, nebo nahrazují i vcelku vkusné klávesy (jo, pár chvil, kdy zní trošku zastarale až naivně tam je, ale většinou jsou jejich rejstříky zvoleny vhodně a sedí do celku dobře) a klavír, sem tam se ozvou i tympány.
Z inspiračních zdrojů sám mozek kapely zmiňuje mj. Bacha, Liszta, ale i skladatele 20. století - mj. Schnittkeho, nebo Duprého - úvodní „intro“ skladba Unto My Tempest je vlastně předělávkou Duprého skladby. Dále jmenuje prog/avant-rock/rio Art Zoyd, Univers Zero, ale i industrial/avantgardní SPK a Autopsia. Všechny tyto vlivy tam lze ve větší či menší míře slyšet, je tam baroko, romantismus 19. století, moderní kompozice a avantgarda, i špetka toho industrialu. K dobru přičítám i povedená (dark) ambientní intermezza, ve kterých se kromě zvuku kostelních zvonů často objevuje i různé klapání a tikání - snad nějakých velmi starých mechanismů.
Co se metalu týče, tak vliv Emperor (především Prometheus) je zde sice stále cítit, ale již v menší míře než na debutu, snad je tu i něco ze starších Solefald - tady bych zdůraznil, že pokud si z nich něco vzali, tak jen ty serióznější elementy, jemnou nadsázku lze slyšet snad jen v první části I Am Contempt (která mi ale spíš vzdáleně něčím připomíná Ihsahnovo The Grave Inversed). Pomalejší, doomové pasáže mohou připomenout Esoteric, což z velké části způsobuje specifický (a samozřejmě vynikající) řev, na vokálním postu zde působivšího Grega Chandlera, ale disponují i podobnou drásavostí a občas i podobně zvláštně a rozsekaně řešenou rytmikou. Překvapivé je, jak jsou všechny výše zmiňované vlivy umně, vkusně, s rozvahou promixovány a transformovány a kupodivu výsledek nepůsobí přeplácaně, skladby drží kompozičně pohromadě a nic se s ničím netříská. Zvrácené disharmonie/onance se tu vcelku plynule mísí a propojují se vznešenými melodiemi, šílenství a zuřivost se smířlivějšími a majestátními okamžiky – zmíním např. gradaci v Deus Te Videt s Ihsahnovsko/Lazareovskými čistými vokály (ty později zazní ještě ve dvou dalších skladbách) končící zničující sypačkou. Právě ona přirozená, až „aristokratická“ vznešenost (neplést s macho arogancí), kterou jsem měl rád u Emperor, mi tu dost imponuje. Zpočátku se ani nemusí zdát, jak moc dobrá tahle deska je, taková Davamesque B2 stále ještě jen pozvolna nastiňuje a připravuje posluchače na to, co ho v následujících minutách čeká. První pekla přicházejí až s I Am Contempt a A Principle of Seclusion a za trojitý vrchol bych označil až Letter XIX, The Illness Named Imagination a An Acousmatic Guardian.
Po atmosférické stránce může hudba Lychgate na první dojem evokovat prostředí chladného, temného gotického chrámu, podzemních krypt a zásvětní záležitosti vůbec (lych je ve staré anglosaštině označení pro mrtvolu, lychgate brána, kterou se vnášeli mrtví do kostela či na hřbitov). Ovšem textové, resp. konceptuální pozadí je přece jen zajímavější – prim zde hrají dystopie všeho druhu – dokonalé vězení Panopticon Jeremyho Benthama, skleněná budoucnost Zamyatinovy novely My, Witkiewiczovo Nenaplnění a také Kafkovy vize. Tedy především motivy všeprostupující kontroly, paranoie, manipulace s myslí, ovládání mas, mechanizace lidstva apod. I tato témata s hudbou korespondují velmi dobře.
Mírně problematickým bodem je zvuk - rytmičák u bicích je krapet umělejší, „pleskavější“, než by se mi líbilo, sice to ruší jen někde (a taky jsem si na něj časem docela zvyknul), především v pomalejších pasážích, kde bicí hodně vyčuhují, ale jinak jsem s prací bubeníka T. J. F. Vallelyho (mj. Omega Centauri, Macabre Omen) vesměs spokojen; se standardními i často nestandardními rytmickými vzorci si poradil velmi dobře, když má prostor, dobarvuje s činely, přechody, vířivými „průklepy“ na virbl apod. Ještě ke zvuku celkově - sem tam mám dojem, že by (až na ty varhany - ty zní opravdu skvěle) mohl být v něčem o něco málo lepší, snad o ždibec vyváženější, možná by kytary mohly sem tam víc tlačit, ale vlastně… problém je, že nevím, jak to přesně specifikovat a jde v podstatě jen o celkem drobnou výtku. Zvuk se mi jinak až na některé detaily líbí, ale asi by mohlo být ještě lépe. Doplním jen, že o mix a mastering se staral Greg Chandler v jeho Priory Recordings Studios.
Poslech nahrávky zabere delší čas ke zpracování - byly chvíle, když jsem z ní byl až nekriticky nadšen, občas mi zase vyloženě nesedla a nepřišla mi až tak skvělá a zajímavá. Netvrdím, že Lychgate dělají něco revolučního, pokud něco posunují, tak asi jen ono využití a zakomponování varhan v (black) metalovém kontextu. Předvádí ovšem velmi suverénní, působivý a i celkem osobitý pohled na tzv. „avantgardní black metal“ (vhodnější by asi byl výraz sofistikovaný). Nakonec jsem po mnoha posleších z aktuální desky Lychgate nadšen, ne sice zcela bezvýhradně, ale nadšen. Pro mě zatím nejzajímavější metalová deska letošního roku. V rámci black metalu nejlepší věc za poslední cca 3 roky.
Written by AddSatan.
LYCHGATE’S HORRIFIC NEW RECORD ‘AN ANTIDOTE FOR THE GLASS PILL’ MOURNS OUR SOCIETIES, PSYCHES
I’m completely convinced that there are forces everywhere who know what we’re doing at all time and can report anything undesirable back to whoever needs to know. Actually, I think I just mean that we all walk around with spy devices that can be used to track us and mark our every move (you know, our phones). That’s why the Edward Snowden story didn’t shock me in the least and kind of didn’t bother me. It seemed kind of obvious these things are going on.
I don’t know if that’s quite what Lychgate were thinking about when they created their cinematically terrifying new record “An Antidote for the Glass Pill.” But when sifting through the biographical material accompanying the music and indulging in the music, it’s where it took me in my head. The record is a concept piece that examines the negative aspects of post-modern life, especially psychologically and ho society has devolved, drawing upon Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon prison structure as inspiration, as well as Yevgeny Zamyatin’s dystopian nightmare novel “We” and Polish writer Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz’s brain-washing story “Insatiability.” In fact, the album’s title combines elements from each story and drives us headlong toward a terrifying vision of constant surveillance and being numbed into all-consuming, never-thinking sheep who sleep, work, eat, repeat. It’s something a lot of us probably don’t want to think too much about lest we stumble onto what’s really going on out there.
While together as a band officially for the last few years, the band’s music was born as a concept nearly a decade ago. Vortigern, who handles guitars, vocals, and chants, is the one responsible for the words and music you hear on this record (opener “Unto My Tempest” aside), and he is joined by a notable cast that includes vocalist Greg Chandler (Esoteric); drummer/percussionist T.J.F. Vallely (Macabre Omen); guitarist S.D. Lindsley; bassist A.K. Webb; piano player F.A. Young; and organist K.J. Bowyer, who has a massive role on this record. The band weaves together a classically horrible tale, one that would be best shown on screen in a cobweb-draped, black-and-white setting, as the band’s gothic, dramatic black metal rains down and forces you to confront the story.
Introductory track “Unto My Tempest” raises the curtain on the album, with orchestral swirls, doom bells chiming, and weird playing that spills into “Davamesque B2” and its dramatic, shadow-drenched horror. The song is spooky and echoey at the start, turning into gurgly growling and sweeping playing, cinematic stretches that feel morbid, and finally ending in a bed a gigantic organs that make it seem like the beginning of a funeral mass. “I Am Contempt” continues the terror, with vicious, shrieked vocals that pierce and guitars that start to burn heavily and hover over the scene. The melodies swagger as the song winds down, with charnel bells once again striking and bringing a pall to the atmosphere. “A Principle of Conclusion” has keys fluttering and leading into pure savagery. The track is a wild menagerie of dark organs, journeys into proggy waters, and eventually a heavily hammering assault that aims to destroy. Keys create a fog and spiral out, leading toward “Letter XIX” that has chimes, boiling guitars, and harsh howls, with the song churning and bleeding and later delivering blinding lightning strikes. This song is huge enough to be presented on a major theater stage, with every member playing their part to weave the dark plotline.
“Deus te Videt” opens on a hypnotic noise loop, melting everything around it and turning it into lava, while a haunting choral section appears and opens up the door to apocalypse. The back end of the song is violent and turbulent, paving the way for “The Illness Named Imagination,” which fires up the huge organs again and growls that just wrench. The melodies pulsate and get in your bloodstream, while the band paints the corners with goth-bloodied brush strokes. “An Acousmatic Guardian” lets the keys blow in and toss papers and dust asunder, with gruff vocals grinding away and the music sweltering hard. The song plods along, taking its time to spill its guts, and right after keys sweep in and soak the ground, the track rips open and gives one more tough beating. “My Hate to Burn Forever” has guitars spurting, going back into proggy territory that makes this thing even more compelling. The track is allowed to boil lightly, with anguished screams disrupting and pastoral organs slamming closed the door. “The Pinnacle Known to Sisyphus” is a quick, 2:59-long closer that ties up all ends, acting as a perfect summary with dramatic dashes, clean singing, and a moody, rainy sentiment bringing the final splashes of morbidity.
Lychgate have created one of the boldest, most riveting metal albums of the year from a content standpoint, and the music sounds unlike anything else out there right now. “An Antidote for the Glass Pill” is one of those terrible stories in which you can get utterly lost, as you see everything unfold and realize that you’re a part of the plotline. There’s a lot more to our world than we’ll ever know, and Lychgate is trying to give you a glimpse into the minds of those who don’t exactly have our best interests in mind.
For more on the band, go here.
To buy the album, go here.
For more on the label, go here.
Written by Brian Krasman.
A cavernous cacophony from England's darkest recesses
Having formed in 2001 as Archaicus, it wasn't until their self-titled debut as Lychgate in 2013 that they became a name to contend with.
Founded by one Vortigern, Lychgate's music trawls through operatic highs, industrial lows and chasms filled with darkness. Taking time off from Esoteric, vocalist Greg Chandler brings surges of misanthropic bile to An Antidote For The Glass Pill while the band creates waves of deconstructed horror behind the hatred.
It's huge, with Davamesque B2 rolling with deep, unholy terror and passages of uncomfortable quiet that build and twist into images of dystopian terror. I Am Contempt is forced through dissonant curves of guitar and bombastic organs are incorporated as an integral portion of the landscapes of sound. An Antidote is an otherworldly, intriguing release that isn't afraid to push the boundaries and embrace the apocalyptic terror found beyond.
Written by Cheryl Carter.
Британската банда Lychgate е сравнително ново име в актуалната блек метъл картинка. И независимо, че за някои то може да звучи непознато, трябва да отбележим, че музикантите имат един албум зад гърба си, а в състава им личат имена, със солиден опит и оставили следи с банди като Esoteric и Macabre Omen.
Две години след едноименния си дебют, Lychgate отново изплуват над хоризонта на мъгливия Албион с втория си албум „An Antidote For The Glass Pill“. За две години лондонският квинтет сякаш се е заровил в още по-дълбок мрак и е успял да създаде истински диаболичен албум, музика със специфичен характер и дълбочина, звучаща едновременно агресивно и по своему плашещо.
Новата творба е вглъбен и зрял запис, умело заиграващ се с непредсказуемостта на експерименталния блек метъл и гробовната атмосфера на фюнеръл дуума. Музикантите не се страхуват да експериментират в композирането си, което спестява на албума монотонност и успява да насочи слушателя да вникне към детайлите. Песните звучат като смес от класическа пиеса, музика към хорър филм, но с впити в тях тежки, масивни и апокалиптични рифове и отнасящи мелодични откъси. Светилото Greg Chandler и неговият глас дават на Lychgate щипка Esoteric, но в същото време чистите вокали препращат към банди като ранните Arcturus и Solefald, например (Маршовият ритуал „The Pinnacle Known Тo Sisyphus“ е абсолютен вокален шедьовър).
Особено силно впечатление оставя забележителното присъствие на инструмент като органа, който почти през цялото време обагря с диаболични окраски призрачната атмосфера на албума. Непрестанните дуели на органи и китари, забежките към класическата музика, напевните вокали и моментите чисти пасажи сякаш ни рисуват картина, достойна за най-добрите майстори на мрачното изкуство от Средновековието.
Новият диск на Lychgate със сигурност не е лесен за възприемане албум, поне не и на първо слушане. Със своето авангардно звучене „An Antidote For The Glass Pill“ може да стои гордо редом до албумите на доказани експерименталисти като Blut Aus Nord и Dødheimsgard плюс щипка Omega Centauri, например. Но не посягайте към албума, с идеята, че ще чуете нещо подобно на посочените банди. Lychgate бавно, но сигурно утъпкват свой собствен музикален път. Накъде ще ги отведе той, ще покаже бъдещето, но ако продължават в същия дух, англичаните могат да бъдат сигурни, че ги чакат повече от добри дни.
Written by Herbst.
Formed in the U.K. in 2011, Lychgate was spearheaded by Vortigern (vocals, organ, keyboards) and T.J. Valleley (drums), both men who have plied their trade in such acts as Orpheus, Spearhead, and Macabre Omen. The time was well spent, because after a solid self-titled 2013 debut, Lychgate return in 2015 with An Antidote For the Glass Pill on Finnish label Blood Music. To build upon their style of left-field, high concept black metal, the boys have once again enlisted Greg Chandler (Esoteric) for vocals/guitars, but bring in T.K. Webb (Ancient Ascendant) on bass guitar, as well as a contribution from S.D. Lindsley on guitar.
As much Liszt as Limbonic Art, Lychgate combine the avant-garde leanings of unconventional time signatures, classical music, but build each level onto a harsh black metal foundation. For this second album, the U.K. troupe has crafted their songs largely around the prominence of the pipe organ. What results is an eldritch, surrealistic listening experience which also pays great heed to the cinematic. Moods upon the album vary from the cerebral to the positively uncomfortable, forcing the listener to hold on tight and plunge wherever its authors have decided to take them.
For black metal of the more straight ahead variety, look no further than the blistering 'I Am Contempt,' which goes for the throat, but never fails to lose a sort of manic classical flavoring, as the song is peppered underneath with pipe organ and keyboards aplenty. Never at the expense of the growling guitar and the percussive accompaniment, the unusual arrangements are instead perfectly synthesized. Lychgate may just be the most 'weird' heavy band to incite a circle pit you might ever hear. Webb's bass guitar performance reminds one of the arrangements in Dream Theater, yet the black metal parts are so much heavier than say, what we may find in Arcturus or Solefald. Both of those acts are amazing and unique, but in an effort to form a label for Lychgate, fans will be inclined to group them with that left of center ilk of brilliant bands who followed in the steps of Ved Buens Ende and filled the blackness of the genre with their own spectrum, their own slant. With An Antidote For The Glass Pill, Lychgate gathers up the strange in an embrace of furious black metal, never truly letting go despite the classical influence and less conventional arrangements.
On "A Principle of Seclusion," the organ acts as the skeleton of the song in a rousing, building swirl of classical music gone metal, until around 1:30 in, it sounds like Deathspell Omega took over the proceedings. Not a rip off whatsoever, but the blackened storm and dungeon vocals bring to mind such cavernous abyssal moans as can be found on the darkest of black metal albums leeching their way into the world. Lychgate keep it their own by slowing down and taking unexpected turns down the labyrinthine tunnels of their own imaginations. They allow the blast to get under the listener's skin, but before anyone gets comfortable they are spinning out their own web of entangled yet natural sounds. Your head will spin, but you will enjoy the ride.
"Deus Te Videt" is massively enjoyable, with a chanted clean vocal and almost martial cadence, which is then t-boned by a worthy blasting section that tests the nimble fingers of Vortigern as the keys and organs race to keep up. As is the habit of a few of their compositions, Lychgate allows the song to fade into quiet interludes of ticking, dripping repetitions and faraway voices. This fires the imagination of the listener, truly placing them into Lychgate's ensorcelled world.
"Letter XIX" may be the most uncomfortable listen, in a good way. It begins with a jilted, anxious keyboard/organ combo, and features some marvelous drumming. A musician's special, it nevertheless will make even an unschooled listener feel like they're lost in a carnival of distorted mirrors, whispers of nightmares haunting their steps while phantoms enshroud their sight. Bizarre, creative, and yet replete with a menace that is not at all contrived.
"The Illness Named Imagination" features an almost jazz drum and organ breakdown, with a suite of organ solos and cymbal crashing which turns into a circus of grotesques captured in sound. Some clean vocals revolve us closer to the world that Arcturus and Ulver helped construct. Here Lychgate show a massive understanding of dynamics and songwriting. Yet the brash virtuoso playing remains. One has to believe that Wagner would love this, were he alive to hear it today.
An Antidote For The Glass Pill, all in all, is an extremely rewarding listen, rich and with depth of feeling. Strong throughout, it is perhaps the back half of the album which truly stuns, as "An Acousmatic Guardian" with its haunting piano midsection, and "My Fate To Burn Forever" with still more black metal meets classical adroitness, undoubtedly prove.
Ending on a similar three minute outro similar to the intro which begins it, the listener will want to roll that giant rock up to the summit of the hill again and again. Unlike Sisyphus, to whom the final song is an ode (wondrous clean vocal here similar in style to
) replaying An Antidote For The Glass Pill will never be burdensome, but instead, automatic.
Written by Nicholas Franco.
The other week I reviewed Myrkur’s album and necessarily this involved some discussion of whether it deserved to be called ‘original’ or not. It did have an unusual and distinctive sound, but the actual musical ideas were quite clearly derived from elsewhere. Lychgate, without wanting to overstate things, are a much better example of a black metal band genuinely heading into new territory. Their self-titled was one of my favourite albums of 2013 and now they are continuing to explore this very odd and compelling little niche they have created; in spirit somewhere close to the grandiose menace of later Emperor, but also deeply imbued with the grotesque and eccentric darkness of the likes of Esoteric (Greg Chandler is also in Lychgate).
The freakish church organ sound is even more centralised here than on its predecessor. It is a wonderfully bizarre centrepiece: sometimes it is used to ramp up the Baroque atmosphere with its little trills and arpeggios, and at other times it conveys this kooky prog feel, like a blackened version of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Some of the tracks here are disorienting. Davamesque B2, for example, begins with these shrill, oddly-angled melodic lines in the lead guitar, underpinned by rapidfire organ twinkling, before it all suddenly disperses into an ominous mid-tempo section featuring menacing string stabs. Or the hyperactive key hammering on I Am Contempt, which melts into rich, booming chords and screechy flashes of lead solo: the sound is theatrical and cavernous in the same way as Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk.
Lychgate is very good at taking these strange, seemingly shapeless passages and twisting them suddenly into hair-raising climaxes. An example here is Letter XIX, which starts out with these misshapen rhythms and curiously meandering melodic lines, before suddenly being roughly yanked into this dissonant unison hammering across the entire band. It is quite cacophonous and freakish, and a perfect encapsulation of this new force in black metal.
Killing Songs :
Davamesque B2, Letter XIX
Written by Charles.
When I heard a few years ago that Greg Chandler, mastermind of the mysterious and psychedelically-tinged Esoteric, had a black metal side band, my curiosity was almost immediately raised. The self titled Lychgate that resulted in 2013, while decent, also felt as though it wasn't reaching the full potential of the parties involved. Now, in 2015, An Antidote For The Glass Pill is changing that.
Right from the beginning of this sophomore effort, it's pretty clear that Lychgate have changed up their game. While the band's debut at many points felt somewhat lackluster and formulaic, An Antidote For The Glass Pill sees their music taking many more twists and turns, and leaning much more towards spontaneity. There's a very great feeling here that you never know what to expect, as, each track has a particular sound that makes it distinct from the others. Whether it's the somewhat doomy feel of "Davamesque B2," the more straightforward black metal approach of "A Principle On Seclusion," or the powerful chants in the middle of "Deus Te Videt," the diversity of techniques Lychgate are playing with here is quite far reaching.
Those looking for some hints of Esoteric on this album surely won't be entirely disappointed either, for, while it's not a funereal howl of misanthropy, An Antidote For The Glass Pill does nonetheless still carry a healthy dose of Chandler's ability to create wonderful, entrancing atmospheres. Of particular importance to this is the new additions of organ and piano, which run heavily throughout the entire album and often serves to create an epic, almost darkly orchestral undertone. An example of just how well this mood complements the heaviness of Lychgate is perhaps best evident on "An Acousmatic Garden," whose beautiful ending is a definite highlight of the album.
Listening to An Antidote For The Glass Pill, one can often get the feeling that Lychgate aren't exactly sure of which direction they really want to go in with their music, as multiple styles abound and it is very difficult to discern exactly which takes precedence. Yet with repeated listens, it becomes clearer that an amalgamation of sound really was what the band was going for here, and they certainly nailed it. This album is very much what I was hoping for out of the band's debut, yet didn't really get, and in that regard it is both highly enjoyable and redeeming. It may not be good to the point of being worthy of "masterpiece" status, but it certainly is a step in the right direction, and one that gets me highly interested in the future of Lychgate from here.
Like complex, ever-shifting metal with a good splash of atmosphere? Go and get it!
Written by Apotechary.
LYCHGATE are one of London's most promising Extreme Metal acts, playing a very progressive, and full sounding, kind of Black Metal. Since forming in 2012, they've managed to build a cult following, largely off of the back of their debut, self-titled album. Their latest full length, "An Antidote For the Glass Pill", sees them expand on the foundations that their debut laid out, creating a record that is interesting and genuinely unique, sounding nothing like anything their contemporaries are producing.
"Unto My Tempest", the albums opening offering, is a short but extremely memorable introduction to this record. The eerie, dissonant organ music and sparse guitar lines used here really catch your attention , and the thick layer of atmospherics this track is layered with sound great. "Davamesque B2", the following track, continues in the same vein, with a lot of cool, eerie elements thrown into the music which makes it sound awesome. The core sound is clearly rooted in Black Metal, but this is far from just "another" Black Metal track; the organ pieces on here help to make this track sound different, and really beef out the sound of the overall song. It's a huge, cacophonous wall of sound that sounds both amazing and imposing. "I Am Contempt", another awesome song that utilises organs to great effect, sounds significantly more ferocious than the track which preceded it. The guitars sound great, with plenty of melodic hooks and different tones, and the vocal performance on here really helps make the track. The albums fourth offering, "A Principle on Seclusion", is perhaps one of the best tracks on offer on this record. The music sounds amazing on all fronts, especially the organs and vocals, which provide a lot of hooks on this particular song. "Letter XIX", with its cool intro with church bells and melodic guitars, sounds excellent. The organs don't feature anywhere near as prominently as they have on the previous four songs on here, but this allows for the rest of the musical elements, notably the guitars and drums, to come to the fore. There are moments of dissonance on here, which breaks the track up and keep it interesting, and ultimately this ends up being one of the most memorable offerings on here.
"Deus Te Videt" has a great atmospheric intro, which leads straight into some equally great, atmospheric music. There's some really cool chanted vocal parts as well, which work very well with the music. The main part of the song ends rather abruptly, and we get some more atmospherics which are very similar to those that open the song, and this leads us almost seamlessly into "The Illness Named Imagination"; again, the organ sections on this track take a back seat, although they are still featured throughout the track. The overall track is a great piece of Progressive Black Metal with some catchy riffs, jarring rhythms and imaginative drumming. "The Acousmatic Guardian" has a lot of really cool, varied vocal performances on it, as well as a short, but very good, solo keyboard piece. It's clear from the performance on here that Vortigern is a talented player, and this piece made this one of the albums stand out songs. "My Fate to Burn Forever", the records penultimate track, brings the album to a climax really well. It's a much more mid-paced song, and has the sort of great guitar lines and organ sections in it that are commonplace throughout the album. The final track on here, "The Pinnacle Known to Sisphus", is a really good way to close this record. It's got some killer lead guitar parts that set you up for the song right from the first note. We're treated to some more chanted vocals, which work really well here. It's one of the shortest tracks on the whole record, but it certainly leaves its mark, and leaves the listener wanting more.
Overall, this is a very good record. There are points where the keyboards and organs are a little too prominent in the mix, which prevents the rest of the music getting the attention it deserves, but other than that, it's very hard to find fault with this band and their music. It's a genuinely unique album, from a band that has their own distinct style and formula in a scene that is, for the most part, made up of bands who stick to a strict idea of what Black Metal should look and sound like. If you want to hear some really good, progressive sounding Black Metal music, this is well worth checking out.
Written by Danny Sanderson.
The disturbing experimental metal experience of the year just arrived with Lychgate's “An Antidote For The Glass Pill.” Immersive in the extreme, this sophomore output from the U.K. band is the aural personification of the old school black metal mood, but it arrives through a much more unique and avant-garde medium. While that may turn off the fans who prefer their metallic blackness to be of the kvlt lo-fi variety, honestly it shouldn't, because these 10 tracks are the heart and soul of that style, just filtered through a different kind of soundscape.
From “Unto My Tempest” until “The Pinnacle Known to Sisyphus,” Lychgate offers up a symphonic take on black metal, but in a much more baroque, gothic, and intensely dark way than you might hear from a band like Dimmu Borgir. “An Antidote For The Glass Pill” is very much an atmospheric, free-form release with an emphasis on the pipe organ and sound effects over the riffs (although those still show up enough to keep the black metal label). There are loads of chilling, ghostly sounds in the background, like clocks ticking or far-away crying or laughter.
Take the creepy, non-metallic parts of Ne Obliviscaris and mesh them with the abrasive, hateful black metal of Dodecahedron and you've essentially got Lychgate. “Letter XIX” has a particularly devastating combination of the two styles with forceful, pointed harsh vocals accompanying staccato keyboards, each note sharply distinct from the surrounding sounds. An overall excellent journey for those who are morbidly inclined, the only downsides are the slightly lower end production, and that by the time you hit “My Fate To Burn Forever” the album could use a change in the formula for those listening all the way through in one sitting.
Much of the album is clearly meant to draw in and mesmerize rather than provide a traditional verse/chorus style of song. The disorienting, gothic organs are an ever-present companion, and the splicing in of more extreme sounds provides a constant feeling of being trapped with an unhallowed church where all who have entered should probably abandon hope and give into the void. If you dig the combination of form and function from Deathspell Omega, or any sort of hypnotizing black metal that drops genre standards in favor of a more experimental approach like Peccatum, then “An Antidote For The Glass Pill” should easily be your next album choice.
Highs: Avant-garde black metal goes seriously gothic with a disturbing sound that is unlikely to be matched by any other band this year.
Lows: Not too much to complain about here - the production could use a slight boost, and by the end the pipe organ trope does get overly familiar.
Bottom line: If you want your black metal disturbing, atmospheric, and experimental, then look no further.
Written by xFiruath.
"Das älteste und stärkste Gefühl ist Angst, die älteste und stärkste Form der Angst, ist die Angst vor dem Unbekannten."
H.P. Lovecraft, "Supernatural Horror in Literature" (1938)
Um "An Antidote For The Glass Pill", das neue Werk der englischen Schwarzmetall-Avantgardisten LYCHGATE, umreißen zu können, lohnt sich zunächst der Vergleich mit dem Vorgängerwerk, dem selbstbetitelten Debütalbum. Die starken Assoziationen an SATYRICON, die das Debüt noch hervorgerufen hat, finden sich auf "An Antidote For The Glass Pill" nur noch blass und rudimentär – kompositorisch und atmosphärisch nähert man sich eher einer Mischung aus den mächtigen und kolossalen ESOTERIC und den suizidalen DOLORIAN an, erliegt dabei jedoch nicht der Versuchung, in die allzu geordneten und schleifenden Songstrukturen des Funeral Doom zu verfallen. Vielmehr erschaffen LYCHGATE eine eigene, spannende Mischung: Durch Abschichtung der grundlegenden Strukturen des Black Metal, Beförderung der Orgel vom "Beiwerk" zu einem maßgeblichen Protagonisten und Fokussierung auf die behäbigeren Abfolgen der orchestralen Elemente, bekommt "An Antidote For The Glass Pill" einen zutiefst mystischen und ungeheuer bösen Anstrich. Zudem wird das Tempo seltener und nur sehr pointiert angezogen, als bisher - entweder um die aufgestaute Spannung ventilartig zu kanalisieren oder der mächtigen Orgel einen rasenden Teppich zu bereiten. Hinzu kommen vertrackte, geradezu labyrinthische Melodiefolgen und Songstrukturen – J.S. Bach trifft EMPEROR in einer Nervenheilanstalt.
"An Antidote For The Glass Pill" verhält sich damit wie eine Erkundungsreise durch ein verwittertes, verfallendes Kirchenschiff, inklusive angeschlossenem Friedhof, Gruft und verwinkelten Tunnelanlagen – und alles was man dabei hat, ist ein Feuerzeug als Lichtquelle. Man weiß kaum, wie es hinter der nächsten Abzweigung weiter geht, erahnt es vielleicht – und der Körper ist angespannt vor Aufregung, in panischer Furcht vor dem unsichtbaren, namenlosen Grauen. Der Verstand wird beständig malträtiert von den tiefen, dröhnenden Orgelklängen, die aus den Tiefen des Baus emporsteigen: Der direkte Bezug zu horrorhafter, mystischer und finsterer Literatur, wie sie aus der Feder eines E.A. Poe oder H.P. Lovecraft stammt, ist über die gesamte Albumlänge von knapp fünfzig Minuten geradezu greifbar. Die orchestrale Wucht, die "An Antidote For The Glass Pill" dabei entfaltet, ist niederschmetternd: Bereits im Opener "Unto My Tempest" hat man das Gefühl, unter den tonnenschweren Klängen einer Kirchenglocke und bleiernden Orgelpfeifen begraben zu werden – ein Gemütszustand, der auch im Verlauf der weiteren vierzig Minuten nicht verschwinden mag. Mit dem schleifenden "Davemesque B2" gelingt ein Einstand nach Maß, das Albumhighlight "Letter XIX" pendelt gekonnt zwischen barockem Prunk und kaltem Schwarzmetall, "Deus Te Videt" mit seinem Klängen einer antiken Standuhr und choralen Gesangslinien stellt in der Mitte des Albums nur eine kurze atmosphärische Verschnaufpause dar – damit "An Antidote For The Glass Pill" in der zweiten Hälfte noch tiefer in die Düsternis hinabsteigen kann. "An Acousmatic Guardian" mit einem soundtrackartigen Zwischenspiel und furiosem Abschluss treibt den Wahnsinn dann auf die Spitze – der Abschlusstrack "The Pinnacle Known To Sysiphus" verblüfft schließlich mit Klargesang – und dann: Ende. Durchatmen.
Die vielseitig eingesetzte Instrumentierung, von Piano, über Pauke bis zum Cembalo trägt seinen eigenen Anteil zu einem organischen Klangerlebnis bei, ebenso das krankhafte Schreien und Kreischen von ESOTERICs Frontmann Greg Chandler – die hallende, räumlich tiefe Produktion macht die Angelegenheit dann zu einem wahren Erlebnis. Annähernd klingen einige Passagen vage nach den Landsleuten von BAL-SAGOTH (insbesondere im etwas flotteren "My Fate To Burn Forever" oder dem erzählerischen "I Am Contempt") oder den stimmungsvollen Momenten von DISSECTION, ohne allerdings jemals in überzogenen Kitsch, billige Effekthascherei oder unnötigen Pathos abzudriften.
Eine wahrlich schwarzes Gebräu kochen LYCHGATE auf "An Antidote For The Glass Pill" zusammen und bieten eine finstere, monumentale und verstörende Zeremonie dar, die einem den kalten Schauer über den Rücken jagt.
Written by Sven Lattemann.
Je suis cette formation depuis leur première réalisation au titre éponyme Lychgate (2013), Hamster Forever nous avait d’ailleurs publié un news à ce propos (news ici). Etant un adorateur du mighty Esoteric, j’avoue que mon intérêt pour cette formation était au départ surtout due au fait que Greg Chandler (chant) participait à ce projet. Par la suite j’ai appris que Lychgate était un projet né des cendres de Archaicus qui était l’exutoire solitaire de Vortigern (Guitares, Chant, orgue, claviers et Piano). Il s’est alors associé à Greg Chandler, Aran (basse) Lunar Aurora et TF Vallely (batterie et percussions) Omega Centauri, Macabre Omen. Ce premier album qui regroupait des compositions basées sur du vieux matériel (2009-2011) a reçu de manière assez unanime un accueil très favorable. Il nous présentait un Dark Metal (en langage de vieux comprendre mélange de Black Metal de Death Metal et de Doom Metal) avangardiste avec déjà beaucoup de claviers et d’orgue. Je situais alors leur musique quelque part entre celle de Abigor ou celle de leurs compatriotes de Ebony Lake sur leur superbe premier album On The Eve Of The Grimly Inventive (1999) et celle de Arcturus.
Comme je vous l’annonçais il y a quelques semaines (news ici) Lychgate nous revient le 18 Août prochain avec un nouvel album An Antidote for the Glass Pill bourré de matériels récent ! Déjà un premier constat s’impose : le son est excellant ! Je salue donc le travail accompli par le groupe et son assistant ingénieur S.Hamill s’étant chargé des orgues (d’après ce que j’ai compris la prise de son s’est effectuée en condition naturel genre dans une église) ainsi que l’Eidola Studios (pour la batterie) et le Priory Studios (tout le reste) (Cruciamentum, Indesinence, Macabre Omen) dont le mixage et le mastering a été réalisé par Greg Chandler himself. Le line-up a été légerement remanié puisque exit Aran remplacé à la basse par A.K. Webb du groupe de Death Metal anglais Ancient Ascendant. Il s’est aussi étoffé avec l’arrivée du guitariste S.D. Lindsley.
Comme la production le souligne et c’est une évolution majeure par rapport au premier album, les Orgues ainsi que les orchestrations de Vortigern et la batterie sont l’épine dorsale de ce nouvel opus. La section « Metal » est bien présente, je vous rassure mais elle tient plus un rôle d’accompagnement et a d’ailleurs été mixée un tantinet en dessous. Pour les cancres dans le fond de la salle qui ne suivent pas, quand je dis « section metal » je parle des basses / guitares ! Il n’est d’ailleurs pas surprenant de retrouver Vortigern à l’origine de toute la composition de la musique du groupe ainsi que des textes.
Un autre fait notable est à signaler car il consiste à accentuer le tournant Orchestral, Néoclassique et Musique Contemporaine voire Musique Concrète dans le propos musical de Lychgate qui était déjà d’obédience Avant-gardiste sur le premier opus. Il s’agit de la participation active de Kevin Bowyer un organiste réputé notamment pour ses interprétations de musique Néoclassique (courant musical de la fin du XIXème et du début / milieu du XXème siècle avec des artistes comme Charles-Marie Widor, Marcel Dupré ou Olivier Messiaen). Un morceau comme « I Am Contempt » avec son introduction très Musique Contemporaine illustre parfaitement cet aspect mais c’est le cas sur la totalité de l’album.
Tous les morceaux sont épatant, sophistiqués et installent une certaine classe et grandeur ! Le dépaysement est total par rapport aux productions Metal actuelles ! Surtout que Lychgate ne perd absolument rien en intensité et chaos ! Il faut ici se rendre à l’évidence nous avons bien à faire à un album de musique extrême et il faut saluer la prouesse technique du batteur TF Vallely qui tient la baraque de manière éloquente tout du long de l’album en alternant roulements, blastbeats et parties plus délicates. Les parties de chant sont dans leur ensemble toujours très bonnes et le timbre si particulier de Greg Chandler allié au chant clair et divers chœurs ajoute une nuance supplémentaire au nuancier déjà bien fournit de Lychgate. Un bel exemple de cette dualité des vocaux avec « Deus te Videt » et « The Pinnacle Known to Sisyphus » où l’on pense au chant clair de ICX Vortex.*
Cet album est vraiment riche et complexe à appréhender et une multitude d’écoutes vous seront nécessaires afin d’en apprécier toute l’intensité et la finesse. Une richesse et une complexité que l’on retrouve aussi dans le concept de l’album et ses textes. Une sorte de critique sur les effets négatifs de l’ère post-modern sur notre société et la psychologie de ses masses. Bon je ne suis pas bilingue mais tout ceci à l’air fort intéressant !*
An Antidote for the Glass Pill est un nouvel exemple de la très bonne tenue de la scène Metal Extrême indépendante qui se montre audacieuse, exubérante, inventive et tout simplement épatante ! Quand j’écoute un album de cet acabit j’ai encore moins envie d‘aller écouter des trucs issus de groupes ou courants plus mainstream et grand publique qui trop souvent m’affligent par leur pauvreté de leurs productions linéaires et stéréotypés. Pour finir je recommande ce skeud à tous les ouverts d’esprit ainsi qu’aux personnes appréciant la musique de Abigor, Esoteric, Arcturus et Rosa Crvx voire même aux personnes sensibles aux courants de la musique Gothic. Un album qui sera très certainement dans mes Tops en fin d’année !
Written by FalculA.
“An Antidore ForThe Glass Pill” es el segundo lanzamiento de los ingleses LYCHGATE. Un trabajo que contiene diez cortes de pura oscuridad y terror. Un disco donde la atmósfera más oscura invade cada uno de los acordes que lo componen. Cuarenta y nueve minutos de un Black Metal muy ambiental, profundo y siniestro. Entremos sin más en el lúgubre sonido de este disco.
Abrimos el camino del miedo con “Unto My Tempest” la cual comienza con sonidos de terror y campanas de iglesia que auguran la oscuridad que se aproxima. Un alocado y tenebroso órgano, a cargo de K.J. Bowyer, le da ese toque terrorífico a esta magnífica entrada. A las sepulcrales teclas se le une Vallely, quien desde los bombos y platillos estalla en un fría y melancólica melodía propia del Doom. Una pieza instrumental salida de la cripta nos da esta bienvenida tan oscura.
“Davemesque B2” es la pieza más larga de todo el disco. Este segundo corte de algo más de siete minutos nos mantiene en vilo en ese mundo de terror clásico que esta banda nos ofrece. La voz de Chandler es ese gutural que juega con un desesperante alarido de sufrimiento. Si a este tono vocal le sumamos el profundo y siniestro coro de Vortigern (guitarra y piano a la vez), nos encontramos con una composición a medio camino entre el Doom y el Avantgarde más oscuro. En su parte final todo se transforma a una velocidad mayor y llegamos a tener ciertas partes que rozan el Black Metal, pero obviamente al tratarse de una formación que usa dos pianos y un magnífico órgano, todas sus composiciones suenan muy cercanas al Dark Ambient. Excelente final con una reconocida melodía propia de las bandas sonoras de las películas de terror clásicas.
Seguimos con “I Am Contempt”. De nuevo el órgano nos da ese toque de frialdad a la vez que las guitarras de Lindsley y Vortigern se unen a un ritmo acelerado de la batería, en otra gran parte cercana al Black. En esta composición todo suena desordenado y los sonidos chocan unos contra otros hasta, excepto en breves pasajes donde todo vuelve a la normalidad. Un tema muy estridente en sus líneas generales. Impresionante bajo a cargo del señor A.K. Webb en la parte central del tema.
El cuarto corte del disco lleva como nombre “A Principle on Seclusion”. El órgano suena ahora algo más limpio para darnos otro inicio que nos traslada al más sucio de los cementerios. La garganta de Chandler vuelve a darnos esos guturales casi imposibles en uno de los temas más lentos del álbum en ciertas partes, para volver a mezclarse con el alocado Avantgarde Black que LYCHGATE tan bien sabe hacer. Gran parte ambiental en su centro que a cierta medida, salvando y mucho las distancias, me recuerda a los grandísimos en dicho género NOX ARCANA.
Le continua “Letter XIX” tema que comienza con otras campanas de iglesias y unos sonidos chirriantes y extraños. Composición que vuelve a meternos en lo más profundo de una mente perversa y enferma. Sonidos pesados pero sin orden alguno. Todo muy descolocado e inquietante. Pero siempre con esa esencia de oscuridad que estos músicos sacan de sus instrumentos.
La sexta entrada es “Deus te Videt”. Un reloj y sus golpes de gong nos da la entrada a un gran tema. Composición donde volvemos a ver ciertas raíces de Doom y una gran influencia de Dark Ambient. Aquí podemos disfrutar de un coro a varias voces “limpias” que nos da otro toque de siniestralidad al conjunto. Tema que va in crescendo hasta dejarnos en los brazos del Black Metal más alocado.
“The Illness Named Imagination” nos ofrece un inicio diferente al resto ya que desde su principio son varios los instrumentos los que suenan a la vez y no uno solo el que se encarga de abrirlo. Pero da la sensación de no ir por el mismo sendero. Mientras la batería va a su velocidad de Black Metal, los demás instrumentos juegan con un ritmo más pausado y tranquilo. Una vez más LYCHGATE nos da una composición que nos trasporta a la más desesperante de las locuras.
Entramos en la parte final del disco con “An Acousmatic Guardian” . De nuevo el órgano abre el telón y la batería rompe con todo a su aire. Esta vez es la voz profunda y cercana al Doom de Vortigern la primera en sonar.
Cierran el tracklist “My Fate to Burn Forever” y “The Pinnacle Known to Sisyphus” dos temas que continúan con toda la esencia del disco y que cierran de forma impresionante un trabajo que de principio a fin suena compacto y uniforme. Lo peor del disco a destacar es su mal sonido. Puede que para el estilo de ultratumba que tiene esta banda, ese sonido sea el adecuado, pero estoy convencido de que con una producción mejor, el disco hubiera llegado más lejos.
Written by Santi Machín.
Hailing from the United Kingdom comes a truly brilliant band in the form of Lychgate, featuring members from some of the most respected bands in the underground. The group is comprised of bassist A.K Webb (Ancient Ascendant, Navigator) drummer T.J.F Vallely (Macabre Omen, Orpheus), S.D Lindsay on guitars, James “Vortigern” Young (Spearhead, The One, Orpheus) handling guitars, piano, and vocals, Greg Chandler (Esoteric) on vocals and K. J. Bowyer playing the mighty organ and F. A. Young adding more piano. Lychgate have been creating unorthodox but excellent black metal for the last 2 years, although I was not as familiar with the band as I was with some of the member’s previous groups, so before I reviewed their latest record I went ahead and bought their first album to get a better understanding and I was pleasantly surprise at how great the album was. Really intense for me being a perfect black metal release, after hearing that album I got an idea of how I was going to do this review, but upon hearing the new album, An Antidote for the Glass Pill, what a completely different album from its predecessor.
With opener “Unto my Tempest‘” serving as an introduction onto an immersive odyssey, it has a carnival-esque vibe that suddenly changes to a more ominous sound that segues neatly into “Davamesque B2” which manages to create an eerie vibe with its well-executed tempo changes alternating from heavy doom riffs to an almost baleful black metal sound that, at times, feels like you’re on a circus in the middle of a purgatory. Like haven of weirdness, madness, and brilliance that is too beautifully twisted and thought provoking, with Chandler’s voice serving as your guide in this ride as you navigate the cirque of insanity. However things get truly twisted with “I am Contempt,” a track threads the line between chaos and an absurdity perfectly. I must point out the music here is completely unique and it has a transcendental like atmosphere that can compel the listener to do some soul searching in this unpredictable odyssey. “A Principle on Seclusion” continues down the path of madness in an excellent way with haunting church pipe organ and piano lines that add a depth of elegance to this stunning composition, although this track is unlike the previous ones, as it is a more straightforward affair with some fine drumming by Vallely that ranges from solid double bass work to precise blast beats and some nice passages in between that complement the guitars and the euphoric vocals nicely.
We’ve arrived to the second part of our odyssey as “Letter XIX” serves as an anomalistic track that highlights the member’s talents in such a grandiose way that at times I was left speechless at how insanely talented everyone here is from the drumming fills of Vallely to the precisely, potent bass work of Webb, the sinister riffage of Lindsay, Vortigen’s expansive piano lines, guitars textures and Chandler’s vocal contortions are hypnotically unsettling and majestic at the same time. “Deus te Videt” changes things a bit heading in a more space rock like style but retaining their distinctive black metal sound. Vortigern’s voice gets operatic midway and the band throws a nice blasting section but slowly fades into a calm textural sound. As we go through this mystical land we’ve arrived to one of the best tracks in the entire album, the aptly titled “The Illness Named Imagination,” a sonically and augural track that would make Arcturus proud with its dreamy piano lines, Chandler’s inauspicious vocals, although doing them clean, he manages to engulf the listener in a claustrophobic aura that can be beautiful and dreary at the same time, but it is the approach by the rest of the band that makes this track shine. Everyone plays their part perfectly it might sound minimalistic, but it has layers of lunacy intertwined with such bloom that it’s just a perfect track!.
“An Acousmatic Guardian” starts nicely but once more the vocals stand out and the carnival like vibe returns once more becoming a central part of “An Acousmatic Guardian” There’s something about this track that makes things different, not in a bad way, but it’s allure and textural music makes it a departure from the rest of the record. Not a bad thing as this album is filled with such anodyne like compositions that it’s impossible to pinpoint styles as evident with “My Fate to Burn Forever.” It has an amazingly catchy riff that carries the first part of the track nicely, however don’t be fooled by the blast beats and the growls because the moment the organ sounds, you get a different entity from what the beginning was. As a doomy dirge like sound takes over midway, this is where things finally come full circle for the record. Our weird cosmic odyssey ends in grand fashion as “The Pinnacle Known to Sisyphus” goes full on avant-garde and has so much depth that it is a spellbinding experience and an excellent way to end our odyssey through this optimistic carnivalesque purgatory of life and all of its horrors.
I’m going to be honest here after hearing their self-titled debut I had an idea of what their follow up might be like, however this album has exceeded all of my expectations. An Antidote for the Glass Pill is 50 minutes of cerebral exercise, between sanity and insanity, a perfect blend of cabalistic musical styles and cryptically alluring textures that it is as dark as it is beautiful. In a year were there have been many innovative releases, Lychgate have managed to create a monumental release that has so much depth and so much innovation that it will either enthrall or mystify listeners. If you’re a thinking individual or a metalhead who loves a challenge, I urge you to listen to this masterpiece of obscurity and light as this is a truly unique record.
Written by Carlos Luis.
Forte de 25 années de folklore et d'excès en tout genre, la scène Black Metal s'étirant de la froide et crasse Norvège à l'antique péninsule hellénique, se répandant tel un fléau à travers les terres de la morne Pologne et de l'actuelle République Tchèque en entraînant, dans ses sillages de flammes et de vices, les communément neutres contrées Suisses pour mieux venir vomir sa haine jusque dans nos régions; a su convertir, au fil des décades, suffisamment de fidèles pour gagner en légitimité et finalement s'imposer comme un genre majeur des musiques dites extrêmes de notre nouveau millénaire. A ce titre, il n'aura fallu que peu d'années pour que déjà, les premiers contestataires prennent leurs distances vis-à-vis de leurs sulfureux leaders. Désireux de prendre de l'altitude, de nous conter leurs traditions ancestrales ou de simplement nous proposer leurs propres alternatives, ces frondeurs, de VED BUENS ENDE à ULVER en passant par ARCTURUS, de NEGURA BUNGET à SAMAEL (et tant d'autres), vont rapidement prendre leur essor et via une musique souvent savamment arrangée et regorgeant d’atmosphères de leurs propres crus, propulseront diligemment ce Black Metal, primal et bestial, vers des sommets d’inventivité qu’on ne lui aurait jamais soupçonné.
LYCHGATE, fondé en 2012 sous l'instigation de Vortigern (chant, guitare, piano) et vite rejoint, entre autres, par Greg Chandler d'ESOTERIC (chant, guitare, mixe) et Aran de LUNAR AURORA (mais parti depuis), est incontestablement de cette trempe d'explorateurs sonores. Né des cendres d'ARCHAICUS (auteur de deux démos en son temps), le combo britannique a ainsi rapidement pu proposer aux auditeurs patentés son premier opus éponyme (2013) qui, tant par ses thèmes dystopiques que par son approche ambitieuse, a su fédérer un prometteur cercle d’initiés et trouver de généreux échos auprès des critiques spécialisés. Évidemment, ce succès d'estime ne fut en aucun cas du à un quelconque coup du sort, ce fruit défendu sachant mettre à nu les tripes de son géniteur grâce, notamment, à des compositions hantées d'un orgue habité. Et de quelle antédiluvienne monstruosité LYCHGATE n'a-t-il pas accouché là ! Car laissez-nous vous préciser que nous évoquons là, un orgue, un vrai, dans toute son immémoriale et décadente splendeur, pas l'une de nos actuelles et chétives répliques de plastique.
C'est d'ailleurs cet impassible vigil qui, en hôte stricte, viendra nous accueillir en son austère et sévère demeure de verre, dès l'entame de ce "An Antidote For The Glass Pill" travaillé, nous allons-le voir, jusqu’au-boutisme. Et ce n’est pas peu dire. Basé sur le concept de folie et d'emprisonnement qui, petit à petit, y conduira le protagoniste, cet opus ne nous laissera que bien peu de répit. A peine passé l'introductif instrumental, que nous voilà déjà le prisonnier d'un panoptique asile (se référer aux travaux des frères Bentham … dont l'œuvre fait sien le concept). Observés, surveillés, épiés par l'œil unique et scrutateur de cet omniscient gardien, nous ne saurons longuement lui résister. Futile, toute résistance à ce regard qui ne sille jamais, l'est en effet. Ce mastodonte, de sa corpulente et tubulaire ossature d'acier et via un titanesque travail de sape ne nous laissera nulle intimité, nous privant de tout répit par le remplissage systématique du moindre interstice de calme et de quiétude nécessaire pour reprendre notre souffle ("I Am Contempt", "My Fate To Burn Forever", "An Acousmatic Guardian"). C'est ainsi qu'il se complaît à mettre à nu les plus profonds tréfonds de nos âmes pour en faire ressortir, en un malsain mais maîtrisé capharnaüm, nos craintes les plus sordides. A cette insanité naissante – dont, trop tard, nous prendrons conscience qu'elle tente de nous dévorer de l'intérieur - la seule échappatoire possible et plausible, radicale mais fatale, devrait d'ailleurs rapidement s'imposer d'elle-même.
Cette formule aussi terrifiante et angoissante soit-elle, n'est pour le moins pas aussi simple qu'elle n'y parait et un Black Metal - même avant-gardiste - aussi décadent que possible, n’eut jamais pu avoir autant d'impact sur nos faibles consciences sans d'autres éléments extérieurs qui ne sauraient s'avérer n'être qu'une simple constatation de nos esprits exténués. Certes, cette batterie dansant frénétiquement d'un rythme à l'autre en faisant fi de toute bienséance est typique des noires arcanes, mais il faudra aussi compter sur de très forts et viciés relents de Funeral-doom pour subir pleinement l'inévitable et fatidique destin que LYCHGATE nous tisse et auquel, résignés, nous ne saurons échapper. L'immuabilité de certains riffs et cette production qui tente de littéralement nous asphyxier sous de successives chapes de guitares lointaines (caractéristiques, avec le chant, du son d'ESOTERIC dont Chandler est déjà l'artisan, cf. "A Principle On Seclusion", "Letter XIX"), renvoient en effet aux poncifs du genre. Ainsi emmurés vivants, toute tentative de rébellion s'en retrouve ensevelie, confinée à de si facilement et lointainement refoulées pensées. Dans tout ce marasme ambiant, seules subsistent quelques vacillantes chandelles, fol espoir d’une potentielle (mais bien sûr illusoire) chance de salut aux grées d’un piano fantomatique ("An Acousmatic Guardian") ou d’échos de théâtraux vocaux ("The Illness Named Imagination", "The Pinnacle Known To Sisyphus"). Ou bien ne sont-ce seulement là, que les propres chuintements de nos esprits déchirés ?
En cela, "An Antidote For The Glass Pill" se veut un disque diabolique, ce type même d’œuvres qui nous aspirent, impuissants que nous sommes à les combattre. Diminués, las, nous ne pourrons sortir indemnes des premières écoutes subies de ce massif mais pourtant ô combien subtil bloc sonore. A disque extraordinaire, mesures pour le moins non-ordinaires : ne vous attendez-donc pas à dompter la bête avant un nombre d’écoutes respectable (quinze/vingt, pour le moins). Et encore … on ne s’y replongera jamais par pur plaisir, mais plutôt pour cette morbide fascination qui s’en dégage. D’ailleurs, pourrons-nous même, à terme, seulement l’apprécier pour ce qu’il est ? L’écouter sans une certaine moiteur en nos chairs ? Car non content d’être musicalement éprouvant, LYCHGATE y met à jour la plus grande crainte de l’être Humain : sa privation de liberté.
Written by WËN.
Dedicated fans of Extreme Metal often suffer from an embarrassment of riches when it comes to finding bands who can competently produce the sounds they yearn for. What these same fans often lack are acts that can provide a sense of surprise and excitement, a feeling we might not have felt since the early days of diving headlong into the genre.
This is what makes Lychgate’s second full-length, An Antidote for Glass Pills, such a startling discovery. This group consists of Vortigern, also of The One (vocals), G.A. Chandler, also of U.K. group Esoteric (vocals), T.J.F.Vallely of Macabre Omen (drums and percussion), S.D. Lindsley (guitar), A.K. Webb (bass), K.J. Bowyer (organ), and F.A. Young (piano). Obviously, with some members being involved with other well-known projects (at least in underground circles), there is some indication this is a side-project, which would be a shame as this group seems to be at least the equal of just about any band out there.
The album begins with a short introduction titled “Unto My Tempest”. The listener is immediately confronted with the prominence of Bowyer’s organ, which remains high in the mix throughout the entire album. But the instrument adds an immense gravity to the group’s overall sound. Never before has the instrument seemed to blend as effectively with the guitar and bass, the sum total of the instruments coming across as incredibly heavy.
“Davamesque B2” is the first proper track and kicks off with an oddly-timed riff before segueing into an epic doom section. Once again, Lychgate illustrate their uniqueness through the use of odd-time signatures. Vallely’s drum patterns are often quite busy, and always surprising. He would constitute a primary focus in a group that didn’t have so many other elements vying for attention. By the end of the track, Lychgate have proven to be such an unusual commodity there is no pressing “Stop” until the album’s journey is complete, if for no other reason than to see what comes next.
What little press seems to exist on the group tries to push them into the Doom category. And while that is certainly an important element of their sound, they often employ copious amounts of blast beats, particularly on “I Am Contempt”, which gives them a Black Metal feel as well. Guitarist S.D. Lindsley plays each style equally well, often shifting from Doom to Black Metal tremolo picking and following it up with serpentine progressive passages, before shifting into Deathspell Omega-esque arpeggios. Once again, another instrument is providing the listener with much content to digest.
The album continues on like this, each track adding another layer of experimentation and intrigue to an already colossal package. “Letter XIX” shows the band nailing a most unusual cadence to dramatic effect, an almost djent rhythm, if that wouldn’t be selling it far too short. “The Illness Named Imagination” sees the organ tap into a vein of Arcturus-inspired sounds, but only for a moment. “My Fate to Burn Forever” ends with softer organ work, while album closer “The Pinnacle Known to Sisyphus” sees Lychgate channeling a mix of Ulver and Candlemass, but set to the pulse of the progressive and challenging drum work of Vallely. Clean vocals take the lead role here, and once again it is the organ that pulls the piece to its resolution.
To say much more would probably belabor the point, particularly on an album already difficult to describe with words. Lychgate not only play a very challenging form of Metal, but succeed in giving the listener the visceral satisfaction of the most straightforward acts while adding obscene amounts of cerebral stimulation, inspired by the most avant-garde sources, Metal or otherwise. Anyone feeling they have heard all that Extreme Metal has to offer would do well to seek this album out, which is available digitally from Blood Music on Bandcamp on a donation basis, and as a 2-LP record.
Written by Allen Griffin.
Jedan od zapaženijih debija 2013. godine dobija ovog leta svoj nastavak. Kao jedan od onih bendova koji u sebi spaja godine iskustva prekaljenih muzičara, LYCHGATE su i tada delovali veoma uverljivo i snažno, a sada su nastavili ništa manje kvalitetnim i dobrim putem.
Na samom startu ovog diska primetna je razlika koja generalno odvaja ovo ostvarenje od prethodnog i jasno nam prikazuje smer kojim su ovaj put pošli. Orgulje su prešle u prvi plan i sada su baza za celokupnu muziku koju čujemo, tako da su ključni element duž celog albuma. Zvuk pomenutog instrumenta veoma je dobro umiksan i realizovan, a ovaj put za celokupno izvođenje bio je zadužen pijanista Kevin Bowyer, tako da je i kvalitet na impozantnom nivou. Prateći već pomenutu bazu, slojevi najrazličitije forme se nižu jedan na drugi i stvaraju kompoziciju na čijoj kompleksnosti bi pozavideli i bendovi sa dužim stažom u ovim simfonijskim vodama. Ipak, dvojac Chandler (Esoteric) i Vortigern (The One), maestralno je ukomponovao sve osmišljeno tako da je i konačan rezultat zaista vredan pažnje.
Slojevitost i raznolikost ovog materijala vodi vas kroz haotičnost u prvom delu ostvarenja do malo umerenijih delova u njegovoj drugoj polovini. Tada su i svi instrumenti dosta jasnije prikazani pa se u neku ruku stvara i malo čistija slika o onome što je ovde ukomponovano. S druge strane, prvopomenuti haotičniji deo prikazuje svu lepotu kompleksnih albuma poput ovog. Naprosto ne uspevate sve elemente i detalje isprva da prepoznate i registrujete već sve što je nekako sklopljeno u celinu odjednom vas obasipa i okružuje te i hermetički zatvara u u sferu koju „An Antidote for the Glass Pill“ gradi. S toga, jedini način da rezonujete sve detalje i elemente jeste da se materijalu vraćate što ovde i nije toliko lak zadatak. Dosta težak i naporan za slušanje, nije baš letnji materijal, tako da nemojte da vas začudi ako vam mnogo bolje legne tek tamo negde u poznu jesen negoli sada u avgustu kada bude izašao.
Veliko je zadovoljstvo čuti vokal Greg-a Chandler-a u jednoj potpuno drugačijoj formi u odnosu na ono što smo navikli da čujemo. Posebna je draž kada to bude ispraćemo kompleksnom muzikom koja nosi sa sobom težinu i kvalitet. Ovo nije jedan od onih albuma o kojima ćete slušati ili čitati na nekim od komercijalnijih sajtova, tako da se materijal za široke mase ni ne treba očekivati.
Written by Stefan Lazic.
(scroll for English translation below)
Постоянное развитие музыкальных жанров сегодня приводит к тому, что всё чаще новые релизы становятся в некотором роде экспериментальными. Кто-то движется вперёд, изобретая собственный стиль, другие стараются возродить классику ушедшего времени. Новая пластинка британских металлистов Lychgate одновременно представляет собой и тот и другой вариант."The Antidote For The Glass Pill" становится хорошим результатом искусной работы коллектива над звучанием. Это качественный альбом, который сохранил характерные черты блэк-метала, и в то же время получился весьма насыщенным, сборником мрачного, авангардного материала.
Если бы сегодня пришлось ответить на вопрос о самых атмосферных альбомах последних лет, непременно стоит упомянуть "The Antidote For The Glass Pill".
Звучание, в котором явно лидируют клавишные инструменты, становится своеобразной фишкой релиза. Вполне даже можно сказать, что орган, синтезатор — основные инструменты буквально в каждой из композиций. Для работы над альбомом были задействованы два клавишника, в их числе и органист Кевин Бойер. Музыканты, что крайне важно, использовали для записи настоящий орган, а не эффекты синтезатора, это существенно повлияло на полноту, и даже можно сказать "сочность" звука.
Резкий и весьма брутальный вокал Грега Чендлера добавляет тёмных красок в общую тематику зла и мистицизма. Аккомпанируют ему низкие и высокие клавишные ноты, а в куплетах, где привычней услышать задорный, тяжёлый гитарный ритм — первую позицию снова берут угрюмые партии органа.
Общая атмосфера, оформление пластинки создают картину призрачного блуждания в стенах заброшенного монастыря. Тёмные ритуалы, звон разрушенной колокольни, всё, чего так ждут поклонники. Настоящий симфоник/блэк-метал воскрешает в памяти легенды о призраках, героев кинокартин, которые обитали в старых замках, а это ещё один показатель содержания материала.
Постійний розвиток музичних жанрів сьогодні призводить до того, що все частіше нові релізи стають у певному сенсі експериментальними. Хтось рухається вперед, створюючи власний стиль, інші намагаються відродити класику минулого. Нова платівка британських металістів Lychgate одночасно представляє собою обидва варіанти. "The Antidote For The Glass Pill" є гарним результатом наполегливої роботи колективу над звучанням. Це якісний альбом, який зберіг характерні риси блек-металу, і в той же час виявився досить насиченою збіркою похмурого, авангардного матеріалу.
Якби сьогодні довелося дискутувати на тему найбільш атмосферних альбомів останніх років, неодмінно варто згадати "The Antidote For The Glass Pill". Звучання, в якому в першу чергу виділяються клавішні, стає своєрідною фішкою релізу. Цілком навіть можна сказати, що орган, синтезатор — основні інструменти буквально в кожній з композицій. Для роботи над альбомом були задіяні два клавішники, серед них — органіст Кевін Бойєр. Музиканти, що вкрай важливо, використовували для запису справжній орган, а не ефекти синтезатора, що суттєво вплинуло на повноту, і навіть можна сказати "соковитість" звуку.
Різкий і вельми брутальний вокал Грега Чендлера додає темних барв до загальної тематики зла і містицизму. Акомпанують йому низькі та високі клавішні ноти, а в куплетах, де звичніше почути завзятий, важкий гітарний ритм — першу позицію знову беруть похмурі партії органу.
Загальна атмосфера та оформлення платівки створюють картину примарного блукання у стінах покинутого монастиря. Темні ритуали, дзвін зруйнованої дзвіниці, все, чого так чекають шанувальники. Справжній симфонік/блек-метал, що оживляє у пам’яті легенди про привидів і героїв кінокартин, які мешкали в старих замках, а це ще один показник змістовності матеріалу.
Today’s constant development of musical genres leads more and more new releases to become experimental. Someone is moving forward, creating his own style, others are trying to revive the classics of the past. The new record of the British metallers Lychgate simultaneously represents both variants. "The Antidote For The Glass Pill" is a great outcome of the band’s hard work on their sound. This is the high-quality album that retains characteristics of black metal, and at the same time becomes a rich collection of gloomy, avant-garde material.
If today we were to discuss the albums with a great atmosphere, we would certainly need to mention "The Antidote For The Glass Pill". Leading keyboards sound becomes a kind of special feature of the CD. It is even possible to say that organ, synthesizer are just main tools in each of the tracks. The band worked on the album with two keyboard musicians and there is Kevin Bowyer among them as an organist. They used to record real organ, not a synthesizer effects and it significantly impacted the completeness of the sound.
Harsh, very rough vocals by Greg Chandler adds some dark colors to the overall theme of evil and mysticism. It is accompanied by low and high keyboard notes. The couplets, where we usually hear heavy guitar rhythm, are played again with gloomy organ parts.
The overall atmosphere, design of the album create a picture of a ghost wandering in the abandoned monastery. Dark rituals, ringing of the destroyed belfry, everything the fans are into. True symphonic/black metal resembles all those spooky legends, movies about old castles, and it is one more result of the material’s sapidity.
Written by Yuri Somov.
Pomalo nepravilno razmišljanje dovelo je do toga da jedan dio sluša metal glazbu samo zbog same glazbe, a drugi, manji dio, u to još ubaci i pomno praćenje uz tekstove i još k tome vučeći skrivena značenja zakamuflirana u nerijetko uvrnutim ilustracijama unutar knjižice albuma ili pak na samoj naslovnici.
Avantgardni prefiks je oduvijek bio zahtjevan zalogaj za pasivne konzumente ''običnih'' metalnih žanrova, a najčešće avantgardni oblik glazbe surađuje sa black metalom. Koliko god termin ''black metal'' nekima izgleda i zvuči preistraženo, upravo zahvaljujući avantgardi ovdje imamo gotovo nepresušan izvor inspiracije za sve bendove iz srodnih podžanrova koji se u tome žele i mogu okušati. Mnogo je imena u povijest black metala imalo prste u avantgardi poput Emperora, Arcturusa ili Esoterica, no ovaj puta imamo nešto stilski drugačije, a i dalje u najboljoj maniri predstavlja svu uvrnutost naizgled razbacanih glazbenih elemenata utrpanih u black metal koncept sa mnoštvo orguljastih detalja.
Britanski bend Lychgate su relativno novi na sceni, a od debitantskog albuma ih dijeli samo dvije godine, a ovogodišnji nasljednik će pokušati opravdati pozitivne kritike svojeg prethodnika. ''An Antidote For The Glass Pill'' je na trenutke veoma težak album, ali zato konceptualno vrlo inteligentno posložen vrveći od mnoštva pravih orguljastih kompozicija, uz neizbježne black metal detalje blastbeatanja i kriještećih grubih vokala. Poznatavatelji ovog stila su već upoznati sa jednim djelom postave, a radi se o pjevaču i gitarstu iz Esoterica, Gregu Chandleru, koji je ujedno i jedan od osnivača ovog benda početkom 2012. godine. Ono što će ovaj album svakako privući još veću pažnju je i gostujući član, poznati britanski orguljaš Kevin Bowyer čiji je talent svijetski priznat po mnogobrojnim vrlo zahtjevnim skladbama nastalih od strane mahom francuskih orguljaša.
Već kada govorimo o tematici vrijedi malo zornije objasniti o čemu se ovdje radi. Tematika zajedno sa glazbom kao da je proizašla iz psihijatrijske ustanove. Na neki način koncept nije daleko od toga, a radi se o pomno razrađenoj filozofiji kreiranoj od strane britanskog filozofa Jeremya Benthama čija konstrukcija i oblik zatvora nazvan Panopticon uvelike može objasniti djelić teme ovog albuma. Radi se psihološkom efektu posmatranja više individua u isto vrijeme što vuče metaforu negativnog efekta postmodernog doba na društvo i općenito psihologiju razmišljanja. Već pri samom čitanju napisanog imate dojam da će vam glava eksplodirati, a kada uz to kombinirate i uznemirujuće kompozicije predvođene orguljama i sablasnim gitarskim riffovima dobit ćete neopisivu atmosferu prave riječi avantagarde u simbiozi sa black metalom.
Tipični black metal elementi poput tremola ili blastbeatova su prisutni u nešto manjoj mjeri, a veći je naglasak stavljen na spomenute orgulje uz napomenu da klavijaturni segmenti nemaju ovdje gotovo nikakav direktni utjecaj na glazbu u cjelini. Glavnu nit vodilju zato ne čine gitare što ih čini pomalo netipičnim black metal bendom, no nema straha da će radi toga album zvučati manje agresivno ili možda manje metalno.
Duljina albuma i deset pametno posloženih pjesama nadovezuju se jedna na drugu i slažu kompletnu cjelinu priče na svoje mjesto. Svaki instrument ima svoj vrhunac u nekoj od pjesama, a kada sagledamo sve skupa u komadu vidimo kako Lychgate odmjereno imaju mnoge utjecaje iz raznih sfera medijskih kultura 20. stoljeća. Upravo radi toga nema smisla izdvajati niti jednu nego se prepustiti uživanju.
Ako želite upregnuti moždane stanice i od glazbe stvoriti novu dimenziju opuštanja, a još k tome nisu vam strane nesvakidašnje, a ujedno bogate harmonije svakojakih obskurnih zvukova ekspresionističkog horora, onda će vam Lychgate doći kao naručen. ''Netreniranom'' uhu ovo vrlo vjerojatno neće biti jako zanimljivo, stoga već u startu ovakvi bendovi imaju odabranu publiku i na turneji su nažalost podložni šlepanju sa ostalim sličnim bendovima ili nekom većem imenu. Zbog prirode žanra i zavidne kvalitete teško je ostati objektivan, no uvijek se može pokušati. Ukratko, smo za odabranu publiku.
Written by Darjan Koprivnikar.
Cuando la música te deja sin aliento, las palabras piden un descanso. Cuando la atmósfera que percibes en el aire no sólo fluctúa sino que toma posesión de tu imaginación —que es corrupta y a su vez pura—; entonces y sólo entonces, estarás enfrentado ante una situación que vale la pena vivir, escuchar, percibir... Es allí, donde la música deja de ser un simple canal perceptible para transmutar en un alimento capaz de nutrir los recuerdos sensoriales del hombre común. ¡Hombres comunes de gustos exquisitos! Ha llegado la hora de activar nuestra capacidad sensorial, será la única, la manera exclusiva de poder acaparar con nuestras papilas musicales todo el poderío que nos ofrece Lychgate en su más reciente obra ‘An Antidote For The Glass Pill’. ¿Estás dispuesto a tomar el antídoto? Las campanas de una noche aciaga nos invitan a ingresar en el retorcido panóptico creado por entes ingleses. Tan sólo basta tomar una decisión.
Primera parte —La decisión—. Lychgate o el porqué me he vuelto más loco de lo que soy. ‘An Antidote For The Glass Pill’ o la respuesta al porqué sigo guardando esperanza para una escena que de cuanto en cuanto se ve en estado de agonía (porque el Metal no ha muerto tan sólo agoniza). Esta banda inglesa cuenta en años lo que parece una experiencia dictada por milenios. Hace menos de dos eones lanzarían, lo que a nivel personal (y siento también) a nivel colectivo, marcaría una de las más grandes sorpresas de ese año, en cuanto a Black Metal se refiere, compitiendo de palmo a palmo con la irrevocable y magna obra de los franceses Aosoth y su bestia ‘IV - An Arrow In Heart’ (2013, Agonia Records). Lychgate posee un pasado, eso es cierto; posee una intención, una dirección musical, eso también es cierto. No obstante, con una propuesta musical como ésta, donde el Black Metal se convierte en anfitrión de atmósferas Doom, arreglos orquestales sumamente dinámicos y vanguardia descollante, la conclusión vira en la sencillez de las palabras. El embrujo está hecho. Continúo mi camino. Llueve. Observo diez celdas, un panóptico en el centro con una cabeza en gris y un ojo circundante, aquella esencia posa la mirada sobre mi alma. He quedado inmóvil; se escucha el órgano de tubos, pianos disímiles… K.J. Bowyer, excelso músico y compositor clásico, y F.A. Young, terrorista permanente, inician con el rito de mi posesión.
Segunda parte —Principio de aislamiento en territorio desconocido—. Bajo mi inmovilidad, puedo percibir algo en el ambiente, las celdas colapsan y sus habitantes vuelan alrededor del gran panóptico; la gran esencia de la visión apaga sus intenciones. Los habitantes rodean mi curiosidad, actúan y se revelan ante la imaginación. Aquellos entes se presentan como falansterios individuales e incorruptibles —por lo cual Charles Fourier está celebrando en la octava estrella de su utopía fantasmagórica—. Cada uno posee el designio de un nombre, cada uno irradia un poderío capaz de invocar al unísono fuerzas oníricas de cincuenta minutos. Me siento vivo, me siento muerto, siento que mi cuerpo ya no existe; el alma es libre, ha descubierto que la carne es el sepulto. Mientras tanto, los habitantes me susurran al oído, percibo el trabajo impecable de T.J.F. Vallely en la percusión, su inteligencia, su galope calculado abre el abanico para escuchar al maestro Chandler y sus influencias esotéricas, puestas en ritmos que superan la vertiginosidad para convertirse en carne magra donde el Doom sirve de capa y escudo a un Black Metal controlado. La figura del órgano y los pianos emergen, Vortigern apuñala mis creencias de que un sólo hombre no es capaz de nada; su talento en todo aspecto se despliega, sus composiciones no tienen explicación. La música como elemento inexplicable. Vuelvo a mí, descubro que las diez celdas tienen vida por sí mismas pero que no pueden vivir separadas; cada una demuestra que es un eslabón para que el gran panóptico, cimentado en la esencia de un LP como ‘An Antidote For The Glass Pill’, sea eterno y se convierta en una construcción legendaria.
Tercera parte —Pensamiento pitagórico o cómo se concibe a una bestia— El territorio desconocido se esfuma de a poco, quiero permanecer en él, sin embargo, hay que volver a la realidad —o bueno—, al mundo que mi conciencia quiere que vea. A nivel personal, y de manera modesta y humilde, concluyo que Lychgate ni siquiera ha pensado en el alcance que puede llegar a tener su segundo álbum de estudio. ‘An Antidote For The Glass Pill’ ha sido todo un viaje que me ha ayudado a descubrir que el Metal extremo no tiene límites compositivos. Su producción y grabación se han convertido en todo un reto imaginario ya que todo se escucha tan cohesivo y expresionista que me es difícil de creer. Después de una decena de escuchas empiezas a percibir su tacto, sientes los grisáceos de su artwork, su mirada perdida, la esencia pura. En resumidas cuentas, Vortigern, Chandler & Co. han logrado uno de los mejores discos de extremidad pura en lo que al nuevo siglo respecta. Tomarán años para desenmascarar la estructura de este disco; su excelsa mezcla, sus tonos en las cuerdas acomodados a una idea, una voz que es melancólica, bestial pero inclusive bella y una percusión que roza la locura matemática. Lychgate ha logrado invadir una cavidad donde antiguamente habitaba un corazón.
Written by Pablo Parra.
Una materia oscura se avecina desde aquel horizonte, donde tambien se pueden escuchar truenos a lo lejos. Lychgate, un proyecto que desde el día que se fundó, fue destinado a producir sonidos capaces de transportarnos a una realidad en donde nuestras peores sensaciones y pesadillas se hicieran realidad. O tambien, transportarnos a un lugar en donde podemos presenciar una imagen post apocalíptica, una ciudad dominada por energías negativas y con un aspecto grotesco y tenebroso.
En el año 2013, Lychgate nos enseño su primer trabajo homónimo, Lychgate, que en resumidas palabras, se trata de una obra magistral colmada de atmósferas tétricas, épicas y malsanas. Una especie de tornado de nubes negras que destruye todo a su paso, mientras que en el viento se pueden oír gritos de desesperación y horror. Pero en este año 2015, la banda decidió dar un salto enorme con su segundo trabajo titulado An Antidote for the Glass Pill. Este disco es atronador, experimental y caótico. Las canciones son una especie de tormenta melódica y experimental. En este disco, Greg decide darle mas poder a las voces, logrando un trabajo fascinante, ya que en momentos si llega a darte cierta impresión y nerviosismo el sonido de su voz, aunque es raro escucharlo recitar en voz limpia.
La primera canción titulada Unto My Tempest, hace una introducción misteriosa hasta que en cierto punto da comienzo al espectáculo, un espectáculo que ya te hace tener una idea de lo que se avecina. Davamesque B2 es la pieza que continua, en donde notamos como la música se vuelve hipnótica y al mismo tiempo desconcertante. La tercera cancion I Am Contempt, ya te descoloca desde el principio, ya sea por su naturaleza rara o por su desmadrada agresividad repentina. Hasta este punto, se habrán dado cuenta de la importancia que le dan al órgano de iglesia, ya que con la canción A Principle On Seclusion, hacen un notable entrada con dicho órgano para luego comenzar con el torbellino destructor.
Letter XIX marca el inicio de la segunda mitad del disco y créeme que la pesadilla se vuelve a peor. Si creías que ya habías escuchado algo muy raro, este tema te hace replantear algo que es obvio. Justo cuando creías que esto no podía volverse mas espeluznante y extraño, pasa justamente eso. Deus te Videt es una pieza que engrandece ese esencia caótica e hipnótica, es como si un espectro con mantas oscuras resurgiera en nuestra mente mientras observamos como el mundo se mueve a una velocidad indescriptible. El disco continua con el tema The Illness Named Imagination, que nos ofrece otra gran introducción con el órgano, creando ese ambiente bizarro por excelencia en esta obra. La ira desenfrenada no tarda en hacerse notar en la pista que por momentos hace una pausa para dar paso a interludios atmosféricos.
An Acousmatic Guardian es otra pieza caracterizada para la necesidad de explorar cada milímetro de los milímetros que abarca ciertos recursos, ya sea de riffs, de secciones raras o sincopadas e incluso de la atmósfera que utilizan a lo largo de la obra. My Fate to Burn Forever es la canción que prosigue, mostrando la posible obsesión de los integrantes de Lychgate con el órgano. En esta pieza se puede apreciar una guitarra mucho mas elaborada comparada con las demás canciones, incluso el trabajo de la batería llega a resonar de forma impresionante por semejante complejidad y descarnada bravura. Y al final de la tormenta, se acerca una pieza ambiental llevada de una batería contundente y un ambiente desolador junto a la voz limpia de Greg, se trata de The Pinnacle Known to Sisyphus, la canción que se encarga de dar por finalizado a esta caótica y osada obra maestra.
En definitiva, Lychgate a conseguido convertirse en toda una revelación. An Antidote for the Glass Pill es una obra que dentro de poco causara una gran controversia debido a lo increíblemente único que es, donde nos damos cuenta que muy probablemente sea un trabajo adelantado a nuestro tiempo.
Written by Juan Pablo Aguirre.
Ne è passata di acqua sotto i ponti da quando il metal veniva considerato il cugino ottuso, scapestrato, e per molti versi reazionario, del rock colto. Uno dei sotto-generi che ha smentito con forza questa vecchia e superata prospettiva è quello dell’avantgarde-metal. Dopo un’esplosione multiforme, in primis nell’alveo sperimentale del black metal norvegese (Ulver, Thorns, Arcturus, Dødheimsgard), il fervore avant si era un po’ sopito: d’altro canto non è facile sposare individualità, eclettismo e classe; più semplice utilizzare formule già in esistenza. I britannici Lychgate, dopo un notevole eponimo debutto (2013) con un black metal atmosferico che già presentava soluzioni inusuali, con questo ritorno cambiano pelle per trasformarsi in un vero e proprio mostro avant-black metal. Concettualmente ispirato all’attualissimo concetto di Panopticon, attraverso il talento di VORTIGERN e Greg Chandler (Esoteric), il lavoro raggiunge livelli compositivi realmente stellari. Contro un cupo scenario da Inghilterra fine XVIII secolo, sinistro ed allucinatorio, un possente organo da chiesa figura in primissimo piano: le tinte forti sono altamente cinematografiche, e gli elementi dissonanti creano un pathos stordente. Con influenze vintage omaggianti Goblin, Morricone, Devil Doll, Nocturnus e maestri quali Bach e Liszt, si tratta di UN RARISSIMO ALBUM SENZA TEMPO.
Written by Mystery Flame.
When you release Lychgate’s sophomore album, you blend a stench of apocalyptic doom, death squalls and tonsillitis-infected lyrical evil that burns a barbiturate-induced pleasure principle through funerary odes.
The album is designed like a web. They don’t follow standard paths and lead you into a den with the hopes of getting lost into their haunted house so that you give in and play into their peer pressure. The Phantom of the Opera organ blends a symphonic darkness that half borders on tongue and cheek while the other is perfect aesthetic to a pseudo-symphonic metal you will find fascinating.
Wrapped in a shroud of dark purple velvet and a Dr. Phibes grin, “I Am Contempt” is the scars of a society that has drug us into the sludge of human depravity. “A Principle on Seclusion” unleashes a side of this band that pushes their integrity even further. Spun by the glow of torches and guitars that borderline noisecore torture that offsets the creepiness of the pipe organs echoing through the gallows.
“The Illness Named Imagination” spins a web of doom metal that is gloriously catastrophous while while “An Acousmatic Garden” feels like the band hijacked a Carcass album and tried to one up them. An Antidote for the Glass Pill is an album you are not immediately clear what effects it will have on you, but patience brings out every great element and glorious that makes Lychgate as lurid as a crazed maniac running wild on the street. You will not walk away the same as you entered.
Written by Andrew Duncan.
A due anni dal’omonimo album di debutto, i Lychgate (guidati dalle voci di G. A. Chandler e Vortigern) sono tornati con un nuovo album. Si intitola An Antidote For The Glass Pill ed è uscito il 18 Agosto via Blood Music. Il debutto aveva messo in mostra la capacità della band di plasmare il concetto di black metal con contaminazioni di vario tipo: dall’approccio sinfonico (evidenti di “Unto my Tempest“) alle linee prog (riscontrabili in “A Principle on Seclusion“) e cosi via. La cosa che stupì maggiormente fu soprattutto la presenza di fili e struttura narrativa che reggeva l’album. Questo aspetto è accentuato (in ottica positiva) nel nuovo lavoro: un concept album su una teorica prigione del diciottesimo secolo come metafora degli effetti dell’eta post-moderna sulla società e la psicologia. Le sonorità si concentrano su linee incendiarie (pensate alla progressione di “I Am Contempt“), una potenza controllata ma devastante (“An Acousmatic Guardian“) con ritmi cangianti e con direzioni imprevedibili (“The Illness Named Imagination” e “My Fate to Burn Forever“). Mood naturalmente nebbioso (la tensione di Deus te Videt“) con una ricerca continua del giusto assetto per materializzare il racconto. C’è spazio naturalmente anche per dilatazioni graffianti che assecondano le struggenti interpretazioni vocali come avviene in “Davamesque B2“. “Letter XIX” è probabilmente il miglior pezzo dell’album e quello che spiega al meglio il pragmatismo e tutte le altre caratteristiche della band sin ora elencate. I Lychgate riescono a confermare il tratto distintivo che ha caratterizzato il debutto con un aspetto quasi cinematografico che veicola una potenza e un mood non fini a se stessi. Ottima conferma.
Written by Nicola Orlandino.
The rise of what is to become an omnipresent entity; of genius and consuming madness.
Let me start with a foreword. This year has been exceptional because I have been honored to follow the development of a massive manifestation of evolvement and progress in what many old-fashioned folks claim that is “dead” for a long time. Black metal has reached another level of supremacy that is far beyond the surface and it transformed in what could serve as a source of invaluable knowledge and inspiration for people willing to lose the shackles of ignorance and expand their mindset. Allow me to take you on a journey behind “reality’s” curtains where post-modern society is nothing more than a pure experiment.
Lychgate is an obscure entity from the UK, which has been conceived in 2011 and I’ve been invited to subject their sophomore album “An Antidote for the Glass Pill” to an analysis; a release of renowned record label Blood Music. I have got to admit that this was quite a challenge for me that I faced with arms spread open wide for this creation is far from anything that I listen on an everyday basis. With their new album, Lychgate marked a turning point not only in their musical career but also as becoming a vital element in pushing further the state of underground black metal. If I say that this is one of the most avant-garde records written ever, I will be wrong because it is more than that. It is genial, complex and moreover, it can freak the hell out of you. If you think you know what madness and evil sound, you are about to get struck and change your perspective. It may take some time, though..
“An Antidote for the Glass Pill” is not an easy to digest album. It breaks away from the traditional black metal formula that many artists still feed their vision on. That’s why it feels so experimental, from time to time chaotic and probably not making sense. However, you need to believe me that every single bit of this album has its own purpose and contributes for the overall evil omnipresence matching the unlikely-to-meet concept that reflects genially constructed and mind shattering compositions. First, Lychgate is one of the rare bands that includes a professional organist whose presence is evident throughout the whole album and basically evokes that deeply disturbing atmosphere that will redefine your your perception of madness and fear. Secondly, “An Antidote for the Glass Pill” features a unique concept theme that refers to things more evil than Satan (sorry guys) and taken from what I believe to be happening in present days of our lives – a silent war for subduing society through mind control.
Concept-wise, Lychgate introduced in their new album a theme based on Bentham’s theoretical prison construction dating back to the 18th century. One specific term found in it is “Panopticon”, which is an institution where its inmates are unable to tell whether or not they are observed. As Betham described himself Panopticon is “a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example.” Further inspiration has been drawn from Zamyatin’ novel “We” as well as Witkiewicz’s “Insatiability”, both sharing an understanding of a dystopian framework that serves as a brainwashing machine. The title of the album is named after both of the novels, referring to the glass architecture allegory of the future (the transparent state in “We”) and of the consumption of the degenerative “Davamesque B2″ pill (in “Insatiability”), respectively.
Merging the overwhelming concept and the masterful instrumentalism of Lychgate, “An Antidote for the Glass Pill” is genuinely a masterpiece in every level of its highly compound structure. Just take a listen to the uncommon arrangements that will strike you not every minute but every second! It’s impossible to predict what’s next until you experience every bit over and over again. Its profound storytelling and consuming compositions will get you behind the “Panopticonian” gates, and you will face a world shrouded in mysteries that are better to stay unsolved.
Contrary to the theme, “An Antidote for the Glass Pill” is an eye-opener, in my humble opinion. It not only makes you reflect on the current state of reality but also expands your knowledge in extreme metal to lengths that are still obscure to many fans. There’s nothing better than tasting the ultimate flavor of an excellent blend of knowledge and art. Last but definitely not the least, connoisseur of high quality artwork, packaging and sound will get obsessed with it and agree with me that this album is not only one of the highlights of 2015 but also in history of black metal.
Written by Lyubomir Lifelover Spirov.
A “Lychgate” is a gateway covered with a roof found at the entrance to a traditional English or English-style churchyard and also a very entertaining ritualistic styled avant-garde black doom metal group from The UK. Lychgate takes a much different approach to song composition and each track on “An Antidote for a Glass Pill” is unique from each other. Vocally Chandler’s cadence and delivery is reminiscent of Silenius from the Austrian Black Metal group Abigor and being that he is from British doomsters Esoteric, it is no surprise that there is such power in the vocal performance and overall sound of this album.
An Antidote for the Glass Pill opens with “Unto My Tempest” which does a great job of setting the tone for this near fifty-minute effort. The use of Organ throughout the entire album is prevalent and for the most part works very well with the overall composition of the song structures. Lychgate’s approach to Avant Garde Black Metal is well throughout and at times there is a Jazz/Progressive feel throughout. “Davamesque B2” opens up much that way with strong guitar lines with the key parts following along.
Citing influences like My Dying Bride, Esoteric, Morbid Angel and Radiohead, you can definitely say that Lychgate is the true definition of Avant Garde in terms of the way each track on An Antidote For The Glass Pill seems to show well thought out progressions that blend all of these components together creating a unique sound that really stand apart from other groups within this sub-genre. Lychgate does an amazing job of blending that with strong classical influences from the likes of Bach, Shostakovich, and Liszt. The Use of Pipe Organ is used almost as lead instrument and overall An Antidote For The Glass Pill is one of the surprising winning records of 2015.
For those looking for a unique approach to atmospheric Black Doom, Lychgate is a group for you. An Antidote for the glass Pill is an album to be remembered and I am excited to watch Lychgate to continue to evolve in their song structures and the overall passion of this group is definitely there and makes for an enjoyable listen. Check this one out for sure!
Written by Nick K.
Doom-laden black metal and sinister classicism combine in a terrifying fashion here, bringing about a grand-guignol soundtrack of horror that knows no bounds. It's not surprising that Lychgate, with their second album, have expanded things in such a nerve shredding fashion considering they have members of Esoteric, Macabre Omen, Ancient Ascendant and The One amidst their ranks.
Exploring arcane paths based narratively around Bentham's theoretical prison construction from the eighteenth century, the Panopticon, this is a heady, devilish treat in every sense. One of the main weapons utilised in making it so utterly demonic is the austere organ work of Kevin Boyer at its backbone, the overall effect reminiscent of both Bach and work done by Keith Emerson and Goblin on Michele Soavi's 'The Church'.
It's a place where no light penetrates even as the band put progressive parts and Solefald-esque vocals into its midst. Things never stand still for a second, moving from one schizophrenic mass of madness to the next with Greg Chandler's gibbering vocal parts accentuating things with possessed intent. The baroque blackness swarms with all-consuming tightness around battering surges of hefty drumming as ghostly voices ominously chant, and a grandfather clock strikes and attack the senses with a foulness that sounds like it is being performed in a towering deconsecrated cathedral. This really gets the imagination flowing and the atmosphere is palpable every hideous step of the way. 'An Antidote...' is a true magnum opus for those that are prepared to confront the horror at its bloody beating heart.
Written by Pete Woods.
THE SUM OF THEIR PARTS
What the members of Lychgate do when they're not making intense, progressive black metal:
Lychgate head honcho Vortigern also drums for the furious filthy The One, razor sharp black metal in the vein of Inquisition.
Vocalist/guitarist Greg Chandler is most well known for his work with these funeral doom titans, whose contributions to the genre are pretty damn vast.
Percussionist Tom Vallely provides drums for Macabre Omen too, epic, windswept black metal that's a must for fans of 'Hammerheart'-era Bathory.
Tom plays all the instruments in Omega Centauri, a more twisted, atmospheric affair for fans of Blut Aus Nord, Deathspell Omega, etc.
Since you might not be familiar with London’s Lychgate, let me first do the pleasure of introducing them to you. Even though the scribes over at Metal Archives consider these gentlemen to be merely another black metal act, it would seem to me as if someone’s just gotten lazy and decided to throw the base genre in; rather than denoting all of their elements. We’ll not get to that now, but when you factor in that these gentlemen are indeed comprised of current members of Esoteric, Macabre Omen and Ancient Ascendant among several others; it soon becomes readily apparent as to what kind of atmosphere you’re going to get from An Antidote For The Glass Pill.
After a slight organ-laden introduction in “Unto My Tempest″ the vein of avant-garde and slightly forlorn textures truly seem to describe that which is much more than ordinary black metal. Harsh vocals emanate from Vortigern which also take a bit of a theatrical note, making the disc seem somewhat like that of a stage performance. The band also features two pianists (Vortigern, when he’s not playing the guitar and F. A. Young respectively) as well as an organist (K. J. Bower) so there’s no real sign of keyboards anywhere within the recording, even though it may seem as such. Alas, everything is performed au natural and sounds all the better for it. When the album truly begins, it’s with that of its longest number “Davamesque B2″ which seems to head as far into the realms of Gothicism that it almost feels as though I’m listening to the soundtrack from The Phantom Of The Opera. Hence the material here is heavily based on a dystopian concept which you would surely find more intrigue in researching for yourself, so I will leave you to that as I instead focus on the next cut, “I Am Contempt″ which features Greg Chandler’s gravelly growls in addition to Vortigern’s scowls, making for a sort of operatic black and death metal production that is draped in experimental atmospheres, some of which deviate from the realms of metal entirely. But that doesn’t serve to make them any less worth hearing – rather it shows that Lychgate offer far more than can be communicated by means of metal alone.
“A Principle Of Seclusion″ simply builds on that, slightly bringing up the “Castlevania” effect as I might term in, yet building that with thick dirges of doom and an equally thick vocal growl that seems to have not been used enough in favor of the scowls. But I can understand why Chandler would feel the need to differentiate his work here from that of Esoteric and can understand the decision not to pump pounds of concrete into the mix. We’ll still hear some utilized in “Deus Te Videt″ (as well as some extravagant ICS-Vortex/Garm inspired clean lines, which you will hear in other areas scattered throughout the album) but they’re not quite as prominent, giving the material more of a black metal texture. Though to be honest, I feel that Lychgate are more of an experimental or avant-garde type of “extreme gothic metal” if you will. And yes, that more than likely has as much an influence in My Dying Bride as it does in Cradle Of Filth. So whether or not you’ve ever liked Dani Filth’s vocals in that act, you should at least realize that they have definitely paved the way for many other English gothic and operatic acts as well as those of this style in other countries.
That being said, Lychgate has definitely left their mark on the style with this record, which is brilliantly executed and most certainly worth your while. It’s undoubtedly a perfect mixture of all things gothic, coupled with a fair share of theatrics and a hefty dosage of atmospheric soundscape. An Antidote For The Glass Pill is an evolution in the realms of extreme gothic metal if I’ve ever heard one, and The Grim Tower highly recommends it. There’s nothing else quite like it, even considering the realm of its influences. People will be talking about this masterpiece for several years to come. Simply remarkable.
Written by Eric May.
If it were possible to blend together Solefald, Diabolical Masquerade, Dødheimsgard, Mirrorthrone, and a bunch of other whacky, off the wall black metal bands, I don't know exactly what it would sound like but it might sound a little like the delightfully bizarre second album from Lychgate, An Antidote for the Glass Pill.
Lychgate are one of the few acts to deliver on the promise of integrating classical music into heavy metal. Equal parts confounding and exhilarating, An Antidote for the Glass Pill is an unsettling ride that is made all the more enjoyable by flying about as close as possible to the sun that is circus music without burning themselves in the process.
Dozens of listens in, I’m still baffled by what it is that I’m listening to, and therein lies the challenge and the excitement.
Written by Michael O'Brien.
Let your mind be shattered and your nightmares become unto reality; Lychgate‘s sophomore full length album, An Antidote For The Glass Pill, is not your dad’s black metal. Darkthrone‘s influence is only vaguely felt; instead, it’s replaced with an looming sense of doom and dread, combined with a madness rarely seen in music at all.
Lychgate’s first album, a self titled effort, was doomy and had an air of potential about it. On this new record that potential is realised; rivaling last year’s Thantifaxath for Most Insanity Inducing Music, An Antidote For The Glass Pill is presented like a gothic horror movie soundtrack with blast beats. The use of church organs is especially excellent, adding an air of decayed grandeur to the music. The guitars and organs often meld into one sound, twisted and deceptive.
The song structure makes for a wild ride: sometimes it seems almost as though the music is about to come apart, moving too erratically for its own good – but ultimately it resolves into glorious darkness.
An Antidote For The Glass Pill is a dark, twisted, psychotic, mind-flaying album; one that perhaps only barely qualifies as black metal. It’s a sonic journey through the darkest depths of the human psyche; a labyrinthine quest into the uttermost reaches of sanity and insanity – and one of the finest works of this year.
Written by Kevin.
The band Lychgate from London, grew out of Archaicus, which was active untill 2012. In 2015 the follow-up to 2012’s self-titled debut comes out in a fog of mystery, titled An Antidote For The Glass Pill.
The Brits have made an album that can be considered a daring step away from their grim and distorted debut from 2012, into something much more oriented on the classic and gothic feel. If you plan to listen to it, let go of your black metal expectations. Don’t worry, you won’t have to embrace your inner goth girl either. This album is still a force to be reckoned with.
After a brief intro of buzzing static, the keys kick off with a run of tones that reminds, me as a listener, of the video game Super Ghost ‘n Ghouls, which had this amazing midi-keyboard music. The intro is called Upon My Tempest. The tones of majestic doom are promising much more for this record. Moving into Davamesque B2, it’s easy to notice that the guitars have moved to the background in the sound of these Londoners. It’s a symphonic, rhythm driven baptising into bleak, murky depths. Offering a haunting soundscape with some fierce bursts, this is something different. I Am Contempt has a heavy, wobbling opening, where the organ is played by what must be a clerical mad man. Using this as a guitar creates something that could approach the mad piping sounds so often described by H.P. Lovecraft.
The eerie introducing notes of Letter XIX are accompanied by a deep and foreboding bass sound. The dense atmosphere is like a thick layer of fog over a Victorian London in the days of Jack The Ripper. That is the vibe you get in general from Lychgate, it connects the classic with the new in a fascinating way. A warmer sound can be heard on the track Deus te Videt, with a twirling key section and epic marching rhythm. The song unfolds into big, operatic vocals, soaring high above the static music that remains meandering on the same line, another surprising tune that then suddenly launches into ferocious blast beats. When the track suddenly fades out, the ticking of a clock and giggling is all that can be heard.
An Acousmatic Guardian is an eclectic track full of noisy black metal and gothic keys that create a mesmerizing and dazzling sonic display. Switching between chaotic and minimal with haunting melodies and gritty distortion, the band keeps up their intriguing style. All the elements of black metal are still in there, though sometimes hidden. After another explosive track in the shape of My Fate To Burn Forever, the album enters its outro The Pinnacle Known To Sisyphus, which once more demonstrates the almost church-like atmosphere this band creates. An epic and glorious feeling is woven into the music, creating something unique and bewitching.
Black metal is a genre full of polarities. On the one hand it’s mighty progressive, on the other extremely fundamentalist. If you are on the second end, don’t bother with this. I’ve not heard something like this before and I recommend it to any open minded listener.
Written by Guido Segers.
“Freedom and happiness are incompatible: men are congenitally incapable of using their freedom for constructive ends and merely make themselves miserable by their abuse of it; most of them yearn for a materialistic happiness and are eager to surrender their troublesome freedom and to be reduced to the status of lotus-eaters” (Rudy, 1959).
Lychgate crafted ‘The Antidote for the Glass Pill’ with similar notions in mind, in fact the above quote forms part of the introduction to ‘We’ a Zamyatin novel set in an urban glass city regulated by spies and secret police, a concept alongside the 18th Century Panopticon and a novel on brainwashing hallucinogens by Witkiewicz.
Lychgate wrote ‘The Antidote for the Glass Pill’ over an exhausting two year period, and from the above storylines you can understand why. The sophomore album is one of the most harrowing experiences you will endure in 2015. At 50 minutes long, the album is a meeting of two worlds where traditional musical structures, sounds and theory clash head on with the future. What does this mean? – in essence its the sound of church organs colliding with modern avante grade black metal in a very dark and uncomfortable space.
A lack of freedom is a very good statement to make about the atmosphere that radiates from this record, the density of the guitars and the hypnotic rhythmic drumming traps the listener beneath the ceiling of vocals, while the ever present organs create the feeling that you are being chased from reality. Its a frightening feeling, and also an extremely unique take on black metal.
The organs played by K. J. Bowyer were used sparingly on Lychgates debut album, however have been expanded to full affect on each track here, but used in varying ways, at times giving off a carnival like effect on ‘I am Contempt’ while haunting and vintage at others on ‘The Illness Named Imagination’
‘Unto my Tempest’ is a horror filled introductory track full of church bells, organs, eery samples and a stark doom riff, essentially Lychgate are almost daring you to enter into the abyss, tempting you into captivity. ‘Davamesque B2’ is as uncomfortable as it is absorbing, with a backwards off kilter riff that invades the psyche while ‘A Principle on Seclusion’ is a slow lonely number with a funeral doom aesthetic. Each track takes you on a journey, many with mesmerising twists and turns, all climaxing in different ways.
Cleaner vocals appear on ‘Deus te Videt’ and ‘The Illness Named Imagination’, this adds a nice texture to the mix that was just starting to appear stale. The bass work is incredible here, while deep in the mix it appears to cast a shadow over the structures rather than appearing in isolation. The production leaves a little to be desired, and while it adds to the damp atmosphere, it can sound blunt at times. The organs appear on every track, and later accompanied by piano on ‘An Acoustic Guardian’ which can take some time to get used to, they are an instrument that is seldom used in metal, if not ever to this extent; so be prepared.
Lychgate have laid the foundations for a sound that could take metal, in particular black metal into a whole different realm. Its exciting, challenging and historic. ‘The Antidote for the Glass Pill’ is a contender for extreme album of the year.
Written by Quinton Farrow.
There are bands that crave media attention and then there are bands that don't. Those that do aren't in it for the music and those that don't are the musicians that exude integrity and artistry. Lychgate falls withing that latter field (at least that's what I perceive anyway) and with minimal fanfare, they've released their second full-length via Blood Music. This follows their debut self-titled record from 2013 (released via Mordgrimm and Gilead Media) and they've gained a guitarist in the lead-up to An Antidote For The Glass Pill.
This may be one of the last UK black metal releases I get round to reviewing in 2015, but I think I’ve left the best till last. I’m teetering towards the avant-garde end of the genre of late and on hearing the organ during opener Unto My Tempest, I know I’m not going to be disappointed by this record. That was merely a hint of what’s to come on An Antidote…though and Davamesque B2 is as orchestral and grand as you’d expect.
Gathering together the doom-laden past of it’s various members, Lychgate puts together an album far removed from it’s traditional black metal core. There’s no low-fi production of atonal melody here, while the production is warm and vibrant throughout. The second half of Davamesque B2 is made up of gloriously jazzy instrumentation too. They switch to a higher tempo on I Am Contempt. It aptly describes the mood of the band but the song itself never feels unapproachable. The slower segue of A Principle On Seclusion is mainly instrumental and is extremely cinematic to these ears. It’s various movements flow like an ancient symphony. Letter XIX could be at home starring on the soundtrack of a spy/mystery thriller, especially with that introduction. This song sums up the level of Lychgate’s experimentation on An Antidote… perfectly. There’s no need to go all speed-wise but the switches between mournful organ-led passages and heavy black metal are effortless and the song seems to gain in extremity.
Clean singing/chanting makes i’s first appearance during Deus Te Videt and adds another dimension to Lychgate’s sound. It’s a pleasing one too, as it nestles just beneath the guitars and percussion. The level of textures and layers that Lychgate fits into The Illness Named Imagination’s sub 5-minute form is very impressive and the same can be said for the rest of the album. There are many bands that try and fail to match this level of details after years of trying. An Acousmatic Guardian is not a acoustic version of their black metal sadly and it follows the same bewildering blueprint as what’s come before it.
The thing that strikes me with An Antidote… is that none of these songs are too long or drawn out. They fit together as one whole and as separate parts. My Fate To Burn Forever is an almost virtuoso-level piece. An Antidote… never reaches tipping point and as it ends with The Pinnacle Known To Sisyphus, like me you’ll be left with the indelible imprint made by an immense body of work. Lychgate has definitely stepped it up following their debut record and by some margin. If not listened to or purchased this record yet, what are waiting for!
Written by James Williams.
Lychgate are the kind of band who help me to remember what I loved so much about black metal in the first place. Though they are distinctly epic, there is also a wonderfully fucked up vibe to the music that helps to keep things interesting. An Antidote for the Glass Pill is profoundly twisted and will leave you picking at the rotting flesh exposed by this ungodly sound. The chaotic and overwhelming might of what Lychgate are doing on this record defies words.
That being said, it can be argued that An Antidote for the Glass Pill is at times overly ambitious and a bit too far reaching. Yet a lot of this seems to be due to crowded sounding production. Of course, this also indicates just how god damn good this band can be. The wealth of technically complex and melodically delicious lines found throughout An Antidote for the Glass Pill is stunning and makes me wonder how much more this band has to evolve. The potential here is palatable and you can easily tell that Lychgate are on the verge of something great. In fact I might even argue that An Antidote for the Glass Pill is the band making serious headway on a triumphant sonic journey.
Am I over-romanticizing another black metal band with just a few releases out? Probably. But I will say this, I do genuinely feel that Lychgate have a fairly distinct sound, and the way that their guitar lines simply feel epic is marvelous. The cinematic qualities to An Antidote for the Glass Pill are nearly omnipresent and help to establish the band as legends-in-the-making. As they continue to evolve their sound and make better use of their resources I can only see great things happening in years to come.
Written by Matt B.
Lychgate présente, avec An Antidote for the Glass Pill, son second album longue durée. Officiant dans un BM plutôt expérimental – disons qui sort clairement des sentiers battus – et comprenant en son sein un certain Greg Chandler des mythiques (mystiques) Esoteric (ceci explique cela), An Antidote for the Glass Pill constitue une pièce de choix.
L’intro à l’orgue mêlée de grosses guitares d’"Unto my Tempest" donne le ton. Remarquable, elle offre à ce premier titre une puissance qui ne se démentira pas tout au long de l’album. Une patte racée également, où l’influence Esoteric est évidemment proche mais pas que. Car si l’ambiance doom (sons de cloches, atmosphères menaçantes) est tout à la fois cléricale et proprement inquiétante, Lychgate développe également ses propres structures, originales, déstructurées ("Davamesque B2" par exemple avec un pont surprenant fait d’accélération et de violon « fou »). Inévitablement, le chant comme certains phrasés rappellent fortement Esoteric, la vitesse de progression également comme la structure même de certains titres ("Davamesque B2" en partie). Mais ce qui domine au-delà de cette influence, c’est la volonté affichée de proposer des structures progressives dont la maîtrise est, à ce titre, tout à fait remarquable ("I’m Contempt", qui fait parfois penser à certains titres d’Arcturus). Ou encore des ambiances théâtrales (l’intro d’"I’m Contempt", comme un vieux film d’horreur ; "Letter XIX" ; "The Illness Named Imagination") qui posent une atmosphère originale.
Car Lychgate ne sombre jamais dans la facilité, ce qui peut décourager les amateurs de musique plus accessible. Les cassures sont nombreuses ("Letter XIX" où les breaks atmosphériques succèdent aux accélérations), les ponts aussi (le formidable pont au piano et à l’orgue sur "An Acousmatic Guardian"). Loin d’aérer la musique, ils l’enrichissent, lui permettent de se mouvoir et de rebondir en laissant peu de répit à l’auditeur. Les structures sont très chargées en informations alors que l’ambiance est très prenante, l’émotion dominant souvent l’architecture des morceaux ("A Principle on Seclusion" par exemple, qui n’aurait pas dénoté sur un album d’Esoteric ; idem sur "My Fate to burn Forever"). L’absence de ligne conductrice évidente des titres peut également constituer un handicap ; pour ma part, il révèle simplement une science marquée de la composition. Car le tout s’emboîte parfaitement (l’arrivée de l’orgue surpuissant sur "A Principle on Seclusion", tout en naturel alors qu’il tranche littéralement le morceau et accompagne sa structure).
La durée des titres, relativement importante, n’est pas un obstacle. Elle offre au groupe de développer son propos, de laisser parler ses circonvolutions car, de fait, ce sont vraiment des arabesques mises en musique que l’on retrouve sur cet album. Des ornementations sonores haut de gamme aussi bien aériennes (le départ de "The Illness Named Imagination" et ses passages à l’orgue) que véritablement mystiques ("Deus te Videt", qui sonne comme un mélange d’Esoteric et d’Arcturus, surprenant mais efficace ; le pont au piano sur "An Acousmatic Guardian").
Ce nouvel album de Lychgate est de toute beauté, vous l’avez compris. Regorgeant de trouvailles sonores, très solidement construit et extrêmement inspiré, il devrait ravir sans aucune difficulté les amateurs de black doomisant original et hautement qualitatif. Les esprits ouverts également.
Written by Raziel.
An Antidote for the Glass Pill, which we are grandly informed is Lychgate’s second album on the ‘Panopticon’ theme (whatever the hell that is), could quite easily be the work of a bunch of dreary black metal chancers screaming in a church with their heads up their collective arse. However, by the time we’re a minute into the carefully assembled soundscape that opens “Unto My Tempest” and the liberal use of church organ(!) reveals itself for the first time, it’s clear that cheap labelling isn’t appropriate here.
That being said, extreme drama in metal can be a tough line to walk. For every Slipknot debut we have at least one disappointing Kiss reformation complete with melting makeup….but which camp do Lychgate find themselves in?
An Antidote For the Glass Pill deals in vivid moods and right away the thing that hits you is sheer gothic drama and frigid atmospherics provided by the crisply recorded instruments and towers of reverb that linger on in the pauses between the mid-tempo bombast. Everything is clean and well defined. Guitars chug, drill and stab theatrically but at no time suffer from the lack of clarity or descent into pointless noise that hog-tie less able black metal bands. To be honest, until the vocal kicks in you’d be hard pushed to pick this out as a black metal record at all!
That is mostly due to the fact that church organ is convincingly used as the main instrument. But rather than superfluously following the guitars, they lead the charge, establishing musical motifs rather than following them. It shouldn’t work but it does and everything feels melodic, educated and eloquent, even during the most dissonant of moments such as the chiming opening to “Letter XIX”.
Speaking of education, Lychgate have some lofty intellectual influences. While citing the philosophical writings of Zamyatin and Witkiewicz may not scream listener accessibility, you can’t fault them when the result is such song writing cohesion. From lyrics to arrangement, everything has been carefully planned and executed; from the ascending chord progression at the climax of “I Am Contempt” right through to the choiral strains of “The Pinnacle Known to Sisphus”. We’re sure ‘Zamy’ and ‘Witkie’ would be proud!
Okay, so you could argue that using a church organ as a lead instrument limits Lychgate’s palette. You could argue that for a work of this kind of scope, they rely too heavily on ‘traditional’ black metal yelps, especially when the second half of the album proves that guitarist/vocalist ‘V’ has an able tenor voice stashed in his locker. But, perhaps that’s Lychgate’s point. They have no intention of lessening their impact by dropping out of character. It’s all about the impact, the mood, the tone. Antidote To The Glass Pill is more blackened than it is anything else but make no mistake, this is black metal at its most ornate, florid and fundamentally rousing.
Extreme drama in metal is a hard thing to carry off all right. So, do Lychgate lie in the camp of lean, controlled brilliance or alongside bloated dudes in streaky makeup?
Well, that barely deserves an answer. Lychgate have created an album you could get lost in for a week and what’s more, they know it! Brilliant it is then.
Written by Stuart Bell.
Lychgate, een nieuw samengestelde band met roots in Londen, bracht in 2013 een indrukwekkend debuut uit. Lychgate, het gelijknamige debuut, stond in mijn jaarlijst, en kon mij vooral bekoren omwille van de combinatie tussen de originele blackmetal met occulte geluidsdraperieën enerzijds en de typische vocalen van Esoteric-voorman Greg Chandler. De line-up is behalve de bassist onveranderd gebleven, maar de uitvoering is behoorlijk veranderd. Dat kan ik alvast meegeven.
Zo is er veel minder sprake van mystieke en occulte gitaarlijnen, en ligt het tempo ook een stuk lager. In plaats van het epische gitaarwerk krijgen we nu bombastische orgelstukken voorgeschoteld die de doomende black/death vorm en geluid geven op een zeer eigenzinnige manier. Soms lijkt het wel alsof je in een kathedraal aan het luisteren bent naar een bezeten koster die een extreme avantgarde metalband begeleidt met een progressieve psychosezucht. Niet normaal welke verknipte passages hier gebracht worden. Bijzonder verontrustende scenario's vol grimmigheid en een creepy atmosfeer, met dezelfde maalstroomvocalen als op het debuut. Luister maar eens naar het behoorlijk ontaarde Letter XIX.
Niet ieder nummer is even intens of donker avontuurlijk, en dat was ook niet nodig, want dan was de link met het debuut volledig verdwenen geweest, en dat was een brug te ver geweest. Geef dit album zeker een kans, en wil je een indruk opdoen van de georkestreerde chaos, stream dan bovenstaand nummer. Je zult er geen spijt van hebben!
Written by Bart Al Foet.
Propositadamente sujo, agressivo e atmosférico, o novato LYCHGATE é uma banda inglesa que que faz um Black Metal bastante soturno e que causa calafrios na espinha tamanha aura densa que ‘Lychgate’, seu CD de estréia, carrega!
Como já foi dito, a banda faz uma fusão inteligente e bem articulada do Black Metal soturno da virada da década de 80 para a de 90, mas mantendo o feeling bretão da coisa, pois remete um pouco à atmosfera sonora bem terrorosa criada por bandas como o HECATE ENTHRONED de início de carreira, mas isso com personalidade e boas doses de experimentalismo.
Gravado nos Eidola Studios e Priory Studios entre abril e agosto de August 2012, a gravação é propositadamente suja e densa, como todo disco de Black Metal cru tem que ser, com ênfase nos teclados soturnos e bateria, mas mesmo assim, somos capazes de perceber que a banda possui qualidade acima da média. A arte, de Manuel Tinnemans, deixa evidente que este disco não é para aqueles que buscam algo que se encaixem nos padrões do Black Metal que anda fazendo sucesso atualemente, muito pelo contrário.
Das 9 faixas do CD, vemos que a banda tem um futuro promissor, especialmente em momentos intensos e tenebrosos como na pesada e fúnebre ‘Resentment’, com ótimos riffs e teclados macabros sob um andamento variado, mas quase sempre opressivamente cadenciado; a maravilhosa e azeda ‘Against the Paradoxical Guild’, com ótimos vocais “from the depths” e bateria muito bem trabalhada; a rápida ‘In Self Ruin'; a arrepinate ‘Dust of a Gun Barrel’, bem alternada e intensa; e a mais tradicional e mórbida ‘When Scorn Can Scourge No More’, mais uma vez com um ótimo trabalho da cozinha, ótimos riffs de guitarras, vocais e teclados se mesclando perfeitamente, deixando o ouvinte aturdido.
Black Metal para fãs do estilo, e ponto final!
Purposely dirty, aggressive and atmospheric, the Lychgate beginner is an English band that does a pretty grim Black Metal and causing spine tingling such dense aura 'Lychgate', his debut CD, loads!
As others have said, the band makes a smart and well-articulated fusion of black metal sullen the turn of the 80 to 90 but keeping the Breton feeling of it, since it refers to a little well terrorosa sound atmosphere created by bands like HECATE the entry-ENTHRONED, but that with personality and good doses of experimentalism.
Recorded at eidola Studios and Priory Studios between April and August of August 2012, the recording is purposely dirty and dense, like all black metal raw disk has to be, with emphasis on keyboards and drums grim, but even so, we are able to realize the band has above average quality. The art of Manuel Tinnemans, makes clear that this record is not for those looking for something that fit the standards of Black Metal are you doing atualemente success, quite the opposite.
From 9 CD tracks, we see that the band has a promising future, especially in intense and dark times as heavy and funeral in 'Resentment', with great riffs and macabre keyboards in a varied way, but often overwhelming rhythmic; the wonderful and sour 'Against the Paradoxical Guild', with great vocals "from the depths" and beautifully crafted battery; rapid 'In Self Ruin'; the arrepinate 'Dust of a Gun Barrel' and alternating and intense; and the most traditional and morbid 'When Scorn Scourge Can No More', again with a great kitchen work, great guitar riffs, vocals and keyboards blending perfectly, leaving the stunned listener.
Black Metal for fans of the style, period!
Initié à la base en 2001 par Vortigern (ancien batteur chez Spearhead, actuellement associé au projet d’Alexandros « I » Antoniou, The One) en tant que projet solo sous le patronyme Archaicus, Lychgate ne prend véritablement forme qu’avec la collaboration d’éminents spécialistes de musiques atmosphériques : Greg Chandler (Esoteric), Tom Vallely (Omega Centauri et auparavant dans le groupe Orpheus avec Vortigern), Aran (sans groupe depuis la disparition de ses Lunar Aurora et Trist).
Initialement voué à l’underground le plus endurci, certaines démos n’ayant jamais vu le jour, le projet Archaicus disparaît donc au profit de Lychgate qui enregistre ce premier album en 2012 pour une sortie en 2013 sous format CD chez Mordgrimm et vinyle chez Gilead Media.
Vortigern partage les instruments mais reste le seul maître à bord pour la composition, en instigateur du projet qu’il est.
Le musique de Lychgate est une sorte de black atmosphérique assez personnel, bien que franchement inspiré des maîtres norvégiens du black symphonique du début des années quatre-vingt-dix, à savoir Emperor et Limbonic Art ; notamment le premier dans la période Anthems…, avec cette même impression de chaos maîtrisé.
On est assez loin de la pâle copie, cependant. Les arrangements sont assez subtils et déroutants aux premières écoutes, car Lychgate appartient à cette nouvelle école du black metal qui s’oriente vers la recherche harmonique plus que vers la technicité et où la dissonance devient une raison d’être.
La touche Lychgate, c’est cet orgue joué par Vortigern et un certain F. Young en invité qui donne à la musique sa coloration atmosphérique et on a l’impression de se retrouver plongé dans l’univers du Fantôme de l’Opéra (idée suggérée aussi et surtout par les déguisements des protagonistes).
Le travail des guitares n’est pas en reste pour autant, et les mélodies aériennes souvent recherchées ajoutent une touche de raffinement supplémentaire. Là encore, un guest pour les (très bons) solos en la personne de S. D. L. Brimstone (inconnu au bataillon).
Au final, c’est à la fois très léger (dans le son) et relativement peu agressif, par contre très dense avec un spectre sonore axé sur les aigus et les médiums. La section rythmique est à la hauteur du reste, riche, variée et précise. Greg Chandler adopte le même chant que chez Esoteric, qui sonne ici très black du fait d’un traitement différent et de la quasi absence d’effets sur sa voix. C’est un régal de l’entendre s’époumoner avec autant de conviction.
L’album passe très vite, les morceaux s’enchaînent sans temps mort et on se rend compte qu’au final tout est subtilement dosé pour que l’auditoire en ait pour son argent. Au final, un album qui se dévoile au fil des écoutes, d’une grande finesse et atmosphérique avant tout, comme on peut l’imaginer de la part des personnes impliquées. Peut-être pas le chef-d’œuvre qu’on aurait pu attendre, mais un disque qui tend à se bonifier avec le temps.
Initiated at the base in 2001 by Vortigern (former drummer with Spearhead currently associated with the project Alexandros "I" Antoniou, The One) as a solo project under the surname Archaicus, Lychgate truly takes shape with the collaboration of eminent atmospheric music specialists: Greg Chandler (Esoteric), Tom Vallely (Omega Centauri and previously in the Orpheus group Vortigern), Aran (without group since the disappearance of his Lunar Aurora and Trist).
Originally dedicated to the most hardened underground, some demos never emerged, the Archaicus project therefore disappears in favor of Lychgate that records his first album in 2012 for release in 2013 on CD and vinyl in Mordgrimm Gilead Media.
Vortigern sharing instruments but remains the sole command for composition, instigator of the project it is.
The Lychgate music is a kind of atmospheric black enough staff, although frankly inspired by Norwegian symphonic black masters of the early ninety, namely Emperor and Limbonic Art; including the first in the period Anthems ... with that same sense of controlled chaos.
It is far enough from the pale copy, however. The arrangements are quite subtle and confusing at first listening because Lychgate belongs to the new school black metal that is moving towards the harmonic research than towards the technical and where dissonance becomes a reason for being.
The Lychgate touch is the organ played by Vortigern and a F. Young guest which gives the music its atmospheric coloring and it seems to find themselves immersed in the world of the Phantom of the Opera (idea as suggested and especially the costumes of the protagonists).
The work of the guitars is not rest as long, and often sought ethereal melodies add an extra touch of refinement. Again, a guest for the (very good) solos in the person of SDL Brimstone (unknown to the battalion).
Ultimately, it is both very light (in sound) and relatively aggressive against a very dense sound spectrum with a focus on treble and midrange.
The rhythm section is at the height of the rest, rich, varied and precise.
Greg Chandler adopts the same song as in Esoteric, which sounds very black here due to a different treatment and the near absence of effects on his voice. It's a treat to hear him shout loudly with conviction.
The album goes very fast, the pieces are linked together without dead time and we realize that in the end everything is subtly measured account that the audience has for its money.
In the end, an album that unfolds over the wiretapping, great finesse and Atmospheric above all, as you can imagine from the people involved.
Maybe not the masterpiece might have been expected, but a disc which tends to improve with time.
Hold on a second: “haunting” keyboards (hey, remember that old Disney Haunted House 7” from when you were a kid in the ’70s?), silly get-ups, treble-heavy riff work… is this Black Metal? What, do I look like David Perri? Anyway, this UK-based band know what they’re doing: the blasting works good (see “Against The Paradoxical Guild”), some of the more off-kilter guitar work is awesome as well (see the same tune for a great combo of both), helping to create an identity for this gang (featuring dudes from Esoteric and Lunar Aurora). I can never dig the screamy black metal vocals, but I’ll still put this above lots of current BM bands for the ability to balance slower, melodic parts (the insane “Sceptre To Control The World”), dynamics and epic builds (“Triumphalism”), and head-down blasting and unhinged guitar work, making this (thankfully) not too atmospheric but also not deathly raging, instead occupying a mature and well thought-out middle ground that most Black fans will enjoy.
One of the biggest surprises regarding this album is the fact that mighty funeral doom band Esoteric's vocalist and the band's human trademark, Greg Chandler, knows how to screech black metal style.
His searing, gut-busting, throat-splitting, ear-bleeding screams seem to sound like the most natural place for his vocal abilities, as if that's what he's been doing for the most part of his musical career. Stygian, harrowing are his vocals; hate-filled and numbing, they are the backbone—the rotten, crusty, puss-oozing backbone—around which the dark universe of Lychgate revolves. Of course, occasionally his vocal spectrum roams toward his Esoteric days, exercising his belching, gargantuan death growls, adding thus another layer of darkness and chaos so ubiquitously prevalent throughout the recording, from first note to the very last.
Potent are the Lychgate musicians, hailing from various bands (German Lunar Aurora, British Esoteric and semi-British Omega Centauri, to name but few), bringing forth their own experiences and different musical visions and influences.
The album, although monolithic and uniform in sound and style, does bear several qualities—some of which might be alien to each other initially—that ultimately make this recording what it is: beyond-dark, beyond-heavy transcendental art, tying up both ends of existence—perpetual human demise and the ever-present, ancient aspiration of them all: to become a god.
Somehow these visionaries of the black arts have successfully tied classical music with the heaviest, darkest kind of funeral doom and the most vile, esoteric, hateful kind of black metal into one entity of derision, spite, suicidal desperation and star-gazing that would haunt many people's dreams and make this lonely planet a sadder place, eventually.
The music's various velocities go hand in hand with the various interludes, time-changes, vocal alterations, linearities and chaotic moments, the sonic grave-digging and the celestial releases from agony, all aurally represented and executed so well, no review can sum up what can only be witnessed by one's ears, and beyond.
Lychgate's musical labyrinth is full of gruesome surprises; dragging funereal-esque moments clash with blast beats and maelstroms of almost-sonic cacophony; classical interludes and church-organs building this Domus Mundi of horrors and hopelessness versus religious fervor; tidal waves of sheer sonic violence co-existing with orgasmic tunes of bliss and a momentary nirvana, all enshrouded by the familiar psychedelic and mind-altering madness, attributed to the distinctive style of Esoteric.
Such is this recording, full of contradictions; it sounds so familiar to the experienced ear, yet the sum of its various parts makes it a singular beast, a vessel to the stars, a tool of transcendence, shape-shifting, from matter to dust, from dust to the skies.
Always haunting, the songwriting is truly captivating, every single moment emits a certain dark glow that sticks with you, unrelenting, bothersome and despairing. Lychgate is a true modern masterpiece of the art of metal of death, in which all this great art's secrets had been converged and unlocked; a Pandora's box full of the vilest ideas and fears known to man; taunting, haunting, tantalizing and unrelenting, this is how you would remember this unique experience; and remember you will!
Lychgate is one of the best albums released in 2013, a masterpiece even prolific and highly-talented musicians such as the ones behind this magnum opus would surely find near impossible to top.
Lychgate are a new project, but it can be considered a continuation of Archaicus, a solo outfit by Englishman J.R.Y. Vortigern. This guy was also involved with another great act, Spearhead (he used to be this band’s drummer up to 2010), and some might know him from his collaboration with Macabre Omen’s Alexandros (aka Evil Dark aka I) in The One (for the purists: this Greek, Alexandros Antoniou, now resides in the U.K. and plays with acts like Scythian or Razor Of Occam, amongst others). Vortigern was also in defunct Orpheus, together with Tom Vallely (also: Sanctus Nex and Omega Centauri), who (Tom) joined Lychgate’s ranks after the change of name. Two other known entities were recruited too to complete Lychgate’s line-up: German colleague Aran, whom you might (must) know from the great act Lunar Aurora or the sadly defunct solo-project Trist, and Greg A. Chandler, one of the founding guys behind cult-Doom band Esoteric.
This nameless debut was recorded at the Eidola and Priory Studios during 2012, with Mr Chandler behind the knobs. Greg is known for his mixing and mastering works for lots of international extreme bands too, such as his main band Esoteric, but the list is endless: Faal, Pantheist, Grave Miasma, Throne Of Nails, Comatose Vigil and many more. The stuff clocks almost thirty eight minutes and will be released on CD by Mordgrimm, and on vinyl through Gilead Media.
What Lychgate bring is a weird symbiosis of what these guys stand / stood for with their huge curriculum metallicum vitae. This self-titled album combines elements from eerie, grim Black Metal, funereal Doom and haunting passages, combined with a handful of avant-garde additions and expressive explorations. It’s a schismatic equilibrium in between atmospheric obscurity and mysterious inception, both unconventional and self-creative. The huge differentiation in tempo, melody and song structure go hand in hand with a remarkable dissonant undertone of horrific waves of transgendering Extreme Metal (Funeral Doom, Post-Black and Traditional Black, for example, interact with Doom-Death, Blast-Death and Sympho-Black, as well as Dark Ambient). But it does fit. The Lychgate-album isn’t just a lucky shot, nor is it a cheap accumulation of the members’ individual qualities and experience. You probably won’t be surprised this material is a UK-product, for this country houses more of this kind of crap, but you will be surprised by the result. For what it’s worth: I am positively surprised and I can’t get enough. Another pleasant release from 2013 (what a year this is…)!
El Black Metal siempre busca las respuestas en sus propias entrañas, para bien o para mal. Esta afirmación, que podría ser extensible a gran parte del espectro extremo, viene a decir que estamos ante un género donde no son bienvenidos los salvadores foráneos ni las fusiones propuestas desde el extrarradio, y donde todo movimiento dado siempre es fruto del balance entre la coherencia y mantenimiento de los valores fundacionales y la vital necesidad de cambio de muchas de sus bandas. Esto es algo que uno comprende cuando ve la evolución de formaciones como Enslaved, Satyricon, Deathspell Omega o Blut Aus Nord, en las que a pesar de la adición de innumerables influencias estilísticas se siente el negro palpitar original como motor de todas las decisiones. Por eso cuando de la nada aparece una banda de Shoegaze/Post/Ambiental Black Metal formada por pulcros flequilludos no me creo nada. Y no es que no pueda disfrutar de su propuesta, pero ésta se me aparece lejana al género y con unos puntos en común que se enfocan más a los elementos formales que al contenido. Como vestir los hábitos sin haber hecho los votos. Es por eso que entre tanto hype de la Pitchfork servidor esperara con ansia desmedida el debut de Lychgate, superbanda formada por músicos de algunas de las bandas más excelsas del panorama extremo europeo tales como Esoteric, Lunar Aurora, Archaicus y Omega Centauri. Especialmente sorprendente era la participación de Greg Chandler (vocalista y guitarra de Esoteric) en la función, pues sobre el papel poco tenía que ver el inconmensurable Funeral Doom de su banda madre con una obra de Black Metal, añadiendo un aliciente más para desear la escucha de Lychagate (2013, Mordgrimm/Gilead Media).
Curiosas y contradictorias son las sensaciones que uno tiene tras escuchar este discazo, pues aunque los parámetros por los que se mueve se instalan en la gloriosa década de los 90 la manera que tiene de atravesar sub-géneros y añadir elementos nuevos le confiere un aura de frescura e innovación difícil de explicar. No es que estemos ante un trabajo de vanguardia ni experimental, ni mucho menos, pero sí ante uno que sin necesidad moverse de los postulados fundacionales (ya ni hablo de beber los vientos por el indie o el post-rock) mira al futuro y plantea toda una serie de vías a explorar. Sin ninguna duda del liderazgo que en Lychgate ejerce su alma mater Vortigern (ex-Archaicus) a las guitarras y teclados, buena parte de su propuesta nos retrotrae a su antigua banda, pero el nivel y complejidad compositivas aquí desplegadas sobrepasa las referencias habituales y se asientan en una comparación mortal para la mayoría de formaciones: Emperor. Sí señores, muy pocas veces he sentido a un grupo acercarse al nivel de barroquismo sinfónico que practicaban los titanes noruegos como en el debut de Lychgate, especialmente a la gloriosa etapa iniciática de In The Nightside Eclipse o el enorme Anthems To The Welking At Dusk. Esto por si mismo ya valdría para que estuviéramos hablando de un disco excelso, pero lo que lo hace verdaderamente relevante son los matices y personalidad específicos con que desarrollan esta línea compositiva, y es ahí donde entra en liza el otro genio de la ecuación, el señor Chandler. Comentaba mi curiosidad por ver la manera en que este héroe del Funeral Doom se adaptaba a los terrenos del Black Metal, y he de decir que la cosa es para quitarse el sombrero. Más allá de su terrorífica voz interdimensional lo que destaca es la impresionante conjunción de talento a las seis cuerdas que lleva a cabo junto a Vortigern, aportando a la base de Black Sinfónico una dimensión propia del Doom más abisal y que se expresa en un aura de inmensidad subyugadora y unos medios tiempos oscuros como el corazón de una singularidad espacial. Si a ello le sumamos la ubicua y épica presencia de teclados a lo largo de todo el álbum tenemos una obra que traslada una vastedad compositiva tal que empequeñece el alma del oyente, y que reivindica la verdadera grandeza del Black Metal Sinfónico como un género impredecible, colosal y por encima de las sonoridades terrenales. Esto queda meridianamente claro en barbaridades ultramundanas como Dust Of A Gun Barrel, la cópula imposible entre Emperor y Esoteric con el poder de evocación de mil estrellas moribundas, o en el soberbio dominio de melodías y cambios de registro que es Sceptre To Control The World. Sorpresas también nos depara la hipervitaminada In Self Ruin, clínic de cómo conjugar velocidades de infarto, virtuosismo, teclados y mala leche en uno de los temas más malignos y venenosos que vas a escuchar en mucho tiempo. Y así, entre pútrida grandilocuencia, épica cósmica y subyugación sonora transcurre un álbum que no necesita más de 37 minutos para postrarte a sus pies, y que hace que el siguiente disco anunciado para el año que viene susurre promesas de grandeza y fin de los días.
Lychgate han invocado no sólo el gran debut blacker del año, sino uno de los mejores discos del género en lo que vamos de década. Sin necesidad de pedir ayuda al Post-Rock o al Indie ni escupir sobre los orígenes los británicos han conjurado una criatura donde el Black Sinfónico y el Doom Metal de Esoteric encuentran un punto de encuentro, rendija a través de la cual atisbar la insoportable extensión del cosmos. Discazo.
The Black Metal is always looking for the answers in their own entrails, for better or for worse. This statement, which could be extended to much of the extreme spectrum, it says that this is a genre where they are not welcome foreign saviors or merger proposals from the suburbs, and where all movement as is always the result of the balance between consistency and maintenance of the foundational values and the vital need to change many of their bands. This is something that you understand when you see the evolution of bands like Enslaved, Satyricon, Deathspell Omega and Blut Aus Nord, where despite the addition of countless stylistic influences feels the throbbing black Original engine as all decisions. So when out of nowhere a band of Shoegaze / Post / Ambient Black Metal formed by FLEQUILLUDOS neat appears not believe anything. And no you can not enjoy your proposal, but it appears to me far gender and a common ground that more focus to the formal elements that content. How to dress habits without making the vote. That is why the hype meantime server with unbridled lust Pitchfork expected debut Lychgate, supergroup formed by musicians from some of the most sublime panorama European extreme bands such as Esoteric, Lunar Aurora, Archaicus and Omega Centauri. Especially surprising was the participation of Greg Chandler (vocals and guitar Esoteric) in function, because on paper had little to do immeasurable his mother Funeral Doom band with a piece of Black Metal, adding another incentive for wanting to listen of Lychagate (2013 Mordgrimm / Gilead Media).
Curious and contradictory are the feelings one has after listening to this great album, because although the parameters by which it moves are installed in the glorious 90s fashion has to cross sub-genres and add new elements gives an aura of freshness and innovation difficult to explain. Not that to be a vanguard or experimental work, much less, but to one without moving the foundational principles (and not talk about drinking the winds by the indie-rock or post) looks to the future and raises a number of avenues to explore. No doubt the leadership in Lychgate exercises his alma mater Vortigern (ex-Archaicus) on guitars and keyboards, much of its proposal takes us back to his old band, but the level and compositional complexity here deployed exceeds the usual references and settle in a deadly compared to most formations: Emperor. Yes folks, rarely have felt a group approach the level of symphonic baroque practiced by the Norwegian titans like in the debut of Lychgate, especially the glorious initiatory stage Eclipse In The Nightside or huge Anthems To The Welking At Dusk. This would apply to yourself and we were talking about a sublime album, but what makes it truly relevant are the nuances and specific personality compositional developing this line, and that is where enters the arena the other genius of the equation, the Mr. Chandler. Commented my curious to see how this hero of Funeral Doom adapted to the land of Black Metal, and I must say that the thing is to remove his hat. Beyond its terrifying interdimensional voice that stands out is the amazing combination of talent on guitar holding with Vortigern, contributing to the base of Black Symphony's own nether dimension of Doom and is expressed in an aura of subduing vastness and means dark times as the heart of a spatial singularity. If we add the ubiquitous presence of epic keyboards throughout the album have a work that takes a compositional vastness that dwarfs the soul of the listener, and claiming the true greatness of Symphonic Black Metal as a genre unpredictable, colossal and above earthly sounds. This is abundantly clear in otherworldly atrocities like Dust Of A Gun Barrel, impossible intercourse between Emperor and Esoteric with the evocative power of a thousand dying stars, or the superb melodies and domain registry changes that are Sceptre To Control The World. Surprises also gives us the hipervitaminada In Self Ruin, clínic how to combine myocardial velocities, virtuosity, keyboards and nastiness in one of the most evil and poisonous items you'll hear in a long time. And so, between putrid bombast, cosmic sound epic and subjugation takes an album that does not need more than 37 minutes to prostrate at his feet, and that makes the next album announced for next whispered promises of grandeur and so on year .
Lychgate have invoked not only the great blacker debut of the year, but one of the best albums of the genre as we go decade. No need to ask for help to Post-Rock or Indie or spit on the origins Britons have conjured creature where the Symphonic Black Metal and Doom Esoteric find a meeting point, slit through which peer unbearable extension cosmos. Great album.
One of the big surprises of this year is certainly the self titled debut album by Lychgate, a “super group” formed by the most amazing of lineups: Greg Chandler (Esoteric), Aran (Lunar Aurora, Trist), Tom Vallely (Omega Centauri) and Vortigern (The One, Archaicus). With such amazing and skilled musicians behind Lychgate, the result could only be something marvelously arcane. Founded by Vortigern, Lychgate was a natural evolution that occurred over time from his project Archaicus, and despite having a new shape it’s still very audible the influences of the band-root’s sound in Lychgate. But this influence is not only restricted to Archaicus, throughout the album, there are delightful details that bring to my mind similarities from the music from where these mysterious alchemists come from. So what can you expect with this album? Lychgate blends the most esoteric side of doom metal mixed with some pieces of progressive death metal with the most melodic side of black metal, that along the album, is constantly showing its agressive facet, resulting in a very avant garde, atmospheric, mystic and almost cinematic kind of black metal.
One interesting aspect in the making of Lychgate was that it was created without the aid of programming. All instrumentation was performed and recorded without edits, a factor that gives even more credit to the talented and skilled musicians presented here. In fact that’s the way I like it done: without artifices. Just clean, well performed, honest and brilliant music coming straight from the (dark) soul. Recorded at Eidola Studios and Priory Studios between April and August of last year, Lychgate was mixed and mastered by Greg Chandler at Priory Studios and features an amazing cover artwork by Manuel Tinnemans that truly captures the mystery and the whole essence of this album.
Now, before we head-dive into Lychgate I must confess that before receiving this album, in the last couple of weeks before I’d been revisiting a lot to Emperor’s masterpiece Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk and after a first audition to Lychgate, you might call me crazy, I immediately knew that I was facing another album of as great and epic proportions as Emperor’s masterpiece. As a matter of fact, if Lychgate had emerged in the 90’s they would certainly have as its direct rival the Norwegian band. The entire structure of the tracks, which balances melody with aggression perfectly, and the sound exhaled really has that kind of sound that makes me travel back in time. Their music really captures and embodies that pure 90′s aura all over.
Opening with the intro “The Inception” the veil is lifted abruptly as we stand at the edge of this dark, deep well of souls. As we look down, and watch with fear into the darkness that is about to swallow us, we take a long deep breath of air and head dive into it not knowing what we’re about to face. This intro track really sets the tone being the perfect welcome card for the album. Right after that “Resentment” comes dyed in shades of black haunted by that daunting pipe organ that fuses wonderfully with the rest of the instruments, creating an absolute and total gloomy atmosphere. It’s kind of a symphonic black metal, but in a more dreary way. Do not expect to apply the tag “symphonic black metal” that really sticks into bands like Satyricon or Behemoth here. No. This is totally on another level. The constant use of the pipe organ is in fact one of the elements that stands out about this album, giving an astounding character to the tracks, enhancing them into a brutal dimension that sucks us even deeper into this pit of lost souls.
Greg’s voice wanders constantly through the territories of black and doom metal, and fits perfectly in this recording like a glove, distributing blood curdling screams and cavernous growls. The guitar work is also superb, giving us some incredible notes that swirl and surround us completely, dragging us into surreal universes or it can also ravish us, throwing us to the ground with ferocious and sharp riffs. The detail of blending acoustic segments in the middle of this black metal vortex isn’t anything new but in this recording it fits and works perfectly and flawlessly. But in the midst of this malicious orchestra, what really grabs my attention is the work of Tom Vallely. In his natural habitat, the drums. Tom (as the rest as his fellow alchemist mages) seems even more dedicated and determined here, giving us all of these amazing details into the tracks to which we are even afraid to blink in order to not miss one millisecond of their performance. I had to pick up my jaw from the floor many times while playing this album. Brutal. Lychgate works in the most perfect and harmonious way. Albums of this caliber are a rare and unique piece nowadays. When we think that everything has been created, reinterpreted, replicated, etc, we are unexpectedly caught by an album like this.
Tracks like “Against the Paradoxical Guild” that starts with classic riffs pretty much à la Emperor, and that soon unfold into twisted contours intoxicated by the evident madness in Greg’s vocal work. An authentic spiral filled with surreal details into which we increasingly fall deeper. Or the insurgent “In Self Ruin” that begins with the most imposing cacophony, leading my mind to imagine almost a scene from “Phantom of the Opera” but in a more twisted and darker version. The drum suddenly unloads all its fury that shapes into a storm of blastbeats while totally frantic riffs increase the malicious flood of black metal. It’s the constant twists between malice and melody, creating a climate of passage among the most aggressive and melodic sections within the tracks. “Sceptre to Control the World” is another one of those amazing pillars that elevates this álbum to epic proportions where that flawless balance between Light and Darkness is perfectly constructed among black and doom metal overtones.
In the middle of the album, the band throws in an interlude right before another relentless storm of black metal riffs and blasbeats, falling upon us with “Triumphalism” a track that brings to my mind several details of Omega Centauri or even Archaicus, in which Greg’s voice unleashes daunting and shrieking screams before being possessed by the spectre of doom metal. “Dust of a Gun Barrel” introduces us to a more a haunting and mysterious atmosphere, which constantly draws from the most slow/mid-tempo doom-ish paces sections accelerating to sections where the band creates unpredictable conjunctions with acoustic elements that bring another aura to the track.
The album closes with “When Scorn Can Scourge No More” a far more melodic track than the ones we’ve heard previously, where the guitars throw captivating notes into the air, creating an almost etheral atmosphere that ends up intoxicating us through all of this mysticism hovering in the air, only interrupted by the malicious voice that loses its last blood-chilling screams before fading into darkness. Although we can look at this track from a more melodic point of view, it never loses that malicious character behind it, almost as an enigmatic mask covers the horrors that hide behind it.
With this amazing self-titled album, Lychgate have created a formula, and although not new, it is indeed unique and something they can call their own. Allying their creativity to their great know-how, together these alchemists, who share between them their old and most obscured recipes, have managed to provide us with a very surreal and mystical album. Every track, every performance, every detail is simply beautiful. It has all the contours of a perfect masterpiece. One for most amazing albums of this decade. What a wonderful journey.
Lychgate is already available on CD through U.K. label Mordgrimm. Or if you prefer vinyl, you can jump to Gilead Media store. More information about Lychgate can be found at their website or Facebook page.
From the intro track, The Inception, of Lychgate’s self-titled debut I found myself fully captivated by the guitar work. There isn’t anything technical; however, there is something wildly creative about it all. Rather than focusing on speed, Lychgate opts for a more progressive style which I personally find highly memorable compared to even some of the more popular musical tyrants, blackened or not. Supplementing the unique black/prog style is also the welcoming inclusion of Organ sound work – not strictly used to accentuate the mood but also as an occasionally treated as an instrument all on its own.
Lychgate also has a surprisingly excellent knack for keeping the mood and style of their work intact throughout the album, not including songs which would damage its progression in anyway. Instead, everything feels like its naturally building up to something fantastic. This doesn’t mean that any song is weaker than the one before it; all tracks support those before and after very well.
Lychgate and its self-titled album are things to behold. One can simply sit and listen to it entirely; forgetting time is even passing until the very last second of the album. However, when that final track ends you’ll be wondering where it all went – wishing for more.
I don't think my adoration for this band needs to really be stated seeing who is involved. Featuring members of Esoteric (one of the best funeral doom acts out there), Lunar Aurora (one of my favorite black metal bands - period.), and Omega Centauri (a great up and coming group), as well as The One (which is pretty solid), I knew this would be good. So when I received this album it pretty much just jumped up to the top of my "must review as soon as possible" list.
I remember the press release for this album telling me it was going to be a black metal album, which I would have gathered right away after listening to this album, but it did tell me that it wasn't going to be in the Esoteric vein of things. But this certainly wasn't the sort of black metal that I think I was expecting to hear, though based on who's in the band I really should have anticipated this being a bit left of normality. There are definite traces of each of the four member's original groups in here. The songs aren't blasting for the most part, the riffing is slightly off-kilter sounding, and the atmosphere is just noxious throughout. I remember hearing Resentment for the first time and just feeling like I couldn't even navigate through the track because the atmosphere was just so powerful. The riffs certainly have their surges of tremolo picked, high velocity moments on here, but the majority of it is more mid-tempo stuff that just has that huge Esoteric-like weight and atmosphere to it. There's all this reverb on these guitars that literally made me take a step back when I realized it. In addition to that, despite the riffs being a bit more "different" (I don't feel like I could call them abstract in this case) the tone on this record is still pretty melodic, with melodies that are quite easy to recall long after the album has finished.
If you haven't already guessed it, I really dig this album. I think the only problem I really have with it is how short it is. This entire album is under forty minutes and after listening to a bunch of albums recently that are too long, it sucks to find a really good one that I think is too short. With the exception of the intro and interlude (of which I have no problems with) there are only seven real tracks on here and they're all pretty damn good. Even the short burst of fire that is In Self Ruin is a great piece of work because it doesn't wallow in how straightforward it is in it's aggression. It also comes in at a nice point in the album, it isn't too late in to show the band can just bust out an intense rager, but not early enough to come across like just another black metal band. I could go into detail about almost every track on here, because they're all something great, though I do find myself coming back to the likes of Sceptre to Control The World and Dust of A Gun Barrel more than any other track on here. There's just something about those two tracks that draws me back over and over. Frankly, they aren't the most memorable tracks on the album, but there's just this quality to them that remains with me more than any other track.
So, overall, I really dug this album and I think if you like black metal in some shape or form you'll like it as well. This isn't an album that really tries to be experimental or unique but still manages to cross a wide amount of territory in each of it's tracks. There's something in here for every fan of the genre and I can't say enough good things about it.
Highlights: Against The Paradoxical Guild, Sceptre to Control The World, Dust of A Gun Barrel
Never heard of Lychgate? If you search on mighty Metal Archives you’ll see this as a brand new band based in UK starting in 2012 and devoted to black metal.
But 2012 is the year of a rebirth, a magic one … Lychgate play a kind of epic, powerful black metal dominated by keyboards and organs. You may call it “orchestral” metal but imagine it as light years far away from the boring bloat of symphonic metal.
Lychgate can do the miracle because this is a league of experienced metallers from awesome acts. The band originates from the ashes, or better from the metamorphosis, of Archaicus, an over 10 years-old solo project started by Vortigern, multi-instrumentalist and frontman in several black metal bands (e.g., The One). For the rebirth Vortigern (on guitars, chants, keyboards and organ) involved none less than Greg Chandler (vocals and guitars) from doom monster band Esoteric, Aran (on bass) from the German atmospheric black metal band Lunar Aurora and, not least, T. J. F. Vallely (on drumming and percussions) from the dark and nasty creature Omega Centauri, among others.
Basically a monster line-up …
So you may expect Lychgate as being a hybrid beast because the bands where these fellow musicians militate are known to elaborate and do experimentation on sounds in spite of being firmly rooted in the so-called “old school” metal. Back to the tag issue, one option is to tag Lychgate as “atmospheric”, “progressive” black metal or “art” metal. But tags would miss the amazing richness in Lychgate. Lychgate is a sort of ancient magic cauldron where someone poured abundant doses of pathos and brutality, say, à-la-Bathory, Taake and Marduk (or at your choice!), side by side with the technics and the atmospheres of Death, Opeth, Edge of Sanity and Katatonia, the avantgarde-jazzy escapes like in Virus, archaic raw and occult keyboard-driven horror prog doom like that in Winter and Abysmal Grief respectively, noise, psychedelia, ecc. And, when the whole nasty lot starts boiling, there come lethal but ethereal vapours smelling of Alcest … This is basically the recipe of Lychgate’s self-titled debut album, 9 tracks for almost 38 minutes, a tormented trip into another time, into the pitch-black tunnel suggested by the gloomy cover art (signed by Manuel Tinnemans).
Two tracks are about one minute-long and act as intro and relieving interval to a crazy vortex depicted by the other seven tracks. These tracks are incredibly multifaceted but never too lengthy, 6 minutes-long maximum. This band has a great ability in symthesys while writing music, a skill allowing them roaming across different genres, mix the latter into a chaotic-sounding tangle and eventually loose it and close in an almost natural and elegant way. Often tracks start or else develop a core possessing the crypt-like sounds or the hellish and obsessive charge typical of classic black metal. However soon the guys unleash their love for technics by means of series of very fast and complex or else nervous riffs (like in track In Self Ruin). Or else riffs may develop via hypnotic and tormented circular patterns (e.g., in Sceptre to Control the World). Technics is not going to intoxicate you, though, as slow and solemn doom will come as a balming intervals where the thundering melodies impressively build up from sounds elaborated on different parallel plans. Especially in these doomy sections organ is the king. Keyboard sounds echo in a solemn, menacing way and drown the raw brutality of black metal in occult and morbid atmospheres. However often the reverbered sound of the organ is what helps in turning the gruesome torment into liquid melodies and ethereal atmospheres heard in psychedelic post-black metal and shoegaze. There will always be the obsessive, martial beat of the drums in the background, though, reminding you that this is a nasty band …
Like drumming, also Greg Chandler’s growled vocals are overwhelmed by the cacophony of guitars and drums, although this hellish mess is going to make singing even scarier, both when Greg is roaring like a beast during the black metal assaults and when he is letting his tormented doom soul speak. After the atmospheric central interval dominated by keyboards and occult chants, it is the time for two awesome tracks, Triumphalism e Dust of a Gun Barrel. These ballads broadly follow the scheme written above, although they are particularly haunting and deeply incorporate the influence of the old project Archaicus and of the bands from where the members of this super-group stem. Track Triumphalism is opened by a peculiar coupling between a syncopated drumming pattern and a dreamy, psychedelic combination of organ and reverbered guitars before the black metal nuclear explosion. Yet what comes after is a magnificent blend of bestial frenzy and complex and elegant melodies, crazy accelerations and breathtaking slow-downs. The pulsating, syncopated drumming beat will there, in the background before everything will dissolve into dreamy black shoegaze.
The track Dust of a Gun Barrel, has a dissonant and jazzy avantgarde start before opening the cage and letting the beast and its evil soul out. But there is always space for atmosphere, like, for example, in the sudden, beautiful interruption halfway through the track, where the chords of an acoustic guitar are vibrating in a pre-storm silence. What will follow is actually a doleful and sometimes epic melody contaminated and “refreshed” by some dissonance and curious diversions.
For closing this magnificent album, the band will leave bestiality and choose a proggy/shoegaze mood. As a matter of fact, the final track, When Scorn Can Scourge No More, tends to develop like a charming hybrid between Alcest and Opeth when lead by a rather mellow guitar sound.
This is the way I experienced Lychgate’s debut album, although further listening in varying moods might surely reveal more and more details and features of this extremely rich yet quite concise album. Surely one of the side-effects of enjoying this album is the push to go and refresh memory about the fine bands related to Lychgate and, thus, prolongue the magic. So Lychgate is much much welcome for energetically adding to the group of the eclectic bands contributing to renew and enrich the international black metal panorama either with experimentation or by straying boundaries across genres. I am thinking about Negative Plane, Oranssi Pazuzu, Nachtmystium, Ludicra, Paroxsihzem, etc.
Lychgate’s debut album is out on Gilead Media as LP and via Mordgrimm Records as CD/digital version. So there are no excuses for missing this beautiful release, which is malevolent and fierce, technical as well as very involving for its richness and inspiration drenching each track. I’m here, waiting for more to come, with my rapacious beak open like a baby vulture…
Let’s not beat around the bush here; Lychgate’s self-titled debut album is evil... really evil. If one look at the album cover doesn’t already give you that impression, the first few minutes of music certainly will. For a band consisting of members from Esoteric, Lunar Aurora and Omega Centauri, among others, this kind of atmosphere was always expected; it’s the execution of it that is most impressive.
From the opening minute of 'The Inception' it is apparent that this is not going to be a comfortable journey, with the use of a church organ creating a particularly unsettling tone. 'Resentment' is a great track but consists of mostly mid-paced black/doom metal, and it’s not until 'Against the Paradoxical Guild' that the album truly comes to life.
The latter track features an awe-inspiring vocal performance from Greg Chandler, who utilises his terrifying high-pitched shrieks to full effect. The music is just so much more sinister when Chandler leaves his mark on it, but kudos to the rest of the group for enveloping his vocals in some truly magnificent soundscapes. This is black metal of the highest standard, further evidenced by 'In Self Ruin', where the pace really kicks up and the avant-garde and progressive elements come to the fore. These are all experienced musicians from very forward-thinking groups, and their willingness to experiment gives the album a really confident air to it. The blistering guitar solo that comes in about a minute into the song is an unexpected move, but is pretty much as good as it gets for the genre.
Also expect to hear everything from hypnotic chanting ('Intermezzo'), blastbeats ('Triumphalism'), and acoustic breaks ('Dust of a Gun Barrel') during Lychgate’s latter half, which rounds up the album perfectly. There are no weak tracks here, making the 38 minutes of music go by quickly, but memorably. In short, if you’re a fan of any of the bands involved, enjoy ‘artsy’ black metal of any kind, or like music that will make you want to hide beneath the bed covers, Lychgate is definitely for you.
Undoubtedly, one of my favorites and probably most plays got here at the Haxan's den. Another remarkable debut coming out from one of the most amazing supergroups. Lychgate's debut is all about delivering great theatrical and enigmatic atmospheres with the most esoteric of black metal soundtracks. Awesome.
Voilà un projet bien alléchant pour les amateurs de metal extrême, Lychgate réunissant en effet dans son line-up un membre de Lunar Aurora (en fin ex-membre puisque le groupe a splitté) et Greg Chandler d'Esoteric ! Et qu'est ce que peuvent bien faire ces deux gars là ensemble, un mélange de leurs groupes respectifs?
Pas vraiment en fait, même si j'ai retrouvé quelques traces d'Esoteric en plein milieu de "Against The Paradoxical Guild" et que le côté Lunar Aurora peut se ressentir dans le sens de la mélodie peu commun dont faisait preuve ce groupe. En dehors de ces quelques réminiscences, Lychgate donne plutôt dans une sorte de black généralement mid tempo, assez lancinant et fantomatique. En dehors de quelques blasts judicieusement placés, on n'y trouve pas de débordements violents, tout est surtout basé sur les atmosphères et autres ambiances caverneuses. C'est surtout l'orgue régulièrement employé qui donne cette impression de grotte poussiéreuse peuplée de spectres en tout genre, il faut dire que c'est plutôt efficace et que l'album est globalement assez froid. Inutile de préciser que ceux qui cherchent du bourrin se sont trompés de crèmerie, ils n'auront pas leur dose de destruction auditive chez Lychgate. En même temps avec un tel line-up, quand on connaît les groupes impliqués, on se doute bien que la boucherie sonore ne sera pas le propos.
Vocalement parlant, on remarque que contrairement à ce qu'il fait dans Esoteric, Greg Chandler utilise surtout un chant criard ici et ses growls profonds ne se font qu'une toute petite place sur ce premier album. Les claviers sont bien mis en avant et s'imposent sans occulter les guitares pour autant, créant du coup une ambiance horrifique plutôt sympathique et loin des pires moments d'un Gloomy Grim ou d'un Morgul. Et même si en plus de ça j'ai pu pensé à du Emperor période "In The Nightside Eclipse" sur les passages les plus atmosphériques, j'admets que je n'arriverai pas vraiment à rapprocher Lychgate d'un autre groupe. Sans rien inventer, le mélange de ces genres ayant déjà été fait avant, le groupe arrive à le faire à sa sauce et à donner une personnalité propre à sa musique. L'album passe du coup très bien, et sa durée relativement faible (38 minutes) et qu'on aurait tendance à prendre pour un défaut permet ainsi à l'album de ne pas se répéter, l'écoute se fait toute seule et on se laisse embarquer là dedans sans trop de difficultés.
Après il y aura toujours des déçus pour dire qu'avec un tel CV ça aurait pu être encore mieux, et c'est vrai que ça pourrait l'être. Mais gardons à l'esprit que pour un premier album sous cette forme c'est déjà prometteur, et si le projet tient debout à l'avenir son évolution pourrait devenir très intéressante. Parce que malgré le fait que ce premier jet n'atteingne pas les sommets des discographies respectives de Lunar Aurora et d'Esoteric, il n'en reste pas moins un très bon bonus pour les amateurs des deux combos pré-cités (et j'en fais partie). Sans être un simple mélange de ces deux monstres du metal extrême, on se retrouve quand même avec une sorte de fusion de leurs univers respectifs dans un nouveau moule avec quelques ingrédients supplémentaires. Pour faire plus simple, on sent bien leurs pattes, mais le groupe ne se résume pas à ces deux personnes et Lychgate est tout de même plus qu'une bête addition de deux groupes aussi excellents soient-ils.
Voilà donc un premier album très prometteur qui pourrait annoncer une suite sacrément intéressante si le projet n'est pas sabordé comme beaucoup d'autres. Résultat, on se retrouve avec un album à la fois glacial, fantomatique, caverneux, sombre, et parfois paré de mélodies "lunaires" dirons-nous. Que les curieux n'hésitent pas à y jeter une oreille, ça se démarque assez de la concurrence pour mériter un minimum d'attention.
This is a very attractive project for fans of extreme metal, combining Lychgate indeed in its line-up a member of Lunar Aurora (late former member since the band split) and Greg Chandler of Esoteric! And what may well be these two guys together, a mixture of their groups?
Not really actually, although I found some traces of Esoteric in the middle of "Against The Paradoxical Guild" and the Lunar Aurora side can be felt in the sense of unusual melody of which was evidence that group. Apart from these few reminiscences Lychgate rather gives a kind of black usually mid tempo, quite haunting and ghostly. Apart from a few well-placed blasts, one does not find violent outbursts, everything is mainly based on the atmospheres and other cavernous environments. This is especially the organ regularly employee who gives the impression of dusty cave populated spectra of all kinds, we must say that it's more efficient and that the album is overall quite cold. Needless to say, those seeking nag creamery were wrong, they will not have their hearing destruction dose Lychgate. Together with such a line-up, when we know the groups involved, there is little doubt that the sound will not butcher the point.
Vocally speaking, we note that contrary to what he did in Esoteric Greg Chandler mostly use a screaming vocals and deep growls here are only a small place on the first album. The keyboards are highlighted and binding without obscuring the guitars so far, creating a sudden horrifying ambiance rather nice and away the worst moments of a Gloomy Grim or Morgul. And even if on top of that I have thought of the period Emperor "In The Nightside Eclipse" on the most atmospheric passages, I admit that I do not really get to bring Lychgate of another group. Without inventing anything, the mixture of these genres have been done before, the group manages to make it to the sauce and give a personality to his music. The album goes suddenly very well, and its relatively short duration (38 minutes) and that would tend to take it for a default and allows the album not to be repeated, listening is all alone and embarks in there without too much difficulty.
After there will always disappointed to say that with such a CV could have been better, and it is true that it could be. But keep in mind that for a first album in this form is already promising, and if the project make sense in the future evolution could become very interesting. Because despite the fact that this draft does not atteingne the tops of the discographies of Lunar Aurora and Esoteric, there remains a great bonus for fans of the two afore-mentioned combos (and I 'am one). Without being a simple mixture of these two monsters extreme metal, we are left still with a sort of fusion of their respective universe in a new mold with some additional ingredients. To make it simpler, we feel their legs, but the group is not just these two people and Lychgate's still more than a beast addition of two excellent groups as they are.
So here is a very promising album that could herald a damn interesting result if the project is not scuttled like many others. As a result, we are left with an album both icy, ghostly, cavernous, dark, and sometimes adorned with "lunar" tunes shall we say. The curious do not hesitate to check it, it stands out enough competition to earn a minimum of attention.
We hinted at calling the Lychgate self-titled effort on Gilead Media the black metal album of the year. And in these last moments of 2013 we stand behind that notion. Without taking too much more real estate in this year end post, we’ll just leave our write up from a little earlier this here which you can read here.
Is the self-titled LP from Lychgate the best black metal album of the year? Here, sitting in the latter portion of November 2013, Grindthieves would like to tell you that it is. Cutting to the chase, if Portal had a black metal sister it would be, without question, Lychgate. That is, if you aren’t familiar with the level of love Grindthieves has for Portal, quite the fucking statement.
Layers upon layers, deep and complex evolving beasts of sonic burden, the tracks on the self-titled effort from Lychgate on the ever incredible Gilead Media label are the stuff from which luscious dreams and nightmares are woven. Crafting a rather progressive take on black metal, I’ve seen comparisons made to Deafheaven. While not entirely off base, Lychgate ring far truer in their efforts than anything Deafheaven have tried their hand at, and that’s saying quite a bit – we loved “Sunbather”. However, where Deafheaven meander through moments of shoegaze tinged black metal when not pushing forward in a progressive take on black metal, Lychgate cast black metal spells and call sinister progressive blackened spirits from the ether as if it is what they were put on earth to do.
Holding firm to tried and true black metal frameworks, Lychgate exercise (and exorcise) artist license within the genre, conjuring incredibly artful renditions of a sound considered dirty and raw and reserved for garages or basements. The material on their self-titled effort is practically a black metal opera, when you get right down to it; the intros, and scenes, and solos, and the unbridled emotion. An entire story painted in sound, with a black metal brush, the album reeks of an understanding of progressive and black metal which few bands have ever seemed to understand, let alone try their hand at. And where the few who do get that sinister recipe have attempted and failed, Lychgate succeed tenfold.
The quality of production on this album is of worthy note, as well. Where this album would have succeeded in its mission just fine with a low quality and, supposedly more “black metal”, production aesthetic, the effort really shines with the impeccable attention to detail. A vacuous reverb sound created from properly placed mediocre amps and mics would’ve sufficed across the board, but thankfully the person or people on the master quest knew what the fuck they were doing. The drums cut through the guitars, bass, and vocals so precisely. The atmospheres wind and slither through the distortion of guitar fuzz so gracefully. The vocals are mixed so perfectly. Together, as a whole, I would wonder why anyone attempting a so-called “thinking mans black metal” music wouldn’t get in touch with the people responsible for the end result of this album, when it comes to mechanics of production.
Gilead Media has got this available for you, and you should get it. Available on that thick 180g vinyl for all the people who know what’s up. Go get it here.
And while we're talking about great releases on Gilead Media, I cannot in good conscience fail to put a good word in for the forthcoming self-titled Lychgate LP and CD. Lychgate is indeed a unique entity, originally started by one man but now consisting of G.A. Chandler (from Esoteric), Aran (from the now-defunct Lunar Aurora, one of my favorite black metal bands ever), and Tom Vallely (of Omega Centauri and Sanctus Nex). That lineup will give you an idea as to what you'd think the album sounds like, but whatever that notion is, erase it from your mind and prepare to be blown away. Indeed, elements of doom and black metal are prominent here, but I've honestly never heard anything like this. The atmosphere is incredible, the songs are epic and progressive in their composition and scope, and the melodies are electrifying, grand, and very memorable. This is another album that will always be greater than the sum of its parts, no matter how impressive those parts are on their own. It's only one track, but listen to the track below and get a better idea of what this album is all about.
Now, I'm hoping you're ready to buy this, because I think you'll seriously come to regret it if you don't. This album has grown on me immensely since I first heard it, and I'm dying to have the vinyl in my possession. If you're a CD person, you can order it from Mordgrimm, but if you'd rather get the 180 gram vinyl (and perhaps the t-shirt that goes with it), you can pre-order it now from Gilead Media.
Lychgate reside in the space of stylistic description found between the world of funeral doom and atmospheric black metal. The meeting of plodding, syrupy doom and scathing, frostbitten black metal speed results in an album bent on breaking the listener’s will to exist on the band’s self-titled debut.
A keyboard-driven intro opens the blackened ritual with an authoritarian presence, commanding attention and obedience to the enveloping display of dismal discourse to follow. Organs and punishing low end crunch propel the mouth of madness from the depths on “Resentment”. Thunderous double-kick accelerates the heart rate to a fevered pulse by invoking a sense of terror similar to Evoken but with far more urgency.
Vocals howl through the ether borne on the souls of the damned, lording over funereal plodding with gently undulating guitar waves dancing above the surface. “Against the Paradoxical Guild” surges ahead with a frantic desire, fleeing desperately through oppressive forests of gloom. For all Lychgate’s maniacal and diabolical vocalizing, an underlying despair permeates the album. Soaring tremolos rise from the gloom on a cloud of hope leading into the carnivorous carnival keys and blast-beaten black metal destruction of “In Self Ruin”. Solos walk the line between sanity and madness as a twisted jester’s evil revenge drips from every pore.
Working the balance of pace, blazing percussion and windblown low end and methodical higher frequencies advance through the murk of consciousness. The listener is affected by a sense of fear and apprehension blanketed in a fog of longing (“Sceptre to Control the World”) in a frantic attempt to escape the overwhelming feeling of dread introduced by the haunting keys. Choral chanting and eerie organs provide angelic reverberations and organic vibrations which transcend the physical plane. The martial beat of “Triumphalism” leads to a headlong flight into the heat of battle. Swirling riffs entwine the listener, mentally crushing your essence to a pale husk to be carried away the winds of ugliness.
At a slightly slower pace, the swelling riffs of “Dust of a Gun Barrel” push out at the membranes of sound with melancholic and forlorn acoustics. Despondent cries, pounding drums and crushing guitars hammer away at your mind threatening to bathe your world in pain. Closer “When Scorn Can Scourge No More” sees a headless horseman galloping away bearing the souls of the jaded and broken, transporting them to feed the blackened mass throbbing in the underbelly of humanity. Clean tones and doom-drenched bottom end are laced into the track balancing the two on a fulcrum of hate and disgust.
A clarity of production ensures every malicious sound is heard. Imperial-sized black metal drags the listener down a black hole of loathing and anguish into the gaping maw of Lychgate’s infernal majesty. Lychgate is a harrowing experience not for the faint of heart guaranteed to shrivel your soul into a black mass with its dense sonics and disorienting vocal ministrations. Open the Lychgate and beware.
Delivering a very impressive debut self-titled album, Lychgate combines highly atmospheric music with brutal Black Metal in a very crushing and terrifying way. Featuring tracks form the band’s ‘dormant’ years, this release carves out perfectly songs that are both chilling and very harsh. With over 37 minutes of music, this release is by far one of the best we have reviewed this year when it comes to Atmospheric Black Metal.
Hailing from the UK, the band warms up with “The Inception”, an dense and creepy mood setting intro. When the first track, “Resentment” arrives, the dramatic keyboards/organs create a very bleak and commanding atmosphere, but it is ultimately the riffing that completes the band’s awesome wall of sound. Having elements of bands like Way to End and Nidingr, the band’s sound is hellish and very well constructed.
One of our favorite track is “Against the Paradoxical Guild”, featuring incisive guitar work and a very doomy and ethereal pace. Mixing said passages with crushing blast beats and extremely raw and harsh BM shrieks, the band creates the perfect atmosphere to disturb event the biggest BM fans. Songs like “In Self Ruin” are more traditional and direct, filled with pounding guitars and creepy keyboards. While songs like “Sceptre to Control the World” focus more on building atmosphere and deliver lush instrumental passages that are nicely contrasted by blistering drums and the excellent singing.
After a trippy intermezzo, the band gets ready to pummel their way through tracks like “Triumphalism” and “Dust of a Gun Barrel”, both very atmospheric and filled with mournful vocals and powerful guitar layers. The album’s best track is the extremely catchy “When Scorn Can Scourge No More”. We particularly love the super engaging riffs and very interesting tempo, giving an insight into the band’s musical depth and excellent composition skills.
While not being your average Black Metal release, Lychgate has managed to make a huge statement with their debut release. The band perfectly balances crushing Black Metal passages with very dramatic atmospheric elements to create a truly haunting and devastating sound. Claiming that this release represents their ‘slow’ period, we are very excited to hear how much have they evolved over the years and how far will they take their very dynamic sound. If you like atmospheric BM, there is no excuse for you not buying this excellent release.
For a genre as steeped in the rich, pungent peat of occult historicism as black metal, Lychgate is nearly a perfect band name. A lychgate is a small gate topped with a pointed wooden roof at the entrance to a churchyard. Its historical significance was not so much as an entrance to the church, however, but as the place where the church priest would meet the corpse at the start of the burial rite. The medieval English landscape was, in fact, etched and scribbled with a latticework of footpaths called ‘corpse roads,’ which connected parishes to the cemeteries in which their dead had the right to be buried. (Rights which were due as much - if not more - to the church’s interest in tax revenue and political control as to geography and tradition.)
The dead have their architecture, their transportation, their infrastructure.
But onward, to more pressing matters. Lychgate’s self-titled debut album writes a syllabus from the combined history of the band’s four members which ought to, sound unheard, make Lychgate a no-brainer connoisseur’s choice. Despite having emerged seemingly fully-formed, Lychgate isn’t entirely a new band: It started in 2001 as a solo project of Vortigern (who handles guitars, organ, and keyboards on the album) under the name Archaicus. After a demo apiece in 2003 and 2004, the project apparently fell dormant, but reactivated in 2012 by adding Greg Chandler of Esoteric on guitars and vocals, Tom Vallely of Omega Centauri on drums, and Aran, mastermind of the much-missed Lunar Aurora, on bass. Such an embarrassingly rich roster is certainly enough to warrant a name change to mark the occasion.
Lychgate’s music is black metal in both form and effect, but it moves with just enough of a wobbly tilt that it suggests orthodoxy refashioned from muscle memory after a long sleep. That is, it blasts and crunches and howls and tremolos - as one does - but in a way that somehow feels exploratory and reflective, like the fingers of a hand needling into some dark, recessed cave and groping on a familiar form that the mind can’t yet place. Chandler’s vocals, as always, are forceful and dripping with arcane feeling, and yet every bit as suitable to Lychgate’s swooning, sideways black-and-sometimes-doom attack as to Esoteric’s world-birthing psychedelic funeral doom. While Lychgate occasionally weaves in medieval symphonic patterns that call to mind a more restrained version of early Emperor or Abigor (see “Against the Paradoxical Guild, for example), the band also delves into atmospheric excursions and minimally avant-garde rhythmic digressions without losing the thread consistent, terminal darkness. (See, for example, the tumbling, off-time opening of “Dust of a Gun Barrel.")
Vortigern’s keyboards and organs are a crucial ingredient, though used with respectable restraint. They add a massive, liturgical density to Lychgate’s sound, which typically walks deliberately down a long passageway, occasionally throwing open a door and exploring a doomier side compartment. I called Lychgate a “connoisseur’s choice,” and although the term sounds fairly, well, dickish, I think there’s something important to it: Lychgate makes the kind of black metal that newer devotees of the genre may overlook as insufficiently aggressive or inventive. That’s only because the band has wisely avoided needless flash in favor of deep, affecting melodicism and an understated... Hell, I hate to say ‘playfulness,’ but that’s what it seems like. As though, within the grim and harrowing confines of this chosen musical form, the band is collectively pushing out the walls, stretching the seams, finding a hidden slipstream or unexplored recursive loop of sound and exulting in it, however briefly. For those listeners more attuned to adjustments in miniature and incremental novelties, Lychgate will slowly become a revelation: understood only for a moment and then lost, leaving behind a memory you can’t name but won’t forget; a dim shape glimpsed through the heat shimmer of a baked plain or below the deep rippled surface of a quiet inlet.
The dead are like that, too; on their roads, through their gates, in their murmuring sleep.
In het beste geval is het geheel van muziek beter dan de som der delen. Mooi, die pretentieuze eerste zin hebben we ook weer gehad. Het geheel van Lychgate is eigenlijk precies gelijk aan de som der delen, maar met deze delen is dat niet eens zo ramzalig. De heren Tom Vallely (Omega Centauri), Greg Chandler (Esoteric) en Aran (Lunar Aurora) hadden klaarblijkelijk een stevig gevalletje side-project-koorts. Hoe anders valt te verklaren dat men zich om een zekere Vortigern verzamelde om deze band te vormen. Dat lijkt ook al een tijdje aan de gang te zijn, want dit titelloze debuut bevat materiaal dat het daglicht zag tussen 2002 en 2011.
De herkenbare vocalen van Greg Chandler zorgen er al meteen voor dat Lychgate sterk aan Esoteric doet denken. Het feit dat beide bands op een zelfde wijze gebruikmaken van gitaareffecten en synth om dikke lagen textuurmateriaal te creren, versterkt die indruk. Het tempo is wel heel anders, aangezien de black metal minded leden van Lychgate dat aardig hoog weten te houden, deels met dank aan zeer woest riffwerk. Al met al werkt dit heel goed. Chandler verzorgt ook mix en mastering, en dat levert een erg goed, maar wederom ook erg herkenbare sound op. Dit album is echt goed, maar men zou er wellicht goed aan doen om toch net iets meer bij al die Esoteric stijlelementen uit de buurt te blijven. Aangezien het volgende album er al snel aankomt, namelijk in 2014, en dit zich zal richten op materiaal dat tussen het afgelopen jaar en nu geschreven is, heeft men in ieder geval de mogelijkheid om zich door te ontwikkelen. We zullen zien.
At best, it is the whole of music better than the sum of its parts. Nicely, that pretentious first sentence we have had weather. The whole of Lychgate is exactly equal to the sum of its parts, but these parts is not so ramzalig. Mr. Tom Vallely (Omega Centauri), Greg Chandler (Esoteric) and Aran (Lunar Aurora) apparently had a hearty gevalletje side project Fever. How else to explain that one to a certain Vortigern gathered to form this band. That also seems to have been going on for a while, because this self-titled debut contains material which saw daylight between 2002 and 2011.
The distinctive vocals of Greg Chandler immediately to ensure that Lychgate strongly reminiscent Esoteric. The fact that both bands in a similar manner using guitar and synth effects to create thick layers of texture material, reinforced that impression. The pace is very different, as the black metal minded members of Lychgate that managed to keep pretty high, partly thanks to very furious riffing. All in all, this works very well. Chandler also provides mix and mastering, and as a very good, but again very recognizable sound on. This album is really good, but one might do well to do just to stay a little longer at all those Esoteric style elements from the neighborhood. As the next album is coming soon, namely in 2014, and it will focus on material written between last year and now, they have at least the opportunity to develop themselves through. We shall see.
Odin knows I fucken hate symfo black metal with a passion. But this… this is something else. Holy
crap. What do you get when you throw members from Lunar Aurora, Esoteric, Omega Centauri and Spearhead together? You get this weird hybrid of symfo black metal, death metal and snail-paced weighty doom metal. But what did you expect? The line-up includes Benjamin König (ex-Lunar Aurora), Greg Chandler (Esoteric), Thomas Vallely (Omega Centauri) and Vortigern (ex-Spearhead), so the combined experience alone makes it worthy of the supergroup tag. Symfo black metal usually makes me run to the hills - but here’s finally a band that understands the power of the genre, and knows how to combine it with the strengths of its other influences. I can’t stress enough how well composed this record is. It sounds gloomy, mesmerizing, engaging, very strange and wholly uncomfortable and alien, as it should be with this type of metal. I could probably point to diSEMBOWELMENT, as this band also goes from snail-paced dirges into sudden explosions of blasts, and there’s a similar usage of fleeting melodies. The synthesizers and organs are supplementary and actually add a lot to the gloom and doom of this record. Symfo black metal that doesn’t sound fucken fruity, it still exists. Holy cow. I can’t really single out a specific stand out track, cos all these tracks are superb in their own ways. Oh sure, they wear masks and robes, but is that novel? No, Satanochio from Romania has been doing this when this band was still called Archaicus. Why this band is still on the tiny label imprint Mordgrimm is something I’ll never understand. So, any which way you spin it, “Lychgate” is the record you need to hear this year. Forget what you are “supposed” to listen to, and give these men a chance. You won’t regret it. I need up the dosage of my medicine if I’m going to listen to this regularly.
Trebuie sa recunosc ca pana sa vad numele Lychgate pe afisul cu primele confirmari pentru cea de a doua editie a festivalului November to Dismember, habar nu aveam de existenta acestei gasti britanice. De curiozitate, am luat legatura cu grupul pentru a realiza un interviu, iar trupetii au fost destul de amabili incat sa trimita si discul lor de debut in format mp3. L-am ascultat si l-am tot ascultat si pot spune ca britanicii au destul de mult potential pentru a deveni un grup de urmarit.
Suna sincer si corect, dar muzica lor ar putea fi greu de digerat in unele momente. Ce propun? Un melanj de black metal, doom/death, progressive si avant-garde. Ceva frumos ce aminteste intr-un fel de Arcturus, dar si de Blut aus Nord si totusi nu se opreste doar aici. Cumva suna a ceva ce cu siguranta ai mai auzit, asta daca nu este pentru prima data cand asculti astfel de sonoritati, dar are ceva aparte, care face ca Lychgate sa fie un grup special. Incursiunile de orga si clape ale lui Vortigern creaza o atmosfera ce cade precum o ceata densa peste haosul sonor controlat ce este prezentat de catre ai sai colegi de trupa. Totusi chiar daca vorbim despre un grup relativ nou, in Lychgate activeaza muzicieni cu greutate pentru scena extrema. Asadar, Greg Chandler este nimeni altul decat unul dintre parintii spirituali ai legendarului grup britanic Esoteric, iar Aran este cunoscut publicului larg in special pentru activitatea depusa in Lunar Aurora.
Melodic, dar malefic in acelasi timp, albumul de debut Lychgate poate fi un produs greu de digerat pentru ascultatorul ce cauta doar black metal. As putea spune ca Lychgate s-ar potrivi mai degraba unui ascultator de doom/death care asculta fara probleme si black metal-ul anilor '90 si pentru care sonoritatile experimentale nu sunt un taram strain. Inchei prin a spune ca la cat de bine se prezinta Lychgate, inclin sa cred ca este o chestiune de timp pana cand trupa va reusi sa faca pasul la nivelul urmator. Fiecare etapa trebuie parcursa, pentru ca daca nu faci ce trebuie atunci cand trebuie, reusita poate sa ramana pe hartie sau doar in minte.
I must admit that until Lychgate name on the poster to see the first confirmations for the second edition of November to Dismember, I had no idea of the existence of this British gangs. Out of curiosity, I contacted the group to interview, and the band members were kind enough to send their debut disc and mp3. I listened and listened and we all can say that the British have pretty much potential to become a group to follow.
Call honest and fair, but their music could be difficult to digest at times. What I propose? A mix of black metal, doom / death, progressive and avant-garde. Something nice in a way reminiscent of Arcturus, but also Blut Aus Nord and yet does not just stop here. Somehow definitely sounds like something you've heard, that if not for the first time listening to these sounds, but has something special that makes Lychgate be a special group. Incursions of organ and keyboards creates an atmosphere of Vortigern's falling like a dense fog over the sound controlled chaos that is presented by the band of his colleagues. But even if it's a relatively new group in active Lychgate musicians Stage extreme weight. So Greg Chandler is none other than one of the spiritual fathers of the legendary British group Esoteric and Aran is widely known especially for work done in Lunar Aurora.
Melodic, but evil at the same time Lychgate debut album may be a stodgy looking only for black metal listener. I could say that would fit Lychgate rather a listener doom / death listening smoothly and 90s black metal and experimental sonorities that are not in an alien land. I conclude by saying how well it shows Lychgate inclined to believe it's a matter of time before the band will be able to take the step to the next level. Each step must be crossed, because if you do you need when you need, success can only remain on paper or in your mind.
Mais uma banda de black metal do Reino Unido que se estreia com este álbum auto-intitulado. O black metal aqui contido é tudo menos convencional, tendo muito da sua atmosfera típica mas indo buscar muitos elementos ao death metal ocultista e mais experimental, sem esquecer algumas pitadas de doom. Com membros experientes no underground, onde quase todos tiveram experiências em one-man-bands, exceptuando-se Greg A. Chandler, vocalista, teclista e guitarrista dos Esoteric, que aqui dedica-se à voz e guitarras.
Em alguns momentos, a convencionalidade dá ar de sua graça como em "Against The Paradoxical Guild", mas até mesmo nesta música, os elementos sinfónicos e, porque não, avant-garde e atmosféricos, têm uma enorme importância marcando a posição de que a abordagem à audição deste disco terá de ser feita de maneira diferente do que àquilo que normalmente é exigido a um álbum de black metal, havendo até um certo factor nostálgico, criando as mesmas imagens que os projectos dos anos noventa criavam - "In Self Ruin" e "Sceptre To Control The World" poderia estar no primeiro álbum dos Emperor.
Para os conhecedores dos projectos que fazem parte do passado dos membros da banda, como os Lunar Aurora, Omega Centauri e/ou Archaicus, faixas como "Triumphalism" não soarão totalmente estranhas, embora a já mencionada influência Emperor seja sempre preponderante. Um trabalho que recupera o bom nome no que diz respeito ao black metal sinfónico, não deixando de ser e mostrar muito mais do que o género engloba. Como curiosidade resta dizer que para quem pode achar o trabalho muito frio na sua produção - e quando digo frio refiro-me ao facto de poder soar pouco orgânico, muito digital - o mesmo foi produzido sem edição, isto é, foi tocado, sem copy/paste, sem truques de estúdio, o que só valoriza o que se ouve aqui. Excelente estreia.
Another band of black British metal debuts with this self-titled album. The black metal contained herein is anything but conventional, and much of their typical atmosphere but fetching many elements to occult death metal and more experimental, not forgetting a few pinches of doom. With experienced members in the underground, where almost all had experiences in one-man-bands, except in Greg A. Chandler, vocalist, keyboardist and guitarist Esoteric, here is dedicated to voice and guitars.
At times, the conventionality gives air of his grace as in "Against The Paradoxical Guild", but even this music, symphonic elements and, why not, avant-garde and air, have a huge importance as a placeholder for the approach to hearing this disc will have to be done differently than what is normally required of a black metal album, with up to a certain nostalgic factor, creating the same images that projects nineties created - "In Self Ruin" and "Sceptre to Control the World" could be the first album of the Emperor.
For connoisseurs of projects that are part of the past of the band members, as the Lunar Aurora, Omega Centauri and / or Archaicus, tracks like "triumphalism" will not sound quite strange, though the aforementioned influence Emperor is always predominant. A job that retrieves the good name with regard to symphonic black metal, whilst being and show much more than gender encompasses. As a curiosity remains to be said that for those who can find the very cold work in their production - and when I say cold I mean the fact that it may sound a little organic, very digital - it was produced without editing, that is, was played without copy / paste, no studio tricks, which only value what is heard here. Excellent debut.
LYCHGATE’s history begins back in 2001, when Vortigern created the band and handled all instruments. Only a couple of demos where released (“Beneath In Horizon” in 2003 and “The Elder Scape” in 2004) and both of them received very good reviews. Then the band went into hiatus and Vortigern was involved in other projects (THE ONE, ORPHEUS, SPEARHEAD). In 2012 the band went active again and with the help of G. A. Chandler (ESOTERIC), Aran (LUNAR AURORA) and T. J. F. Vallely (OMEGA CENTAURI), the self-titled debut was recorded and released. LYCHGATE is currently working on their second album that will be released next year.
During the first album spin, it became clear to me that “Lychgate” is a great example of atmospheric Black Metal. LYCHGATE have successfully combined all the beautiful aspects of Black Metal; and that means fast outbursts, plenty of blast beats and fast solos. At the same time LYCHGATE dare to enhance their sound with mid-tempo and slow tunes. But that’s not all since the muddy production that also keeps vocals one step behind the instruments, combined with the keyboards creates a haunting and eerie atmosphere. The icing on this Black Metal cake is G. A. Chandler shrieking vocals that shine during the entire album. The occasional growling are responsible for the dark and evil touch to the songs.
Once more I will say that “Lychgate” is a beautiful atmospheric release that will satisfy all the fans of Black Metal. A fantastic job has been done on all the instruments, plus the addition of keyboards (at least for my taste) spices things up, creating a twisting and grandiose atmosphere (like in the instrumental piece “Intermezzo”). In other words, don’t miss this release.
When a group of musicians decides to start a black metal project, there are certain aspects they try to obtain: the usual instruments - durable guitars, bass, and drums - and a vocalist with a raspy tone. Using an organ isn’t what one tries to sell to their kvlt black metal buddies, but Lychgate proudly boasts its presence on their eponymous debut. On a good portion of the album, the organ is integral to the stomach-churning atmosphere devised by the band. The organ isn’t the lone highlight, as Lychgate proves capable of handling black metal with substance.
One of Lychgate’s strengths is how they keep control of the tempos and pacing of their music. Black metal can disembark into a soulless canyon of repetitive noise if put into the wrong hands (excluding those who do that on purpose). There’s an audience who will devour blast beats for 40 minutes, but even the greats, like Immortal and Mayhem, didn’t just produce their first album multiple times over. Lychgate makes sure to not have to run into that situation if or when future recordings happen.
Instead of just relying on tremolo-picked guitars and sonic rhythm blasting, the band favors inserting those into spots that will give them the most value. Instead of numbing, they terrify with their incorporation after extended periods of grounded tempos. “Sceptre to Control the World” churns around a level-headed pace that implodes into hateful reproach about halfway through. “Against the Paradoxical Guild” is another track that does this in a respectable manner.
The instances where the more traditional values dispel is not a usual occurrence, at least not for extended periods. That gives their use a greater sense of urgency to the album. “In Self Ruin” appears after two well-mannered tunes to turn the intensity up, with shred-heavy guitar solos to let the chaos pour out. “When Scorn Can Scourge No More” is a straightforward closer, and though it’s not as quick to the punch as “In Self Ruin,” it still amasses quantities of intensity to work from.
Though the organ is prominent, this isn’t a symphonic-heavy album. There aren’t programmed orchestral flourishes, so Lychgate can’t get lumped in with Dimmu Borgir or Cradle of Filth. There are choirs incorporated into the interlude “Intermezzo,” but that’s as far as they get to the whole “symphonic black metal” label. The band dabbles with acoustic guitars on “Dust of a Gun Barrel,” a calming aura that’s is hindered by being buried low in the mix.
Lychgate set out to avoid appearing like stale newcomers with this self-titled effort. These guys are sharp writers, not just plugging away mindlessly on their instruments. The vocals are lethal, the guitars go beyond playing static riffs, and the drums make variety in the beats a top priority. This music is candy for the tooth-decayed misfits who can’t be satisfied anymore by dry and bland black metal.
Highs: Black metal with some surprises, grounded tempos allow for variety beyond typical blast beats and tremolo-picked riffs, organ used throughout the album to drench the album in a harrowing atmosphere
Lows: Use of acoustic guitar is lost in the thick of things
Bottom line: Lychgate puts in a stellar effort on their noteworthy self-titled debut
Ihned poté, co jsem zaregistroval informace o chystaném projektu, ve kterém účinkují taková esa, jako jsou Greg Chandler, Vortigern a hlavně Aran, zbystřil jsem, a v očekávání značně netrpělivém jsem dychtil zjistit, zda hvězdná sestava vytvoří materiál hodný jejich jmen, nebo nám naservírují pouhou akademickou nudu. A výsledek? Ten předčil moje očekávání.
Zmíněné rafany doplňuje ještě technický talent - drummer Tom Vallely, abych tedy byl kompletní. Spojení tvůrčích mozků takového formátu je zkrátka fascinující. Je zajímavé sledovat, kterak vůdčí osobnosti spolupracují pro zájem celku. Aran na postu baskytary nádherně zapadl a přitom strhává dostatek pozornosti ke svému, druhdy opomíjenému nástroji. LYCHGATE jsou dle kuloárů pokračováním Vortigernova atmosféricky black metalového projektu ARCHAICUS, ve kterém hrál na všechny nástroje.
Ostatně jsou v LYCHGATE kromě Grega všichni multiinstrumentalisté, kteří se žádného nástroje nebojí. Greg si ale plně vystačí se svojí kytarou a hlavně neskutečným hlasem. Právě on mě překvapil z celé sestavy nejvíce.
V ESOTERIC zkouší různé polohy growlingu, ale v LYCHGATE rozeřval svůj chřtán naplno. Chvílemi bych jej ani nepoznal. Démonické skřeky a řevy, co se z jeho hrdla ozývají, by strčily do kapsy kdekterého black metalového zpěváka.
Na co se teda můžeme vlastně těšit? Hlavně na black metal. Těžkého kalibru podotýkám. Pánové se nebojí na ploše kratičké, nepřesahující 38 minut, zaplnit prostor hudbou působící mohutněji a epičtěji, než jim stopáž dovoluje. V podstatě jako Tardis – navenek malá a krátká deska, ale ve vnitřku je ohromná. Ale vraťme se zpět z sci-fi metafor.
Symfonické ozvuky nejsou shazovány prázdnou bombastičností. Je tvořena „jen“ skladatelskými postupy a zvláštní atmosférou, která se nezdráhá zabrouzdat ani do sfér progrese či jakési avantgardy. Hudebníci jsou to ale vyspělí a vyrovnaní, a tak jejich přesahy nejsou krkolomné a snažící se o zoufalá gesta. Všechno jakoby plně přirozeně plyne. Přes mnou zmíněné atmosférické či avantgardní artefakty je ale debut „Lychgate“ plnokrevný black metal s nenávistnou atmosférou. Další pocity jako pohrdání, ironie, ale také zvláštní smutek, se s onou nenávistí zvláštně pojí v majestátní vážnost. Taková „In Self Ruin“ dává vzpomenout třeba i na Emperor. To jen pro příklad, kde se LYCHGATE pohybují. Nejsilnější pocity zažívám ale v instrumentálním předělu „Intermezzo“ a následovné pecce „Triumphalism“. Parádní sbory ze smyček v úvodu rázem doplní dekadentní nářez a úžasný Greg. Když nad tím přemýšlím, nemá smysl vytahovat hity. Protože bych asi vyjmenoval všechny songy. Snad jen upozorním na „Dust of a Gun Barrel“, kde v úvodu dost slyším Gregovo působiště.
Immediately after I noticed about the upcoming project, which act such aces such as Greg Chandler, Vortigern and especially Aran, I tensed, and in anticipation of very impatient, I was eager to find out whether the stellar assembly creates a material worthy of their names or email us served to mere academic boredom. And the result? It exceeded my expectations.
These RAFANI complimented technical talent - drummer Tom Vallely, I was therefore complete. The combination of creative minds such format is simply fascinating. It is interesting to see how leaders work together for the interest of the whole. Aran to post bass wonderfully fit and still pulls enough attention to her, once neglected instrument. LYCHGATE are proceeding according lobbies Vortigernova atmospheric black metal project ARCHAICUS, in which he played all the instruments.
Indeed, in addition to Greg LYCHGATE all multi-instrumentalists who are not afraid of any tools. But Greg fully enough with his guitar and most incredible voice. It was he surprised me most in the whole group.
The Esoteric trying different positions Growling, but LYCHGATE roared its mouth full. Sometimes I did not recognize him. Demonic shrieks and bellows what is heard from his throat, would pocketed kdekterého black metal singer.
So what are we actually look forward to? Especially on black metal. Heavy caliber, I note. Gentlemen or the desktop very short, not exceeding 38 minutes to fill the space with music and acting violently epičtěji than they footage allows. Basically as Tardis - outwardly small and short board, but the interior is enormous. But back to the sci-fi imagery.
Symphonic echoes are trivialized empty bombast. It consists of "only" composer procedures and special atmosphere which does not hesitate to zabrouzdat even into the realms of progression or some sort of avant-garde. Musicians are not yet mature and balanced in their laps are awkward and eager to desperate gestures. Everything seemed completely naturally follows. Despite my aforementioned atmospheric avant-garde or artifacts but debut "Lychgate" full-blooded black metal with hateful atmosphere. Other feelings such as contempt, irony, but also a sadness, hate it with that strangely united in majestic solemnity. Such "In Self Ruin" gives remember even at Emperor. The only example where LYCHGATE move. The strongest feelings I experience but instrumental remake of "Intermezzo" and subsequently Pip "triumphalism". Great choirs of loops in the beginning suddenly complement decadent cuts and amazing Greg. When you think about it, it makes no sense to pull hits. Because I probably enumerated all the songs. Perhaps only briefly refer to "Dust of a Gun Barrel", where at the beginning rather hear Greg sphere.
Founded as a one man band in 2001 under the Archaicus moniker, Lychgate changed its name and line-up in 2012 when it became a quartet. I don't know if there's any link with the now defunct Archaicus except for the founding member but Archaicus only released 2 demos in '03 and '04, I doubt the nowadays Lychgate style has anything to do with the past. Anyway, this is Lychgate's debut album, an impressive, extremely solid, complex, emotional and almost mesmerizing effort that will certainly challenge you to resist being drawn in its nets. It's not brutal to leave you breathless, it's not melodic enough to be considered soft, it's not complex to a point where you don't understand a thing, and it's not tormenting or desperate enough for being considered DSBM, but instead has the right amount of all these. Now I don't know if this is a good choice for them as some of you will require more speed and intensity all the time, some of you won't enjoy the slow, depressive parts, but if you're looking for something in the middle, with excellent compositions and execution Lychgate is the right choice, I'm impressed.
Bien, antes de comenzar a hablar acerca del trabajo en cuestión, creo que sería conveniente ponernos en antecedentes.
Lychgate es una banda asentada en Inglaterra que cuenta en sus filas con miembros de nada menos que los titanes y copropietarios del Funeral Doom Esoteric, así como un militante de la nueva promesa emergente en la facción más moderna del Black Metal Omega Centauri y el que fuera una mitad de los ya extintos Lunar Aurora.
En este contexto lo lógico es pensar que el trabajo resultante del esfuerzo conjunto de todas estas mentes ha de ser, como mínimo, aceptable; pues bien, no sólo eso, mis ansias y expectativas por escucharlo eran inconscientemente justificadas puesto que lo que tenemos delante es excepcional. La creación de este discreto súper grupo echa la totalidad de sus raíces en el terreno del Black Metal, sin embargo; numerosos elementos, como las atmósferas que un órgano es capaz de parir, y la inquietud por inspeccionar parajes más técnicos que sustituyan la rapidez y la estridencia del Black Metal per se hacen de este álbum homónimo toda un diamante en bruto de la música extrema más moderna y poco convencional.
Gran parte de toda esta riqueza diría que estriba en la influencia de Greg Chandler en cuanto a la creación de estructuras atmosféricas, argumento de autoridad dada la labor que el músico desempeña en Esoteric, pero sobre todo la magia que es capaz de imprimir Vortigern con el sonido del órgano aferrándose a su propia experiencia como multi instrumentista: Orpheus y Archaicus, banda que supone el germen de Lychgate y cuyo peso caía únicamente sobre sus hombros.
Como ya digo, un porcentaje significativo del encanto se encuentra en el entorno orquestal latente que proporciona el órgano, añadiendo discretos matices sinfónicos que aportan cierta excepcionalidad al conjunto.
Este hecho podemos vislumbrarlo desde el principio; ya en “The Inception” las intenciones filarmónicas destacan de forma sobresaliente (llegando a pensar incluso que iba a tratarse de un álbum de Black Metal sinfónico), pero es con la sucesión de minutos cuando uno se percata de que gracias a detalles como éste se conforma un Black Metal atípico sustentado en melodías y acordes típicos de tal género.
En composiciones como “Against the Paradoxical Guild” y “In Self Ruin” se antoja complejo un análisis porque la variedad es exuberante: desde arpegios melódicos y blast beats que caen los patrones del género, hasta proyecciones ambiciosas en las seis cuerdas que generan elementos vanguardistas y psicóticos, más si cabe, cuando resultan acompañados de atmósferas ceremoniales que bien podrían pasar por barrocas.
Por último mencionar el carácter genérico, que aún así no eclipsa ni un ápice de gloria, de “Triumphalism” y “Sceptre to Control the World”, destacable por el reparto de minutos de forma equitativa entre los compases a medio tiempo y la velocidad neurótica que culmina en un clímax donde el conjunto de los instrumentos al unísono descargan impasibles. “Dust of a Gun Barrel”, por otra parte, se muestra muy rica en cambios de tiempo, convirtiéndose en una composición imprevisible donde interludios acústicos se mezclan con pasajes disonantes y arreones llenos de ira para dar nombre a una de las mejores, o la mejor, pieza de Lychgate.
No es necesario decir mucho más; este debut cumple los requerimientos técnicos – pudiendo alardear de una producción meritoria – musicales y conceptuales, mostrándose filosóficamente incognoscibles, que cualquier álbum ha de cubrir para catalogarse de “magnífico”. Pese a que todos los cortes que componen la obra datan de 2011, no se sabe si desde tal fecha a día de hoy el único propósito de la banda ha sido llenar de matices cada una de las partes para así llegar a tan magno resultado; lo que sí está claro es que junto a la obra maestra de Aosoth, Lychgate está nominado al álbum de Black Metal del año.
Well, before you start talking about the work in question, I think it would be put on record.
Lychgate settled in England is a band that has in its ranks with members of nothing less than the Titans and co-owners of Funeral Doom Esoteric and a militant of the emerging new promise in the most modern faction of Black Metal Omega Centauri and it was a half extinct Lunar Aurora.
In this context it is logical to think that the work arising from the joint effort of all these minds must be at least acceptable; Well, not only that, my anxieties and expectations were unconsciously listen justified since it before us is exceptional. The creation of this discrete supergroup check all its roots in the field of Black Metal, though; many elements such as the atmospheres that a body is able to give birth, and concerns about inspecting more technical sites to replace the speed and stridency of Black Metal per se make this eponymous album a rough diamond all the latest extreme music and unconventional.
Much of this wealth is to say that the influence of Greg Chandler regarding the creation of atmospheric structures, authority argument given the work that the musician plays in Esoteric, but especially the magic that is capable of printing Vortigern with sound clinging to his own experience as multi instrumentalist organ: Orpheus and Archaicus, band representing the germ of Lychgate, weighing only fell on his shoulders.
As I say, a significant percentage of the charm is in the latent orchestral environment that provides the body, adding discrete symphonic overtones that bring some uniqueness to the whole.
This fact can glimpse from the beginning; and in "The Inception" philharmonic intentions stand outstandingly (reaching even think that would be a symphonic Black Metal album), but the succession of minutes when one realizes that thanks to details like this are atypical forms a Black Metal sustained in melodies and chords typical of such genre.
In compositions like "Against the Paradoxical Guild" and "In Self Ruin" seems complex analysis because the variety is abundant: from melodic arpeggios and blast beats that fall gender patterns to ambitious projections in the six strings that create avant-garde elements and psychotic, more so, when they are accompanied by ceremonial atmosphere that could pass for baroque.
Finally mention the generic, that still does not eclipse none of glory, "triumphalism" and "Sceptre to Control the World", remarkable for sharing equitably minutes between bars at halftime and neurotic speed culminating in a climax where all the instruments in unison downloading impassive. "Dust Barrel of a Gun", moreover, is very rich in changes of time, becoming an unpredictable composition where acoustic interludes are mixed with dissonant passages and arreones filled with anger to name one of the best, or better piece of Lychgate.
No need to say more; This debut meets the technical requirements - can boast of a meritorious production - musical and conceptual, showing philosophically unknowable, that any album cover has to be classified as "magnificent". Despite all the cuts that make up the work dating from 2011, is not known whether from that date today the sole purpose of the band has been filled with nuances each of the parties in order to reach as grand result; what is clear is that with AOSOTH masterpiece, Lychgate is nominated Black Metal album of the year.
Master horror writer, Stephen King once described what truly scares people. Coming up with three different types of what we know as fear, "The Gross-out: the sight of a severed head tumbling down a flight of stairs… Horror: the unnatural, spiders the size of bears, the dead waking up… and the last and worse one: Terror, when you come home and notice everything you own had been taken away and replaced by an exact substitute. It's when the lights go out and you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear, but when you turn around, there's nothing there". Fear of the unknown; a vagueness, an ambiguity that presents us with a limit to our knowledge, language, and security. Lychgate, a group created by like-minded musicians from several already respected bands in black metal, death metal and funeral doom, brilliantly embody that third aspect of fear--terror. A feeling that when left unchecked can bring about absolute insanity, even in the most reasonable of us.
Their self titled debut impressively delivers a cacophony of monstrous guitar tones, relentless drum work and organs, ominous in their application and execution, each preying on our anxieties. The organ, while perhaps not the first instrument chosen when planning to play any genre of extreme music, nonetheless offers Lychgate an immense, macabre element to their sound. Helping them realize this sense of shadowy uneasiness that runs throughout the cold veins of the album as evidenced in "In Self Ruin". Other tracks like "Against the Paradoxical Guild" take advantage of Greg Chandler's bloodcurdling screams while the dynamics of the song highlight some of best tendencies of the black metal genre. Parallel to, at times, the 'wall of sound' used by some of Norway's more melodic bands during the second wave, like Emperor. The blast beats and tremolo riffs don't so much as bury you but instead focus more on enveloping you as they are used sparingly and at the most advantageous moments.
"Sceptre to Control the World" develops a more mid-pace brooding sound that showcases the groups ties with death metal and funeral doom. The grooves and rhythms set the mood while the drums pick up steam halfway through with a galloping frenzy topped off by Chandler's tortured grunts. One of the biggest accomplishments Lychgate brings to the table is that none of their instruments were processed. Recorded without the use of any editing validates the musicians merits and leaves the listener amazed at the technicality of the unrevised arrangements. Another worthy achievement the band accomplishes is managing to vary their sound song to song without losing the terrifying palpation felt on the album. Innovating and correlating each track without fluctuating from the core essence is harder done than said--Lychgate adapts themselves perfectly to aforementioned sentiment.
The ending numbers focus more on the death and funeral doom elements more so than black metal, marking a tightening grip as Lychgate engulfs the trepidatious listener. Once again, it comes back to that paralyzing thought, asphyxiation by an overwhelming terror. By the time penultimate number's brief acoustic moment, within the song's vast sound, is over that small crack in the window of hope has been closed off forever in front of you. Like a black hole, Lychgate's sound not only exhausts every viable source of luminescence but also expels it right back out. Left purged and obliterated by the overall experience. The album is a chilling expedition into the cryptic universe occupied by the impenetrable, inexplicable and unavoidable terror that lurks at the crux of their nature.
Much of what draws me to the metal genre is the topic of decay. There’s a fine line of distinction between those musicians and bands fully capable of conveying a respectful sense of wonder at the process of decomposition and those who simply feign interest in the hopes of appearing intimidating or frightening. Those artists and musicians who truly desire to venture outside the confines of what is considered “dark” tend to avoid the clichéd sentiments of purely “evil” or “foreboding” lyrics, instead focusing on the life cycle itself – the equilibrium of the conscious and unconscious. While much of popular music may take a surface level perspective on death and loss, the metal genre has made it a distinctive characteristic to burrow deep into the heart of every aspect of existence and not simply those that conjure up feelings of positivity.
England’s Lychgate are one of many bands whose aesthetic is one reliant far more on the space of sound rather than gimmicky undertones of supposed evil or dread. Just glossing over the band’s Bio or Facebook profile, and you’ll learn their interests are far reaching. Listen to their recently released S/T debut, and that understanding is amplified to a stunning degree. Much like the other bands of its members (including Esoteric and Omega Centauri), Lychgate is as decadent in sound as it is in the subject matter of each song. G.A. Chandler’s vocals work a buzzsaw instrumentation around the blood curdling accuracy of Vortigern (guitars), Aran (bass), and T. J. F. Vallely (drums). Encapsulating the divinity of decay, the album displays the life cycle from the birth of the first track with its Bach-by-way-of-hell pipe organ to the hauntingly gorgeous ending track, “When Scorn Can Scourge No More.”
The use of keyboards/synthesizers in black metal is oftentimes (and rightfully so) looked at with a sort of ambivalence by fans and critics alike. It’s not that the use of them is something inherently bad. It’s simply that their use is somewhat of a decorative piece that’s almost always forgettable. With Lychgate, their usage is paramount to the overall atmosphere of the album. Second track “Resentment” begins with an ominous dirge heralding into a maddening blend of avant-garde black metal and post-metal soundscapes. “Against the Paradoxical Guild” is an absolutely unrelenting composition filling all six minutes and nineteen seconds with the kind of music that bears repeat listens to fully absorb its mastery. Lychgate is that metal album whose atmospheric beauty is teethed with the conception of decay and the inevitability of death. Lychgate was released in April courtesy of Gilead Media and Mordgrimm.
Aunque Lychgate se presenta como un proyecto completamente nuevo, los integrantes que lo forman no son precisamente unos novatos: la banda la conforman ni más ni menos que Greg Chandler (cantante y guitarrista de la banda inglesa de doom psicodélico Esoteric), Aran (de los alemanes Lunar Aurora, recientemente disueltos y que en este caso se encargará del bajo), y Tom Vallely (percusionista de los algo más actuales Omega Centauri). De primeras tres artistas cuya respectiva obra tiene muy poco en común, parece que el denominador común será el interés por la inclusión de ambientes y pasajes atmosféricos en sus respectivos proyectos, algo que curiosamente no será el punto de partida ni un elemento especialmente notable dentro del sonido de Lychgate, sino más bien algo secundario que acompaña los temas de fondo.
Frente a los sonidos más en auge dentro del black metal, Lychgate se posicionan con bastante personalidad alejándose de cualquier tipo de tendencia: sobre una base bastante clásica y de corte europeo de ritmos rápidos se montan unos órganos amenazadores y unas trabajadas guitarras que nos recuerdan claramente a la psicodelia retorcida y delirante de Esoteric. No solo se nota aquí la mano de Greg Chandler sino que los agónicos gritos (más orientados a su registro raspado que al gutural) son también marca de la casa. En definitiva, pese a que el contexto es completamente distinto por tratarse de un género ajeno a la obra del inglés como es el black metal, este se aferra a su peculiar personalidad para no terminar de alejarse de los elementos con los que se siente cómodo para trabajar.
Este primer álbum homónimo, que ronda los 40 minutos, supone un buen ejemplo de que se puede hacer black metal a día de hoy sin vivir de la rentas ni fusilar el sonido de otras bandas. Cierto que no supone una ruptura brutal con el género pero teniendo elementos “prestados” (como pueden ser las ambientaciones en segundo plano sin tomar protagonismo o las varias capas de guitarra que desembocan en ocasionales solos disonantes), el resultado final no supone un calco o una copia en ningún momento. Por último, todo ello se pasa por un filtro que incluso podría recordar a bandas sinfónicas como Emperor, siendo aquí donde parece recae el mayor peso de Aran. En ese sentido podríamos decir que Lychgate beben más de la primera etapa de Lunar Aurora que de la última. Acertada también la duración, pues al tratarse de un disco tan directo no cansa, aunque cuando se aferran a los tiempos más lentos al final del disco pueda parecer que se pierde un poco el ritmo.
En resumidas cuentas, inesperado y breve disco que deja una buena impresión y que aunque sería una buena noticia su continuidad, esperemos que no influya demasiado en el desarrollo del resto de proyectos de sus componentes. De momento nos conformamos con saber que aún queda gente ahí fuera que no compone con el piloto automático puesto.
Although Lychgate is presented as a completely new project, the members that form are not exactly novices: the band make up no less than Greg Chandler (singer and guitarist of the British band of psychedelic doom Esoteric), Aran (the German Lunar Aurora, recently dissolved and in this case will handle the bass) and Tom Vallely (percussionist for more current Omega Centauri). From first three respective artists whose work has very little in common, it seems that the common denominator is the interest in the inclusion of environments and atmospheric passages in their respective projects, which curiously not be the starting point or an element especially noticeable in the Lychgate sound, but rather secondary accompanying substantive issues.
Facing the booming sounds inside the black metal, Lychgate are positioned fairly personality away from any kind of trend on a fairly classic European-based and fast rhythms and a few menacing bodies worked guitars reminiscent clearly mount the twisted psychedelia Esoteric and delirious. Not only the hand of Greg Chandler notes here but the agonized screams (more oriented to their record scraping the guttural) are also house brand. In short, although the context is completely different because it is a foreign genre to the work of English as it is the black metal, this is clinging to his peculiar personality to not finish away from the elements with which they feel comfortable work.
This first album, which is around 40 minutes, is a good example of how to do black metal today live without the income or shooting the sound of other bands. True that there is a brutal break with gender but bearing elements "borrowed" (such as the atmospheres in the background without taking ownership or several layers of guitar that lead to occasional dissonant solos), the end result is not a carbon copy or a copy at any time. Finally, all this is passed through a filter that might even remind symphonic bands like Emperor, being here that seems borne the brunt of Aran. In this sense we could say that Lychgate drink more than the first stage of Lunar Aurora that of the latter. Also correct length, as being a direct drive so not tired, even when they stick to the slower times at the end of the disc may seem to lose a little rhythm.
In short, unexpected and short drive to leave a good impression and that would be good news although its continuity, hopefully not too much influence in the development of other projects of its components. For now we are satisfied with knowing that there are still people out there that do not include the autopilot.
Organs swell. Drums stomp to life. Soaring single notes harmonize and add atmosphere. This is “The Inception.” This funeral march is leading us somewhere. Probably the graves of its victims, who are most likely every single other Doom-cum-Black Metal release this year. Lychgate’s self-titled 2013 debut is surprising, stirring, horrifying, and engrossing.
This frightening foursome features members of funeral doom stalwarts, and one of my personal favorites, Esoteric and now defunct Black Metal act Lunar Aurora. Imagine an amalgam of the two, with a little bit of the sickening atmosphere of Tyranny’s Bleak Vistae, and a touch of progressive that reminds of Ihsahn’s solo work, and you might be on your way. The result feels like a warped soundtrack of the surrealist Robert Wiene films of the 20’s like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. It’s an evil, off-kilter, swirling, vortex of ProgressiveDoomBlack Metal that keeps you on the absolute edge of your seat. It begs repeat listens because you’re afraid you’ve missed something.
The aforementioned opening track is a short glimpse of what’s to come. Second track “Resentment” is a mid-paced, malicious number that shows exactly what this album has to offer. Some blackened riffing, some slower Funeral Doom moments, and all the while the putrid vocals growl like vocalist Greg Chandler (Esoteric) eagerly awaits devouring your charred corpse at the end. Track 4, “In Self Ruin” is a standout not only for its quality, but its brevity and ferocity. At 3:30, it is the shortest and fastest number on the album. Vicious blast beats, furious tremolo grinding, haunting pipe organs, it’s all here and it’s unbelievable. If I had to complain about something, it would be that there isn’t another shredder like this on the album.
There are honestly many more moments like this that are masterfully injected into the slower songs on the album. They punctuate the Funeral Doom sensibilities and add just the right amount of barrage to keep this album from being labeled as anything else. “Sceptre To Control The World” exemplifies their ability to intermingle between genres without ever losing a step. It is slow, fast, grating, haunting, and more. “Triumphalism” is another of the speedier tracks on the album without falling into a complete assault. And finally we’re left with “When Scorn Can Scourge No More.” The 4 minute closer is mid tempo and melodic. The leads really soar in this one, with notes raining down through the vile atmosphere to bring with them tiny flashes of the light beyond the perpetual darkness.
This record doesn’t so much attack your senses as much as it slowly poisons them. Each song more sulfurous than the next. It one of those gems that sound both modern and timeless. Were this released 15 years ago, it would be a cult classic today in 2013. In 2028, I’ll bet people looking for “old school Black Metal classics” are going to get hip to this record by 50 year old curmudgeons like me who are yearning for the good old days.
For some time now, Gilead Media has been working to establish itself as the go-to label for interesting and innovative US black metal. Now, having decimated the competition in that particular niche, the label makes its maiden voyage outside the confines of USBM in the form of Lychgate, a UK-based band featuring current and former members of such luminaries as Esoteric, Lunar Aurora and The One. This would typically be the part where we throw around the term “supergroup” and debate its questionable merits, but I’ve got a better idea. How ’bout we skip all that rubbish and you just trust me when I say that Lychgate’s self-titled debut album is pretty fucking super? Sound good? Ok then, let us proceed…
Lychgate’s style of black metal is highly ornate and just a little bit twisted; this is the second wave-style BM you’ve come to know and love to be sure, but there’s something about it that’s slightly off-kilter in the best way possible. Much of it probably has something to do with the creepy funeral parlor organ that pops up throughout the record, lending it a quasi-psychedelic, blackened Iron Butterfly vibe. Or maybe it’s the fact that there are parts of the album that actually sound uplifting to my ears, at least musically speaking; I don’t have access to the lyrics, so it’s entirely possible that the parts I think are uplifting actually feature lyrics about offing yourself. Either way, there is an unorthodox originality and attention to detail at work here within the confines of an established form that makes the album one of the year’s most pleasant surprises.
As one might expect from a band featuring a member of Esoteric (guitarist/vocalist Greg Chandler), Lychgate does delve into doomy passages on occasion, but never approaches the glacially paced ultra-doom of the former. Doom is simply another texture here rather than the focal point, much like the use of pinch-harmonics that sound like they wouldn’t be out of place on a Dying Fetus album or the or the occasional deep, cavernous vocals that could’ve come from any number of bands aligning themselves with the Incantation school of murk and mayhem. Make no mistake, Lychgate is a black metal record through and through, but the band isn’t afraid to pick and choose the best parts of other genres and incorporate them in an unobtrusive manner.
This is one of the those albums that reveals new sounds with every spin, and clocking in at less than forty minutes means you’re much more likely to hit the “play” button again as soon as it’s over. Indeed, Lychgate has crafted an enthralling recording that manages to sound progressive but at the same time leaves you wanting more, thanks both to its easily digestible length and the band’s exquisite songwriting chops. I have to hand it to Gilead Media for picking one hell of an album for their first foray into international black metal, and I hope that Lychgate isn’t just a one-off for these musicians, because it’s evident that there’s a shitload of potential here. More, please.
Gilead Media has become one of the foremost purveyors of underground extreme metal in the past few years. The Adam Bartlett brainchild is a label where quality and consistency are king, making every single vinyl release a must-own for any heavy collection worth its weight. So when it was announced that the imprint would be debuting a full-length from a new black metal horde from the UK, well, suffice it to say I was intrigued. The label tends to focus on homegrown heroes so the fact that it was reaching across the pond could only mean good things, and what was unleashed was yet another gem from the filthy depths.
Born from the ashes of the one-man atmospheric project Archaicus, Lychgate evolved into a full band and transformed their sound into something more indescribable. It’s an amalgam of all things extreme, combining black metal and death-doom with fantastic results. The occasional symphonic flourish by way of creepy organ adds a horrible beauty without falling into the common clichés committed by bands who try to compete with movie scores. Subtlety is key, and that’s where Lychgate succeed.
As we spiral deep into the madness, the occasional familiarity will present itself. By the time the album is halfway through, the band’s penchant for clarity and precision has become apparent, and unexpected influences creep through the terror. The first half of “Sceptre to Control the World” sounds positively Opethian. And it’s not the only nod to the prolific Swedes you’ll hear, as the final track’s melancholic leads and off-kilter percussion reveal a sort of instrumental experimentation and cohesion that would only be expected from a group compatible beyond their years. These unexpected twists and turns become more and more apparent after repeat listens, rewarding patience. Drummer Jon Valelly plays seemingly on his own accord, adding a maddening, almost impromptu jazzy sheen to the mix which is beyond refreshing for a black metal debut. His ability to play both in sync with the rest of the band and up to his own demonic devices is unparalleled, a masterful feat.
With such a dense and dizzying output, I was hoping for a longer offering in both in track and album length; 38 minutes including an intro and interlude leaves you wondering what other sort of madness these occultists could have conjured up if they experimented with stretching their movements past the 6-minute mark. But with such mesmerizing songs and an overall impressive first album it’s hard to fault the Brits with much at all.
The record is available from Gilead’s webstore.
Final thoughts: Gilead Media puts out another incredible debut from a band who satisfy the need for all things heavy, without forgoing melody and intrigue.
It’s all too easy to focus on facts that aren’t directly in correlation to the music, when approaching some albums. Lychgate, for example, comprise of members of Omega Centuari, Lunar Aurora and Esoteric, which can be helpful, in as much as you might get a general idea of what to maybe expect from the music. However, Lychgate is very much its own entity, and that entity is massive and crushing, unleashing an album that most certainly delivers.
At its heart Lychgate is black metal, but as we all know that genre has gone off in so many directions and tangents that it is now very much a blanket term that covers many styles. Lychgate’s sound is a punishing one, and one that is grandiose in scope without disappearing up its own ass. The production is such that it emphasizes all elements, whilst keeping the fluidity of the album firmly intact.
The grandiose elements are married in with haunting atmospherics, some great doomier moments as well as some good old fashioned blasting away. It’s an album of diversity and as such is one that demands your attention, rather than just listening to it as background music. Once, however, you have fully digested it you’ll get that appreciation of just how much is going on here, and how damned good it is.
So, you could focus on who is in the band, or you could just take that on board and then sit back and enjoy an album that delivers the goods in all departments. Ferocious, atmospheric and incredibly powerful, Lychgate is most certainly an album that you need to hear.
Black metal potente, epico e con tanto di organo e tastiere, quindi orchestrale, ma lontano anni luce dalla pomposità noiosa del cosiddetto “black metal sinfonico”.
Il miracolo è compiuto dai Lychgate, una consorteria di metallari con base in Gran Bretagna, una specie di supergruppo parecchio underground, visto che quella parte di Europa è relativamente meno famosa per quanto riguarda questo genere. I Lychgate in realtà sono nati dalle ceneri – o dalla metamorfosi – di un progetto, Archaicus, avviato più di dieci anni fa da Vortigern, frontman e multistrumentista in vari gruppi d’area black, tra i quali spicca The One. Per la resurrezione Vortigern (chitarre, canti, organo e tastiere) ha coinvolto Greg Chandler (voce e chitarre) del mostro doom Esoteric, Aran (basso), della black metal band tedesca Lunar Aurora, e T. J. F. Vallely (batteria e percussioni) dalla creatura Omega Centauri, tra le altre cose. Insomma, una cricca da paura.
La bestia Lychgate è di razza ibrida, anche perché le band da cui provengono i diversi musicisti spesso già elaborano e sperimentano soluzioni sonore differenti, pur rimanendo saldamente ancorate alla cosidetta “vecchia scuola” metal. Per semplificare, si potrebbe targare Lychgate come black metal “atmosferico” o “progressive” o ancora – come si usa ultimamente – “art”, e non andrebbe male. Però con la sigla e basta non si riuscirebbe a cogliere che Lychgate è una specie di antico calderone magico in cui bollono abbondanti dosi del pathos e della brutalità di Bathory, Taake e Marduk (oppure a scelta vostra!), mescolate alla tecnica e alle atmosfere di Death, Opeth, Edge Of Sanity e Katatonia, alle partiture avantgarde-jazz dei Virus, doom grezzo e horror progressive arcaico e occulto rispettivamente da Winter e Abysmal Grief, e ancora noise, psichedelia… Poi, sorpresa, fuoriescono vapori letali ma eterei e che odorano di Alcest.
L’album di debutto del progetto Lychgate comprende nove tracce per quasi trentotto minuti di viaggio turbinoso in un altro tempo, dentro nel tunnel nero della cover (a firma di Manuel Tinnemans). Due episodi durano un minuto e fanno da introduzione e intermezzo al vortice impazzito descritto dagli altri sette brani, molto sfaccettati ma mai troppo lunghi, al massimo poco oltre i sei minuti. Questa band, infatti, ha una grande capacità di sintesi e di scrittura, che le permette di entrare e uscire dai generi, aggrovigliandoli in un caos apparente ma concludendo in modo quasi naturale ed elegante.
Spesso i brani hanno un attacco o un nucleo centrale tipo cripta o tipo carica infernale, quello proprio del black metal classico, ma presto entra il gusto per la tecnica, tramite sequenze di riff velocissimi e intricati o nervosi (“In Self Ruin”), oppure ipnotici nella loro circolarità tormentata (“Sceptre To Control The World). A ciò si alternano momenti doom, lenti e solenni, durante i quali il suono, rimbombante, è scomposto su più piani paralleli in modo molto suggestivo. L’organo è specialmente qui protagonista: riecheggia ieratico e minaccioso, annega la brutalità del black metal in atmosfere occulte e morbose. Tuttavia spesso è proprio il riverbero del suono dell’organo che consente il passaggio dal tormento ad atmosfere eteree da black metal psichedelico, fino allo shoegaze, anche se però non manca il rintocco ossessivo e marziale della batteria. Come la batteria, anche la voce in growl di Greg Chandler è soverchiata dalla cacofonia delle chitarre, ma ciò non fa che renderla ancora più paurosa, sia quando ringhia in modo bestiale nelle sfuriate black metal sia quando lascia uscire la propria anima doom.
Dopo l’intermezzo molto suggestivo, dominato dalle tastiere e da un canto occulto, arrivano “Triumphalism” e “Dust Of A Gun Barrel”, due ballate mozzafiato che seguono più o meno lo schema descritto, ma che sanno ugualmente stregare e incorporano in modo particolare l’influenza di Archaicus e delle band di provenienza dei musicisti coinvolti in Lychgate. “Triumphalism” è aperta dal ritmo sincopato della batteria e da una combinazione sognante di organo e chitarre riverberate, che sfocia in una magnifica mescolanza di frenesia bestiale e melodie complesse e raffinate, accelerazioni folli e rallentamenti in cui si è catturati dal ritmo prima che tutto si dissolva in atmosfere black shoegaze che mi ricordano i nostri, bravi, Frostmoon Eclipse. “Dust Of A Gun Barrel” parte come melodia jazzata e dissonante “avantgarde”, successivamente apre la gabbia e fa uscire l’anima maligna. È bellissimo lo stacco improvviso, a circa metà del brano, con il tremolare della chitarra acustica in un silenzio da pre-tempesta. In realtà poi il pezzo segue una melodia dolente e a tratti epica, ma sempre contaminata, o rinfrescata, da dissonanze e diversioni attraenti. È un po’ il “mood” con cui la band decide di concludere questo magnifico album, visto che la traccia finale, “When Scorn Can Scourge No More”, tende a svilupparsi come un ibrido tra Alcest ed Opeth, condotta da un suono delle chitarre non troppo aggressivo.
Io l’ho raccontata così, l’esperienza Lychgate, ma continuando ad ascoltare questo esordio ricco all’inverosimile di spunti e diversi stati d’animo, potrebbe venir fuori anche un’altra recensione. Comunque uno degli effetti di questo disco tutto sommato compatto, è quello di farti (ri)ascoltare i gruppi satelliti a questo progetto per prolungare la magia, cogliendoci echi di Lychgate (specialmente in Omega Centauri).
Insomma, ben vengano questi signori a infoltire prepotentemente la schiera delle band eclettiche che hanno contribuito a rinnovare e arricchire il panorama black metal internazionale con la sperimentazione o scavalcando i confini tra generi (Negative Plane, Oranssi Pazuzu, Nachtmystium, Ludicra, Paroxsihzem…).
Lychgate è uscito tramite Gilead Media in formato vinile e in formato cd/digitale per Mordgrimm . Per cui non ci sono scuse per non procurarsi questo album bellissimo, malevolo e feroce, tecnico ma appassionante per la sua mutevolezza e per la grande ispirazione che permea ogni brano.
In attesa di altro, avidamente, come pulcini famelici di rapace dal becco aperto…
Black metal powerful, epic and with a lot of organ and keyboards, and orchestral, but light years away from the boring pomposity of the "symphonic black metal."
The miracle is accomplished by Lychgate, a coterie of metalheads based in Britain, a kind of underground supergroup lot, since that part of Europe is relatively less known regarding this kind. The Lychgate actually born from the ashes - or metamorphosis - a project, Archaicus, started over ten years ago by Vortigern, frontman and multi-instrumentalist in various groups of black area, among which is The One. For the resurrection Vortigern (guitars, singing, organ and keyboards) involved Greg Chandler (vocals and guitars) Monster doom Esoteric, Aran (bass), the German black metal band Lunar Aurora, and TJF Vallely (drums and percussion) from the creature Omega Centauri, among other things. In short, a clique from fear.
The beast is Lychgate hybrid race, also because the band from which the musicians often have elaborate and experience different sound solutions, while remaining firmly anchored to the so-called "old school" metal. To simplify, you could targare Lychgate as black metal "atmospheric" or "progressive" or even - how to use it lately - "art", and would not go bad. But with the initials and you just do not fail to grasp that Lychgate is a kind of ancient magic cauldron in which boil liberal doses of pathos and brutality of Bathory, Taake and Marduk (or your choice!), Mix the technical and atmospheres Death, Opeth, Katatonia and Edge of Sanity, to the scores of avantgarde jazz-Virus, raw doom and horror progressive archaic occult respectively from Winter and Abysmal Grief, and even noise, psychedelia ... Then, surprise, escaping vapors lethal but ethereal and that smell of Alcest.
The debut album of the project Lychgate includes nine tracks for almost thirty minutes of Whirlwind Trip to another time, inside the tunnel black cover (signed by Manuel Tinnemans). Two episodes last a minute and make an introduction and interlude to the mad whirl described by the other seven songs, very multifaceted but never too long, at most a little over six minutes. This band, in fact, has a great capacity for synthesis and writing, which allows it to enter and exit from the genres, aggrovigliandoli in an apparent chaos but ending in an almost natural and elegant.
Often the songs have an attack or a core type crypt or type charge hell, that's just black metal classic, but soon enters the taste for the technique, using sequences of fast riffs and intricate or nervous ("In Self Ruin"), or hypnotic in their circularity tormented ("Sceptre to Control the World). In what alternate moments doom, slow and solemn, during which the sound rolling, is broken down into several parallel planes in a very suggestive way. The organ is especially here protagonist echoes hieratic and threatening, drowns the brutality of black metal atmospheres occult and morbid. However, often it is the reflection of the sound of the organ that allows the passage from the torment to ethereal atmospheres from black metal psychedelic, shoegaze up to, but does not fail even if the tolling obsessive martial battery. As the battery, also the voice growl Greg Chandler is overwhelmed by the cacophony of guitars, but this does is to make it even more frightening, and when so bestial growls in black metal outbursts is when one lets out his soul doom.
After the interlude very impressive, dominated by keyboards and singing occult arrive "triumphalism" and "Dust Barrel Of A Gun", two breathtaking ballads that follow more or less the scheme described, but who can also bewitch and incorporate so particularly the influence of Archaicus and band of origin of the musicians involved in Lychgate. "Triumphalism" is open from the syncopated rhythm of drums and a dreamy combination of organ and guitars reverberated, that leads to a great blend of bestial frenzy and complex melodies and refined, accelerations and decelerations crazy when you are caught by the rhythm before everything dissolve in black shoegaze atmospheres that remind me of our, good, Frostmoon Eclipse. "Dust Barrel Of A Gun" as part jazzy melody and dissonant "avantgarde", then opens the cage and brings out the soul malignant. It's beautiful, the detachment sudden, about half of the song, with the flicker of the acoustic guitar in a silence from pre-storm. In reality, then the piece follows a mournful melody and sometimes epic, but still contaminated, or refreshed, from dissonance and attractive diversions. It's a little 'the "mood" in which the band decided to conclude this magnificent album, as the final track, "When Can Scorn Scourge No More", tends to develop as a hybrid between Alcest and Opeth, conducted by a sound of guitars not too aggressive.
I have told so, the experience Lychgate, but continuing to listen to this debut full to capacity with ideas and different moods, could be out another review. However one of the effects of this record all in all compact, is to make you (re) listen to the satellite groups in this project to prolong the magic, cogliendoci echoes Lychgate (especially in Omega Centauri).
In short, we welcome these gentlemen to thicken overwhelmingly the eclectic array of bands that helped to renew and enrich the international black metal with experimentation or stepping over the boundaries between genres (Negative Plane, Oranssi Pazuzu, Nachtmystium, Ludicra, Paroxsihzem ...).
Lychgate came out through Gilead Media format vinyl and CD format / digital Mordgrimm. So there is no excuse for not obtaining this beautiful album, malicious and vicious, technical but exciting for its mutability and for the great inspiration that permeates every song.
Looking forward to another, avidly as chicks hungry raptor beak open...
Lychgate’s sound is of a dark carnival, one that is haunting and sinister that takes in the dirge of doom and the dark descant of black metal to produce something mysterious, arcane, and esoteric. A collaboration between members of Esoteric, Lunar Aurora and Omega Centauri, Lychgate’s début is an accomplished affair that sees its members combining their strengths in its creation. Though there are elements of those bands here, this is something greater than its component parts. Where “Against The Paradoxi” screams torment and agony throughout, the pinch-harmonic riffs and frenzied lead-work of “In Self Ruin” are unrestrained in their charge. With organ-barbed atmospherics, down-trodden tempos, and igneous riffs, there is an orchestral and majestic feel to the denticulate landscapes contained within. The album rises and falls and ebbs and flows, and following the stirring “Intermezzo”, from “Triumphalism” to the album’s close, summoning forth the dark forces of the earth in an array of incantations, Lychgate truly come into their own.
Lychgate is an impressive black metal band who are out to take over the world. With their hyper intellectual and introverted black metal sound it seems like they just might be able to do it. The melancholic tones of songs like “Sceptre to Control the World” are masked under layers of exquisite production and vibrant guitar tones. Speaking of which, this band employs a swarm of very slow and depressing guitar melodies to add atmosphere to the bands sound. That is not to say that there are no moments of raw black metal, many of the songs feature the genre in it purest form, screeched vocals and tremolo guitar lines et al. Yet what truly make this band special is the clanky and strangely crushing minor key melodies that dominate the music. They are what truly entraps the listener into the sound and submerges them in waves of the most unholy black metal. It seems like this band has been chosen by the dark lord himself to succeed and I am very curious to see where this band ov ultimate evil end up a year from now.
Lychgate is a band that takes black metal and mixes it with an orchestra background to create a sound that could make a horror film soundtrack. To the band’s credit they do not go overboard trying to mix the two genres up and as the CD goes on the sound compliments itself a little bit more and more for the most part. “The Inception” which opens the CD is a little orchestra number that really sets this mood of unpredictability and uneasy, it is like you are watching a horror film and you get that musical number that you know the monster or killer is coming. “Resentment” gets this cd moving and comes right out of the gates just brutal and crushing, but then the orchestration comes in and the guitar riffs, just really makes the song stand out as a band that deserves to be heard. As the CD goes on some of the negatives do shine their heads somewhat, while the CD is very mystifying and comes across at times as epic, other times it does come across as a tad bit repetitive. Some songs come across as thrash, others come across as progressive, and even classical operatic. This is a CD that I feel metal fans will need some patience with. This is one of those cds that the more you listen to it, the more you get out of it. This could be seen as a clash of Cathedral and Savatage. The guitar on this CD is contagious and catchy without trying, but the vocals on this CD are the real winner. The vocals hit you hard when they need to and others they come across as a warning of what is ahead. I will say right now, in the world of metal this is a band that I feel is going to do big things, and this CD is a good little start. While not an entirely perfect record, it had enough to recommend this. I feel CDs like this exist to change the perspective of what metal can do, and how it is categorized. I mean, I bet if you got really stoned or drunk and listened to this CD you would think it is a fucked up Disney soundtrack sung by Satan. I will be listening to this a lot more, and certain tracks on this CD are in my iPod on repeat. I am stoked and scared for what the future holds for this band and for us the fans.
Daar zat ik dan als argeloze reviewer. Lychgate? Nooit van gehoord. Promoblaadje niet gelezen, gewoon op play duwen. Toen hij klaar was met spelen, nog eens op play duwen. Einde tweede luisterbeurt, nog eens op play duwen. En zo ging het de ganse avond door. Beetje bij beetje proberen te ontrafelen wie dit kon zijn. Nieuwelingen? Dat was onmogelijk.
Nieuwelingen zijn het zeker niet. Dit gezelschap bestaat uit leden en ex-leden van Lunar Aurora, Esoteric, Omega Centauri en The One... echt waar. Ze spelen black metal van een ongelofelijk hoog niveau. Vocalist Greg Chandler van Esoteric is een fenomeen en hij neemt zijn genialiteit mee in Lychgate. De Duitse bassist Aran (ex-Trist en Lunar Aurora) strooit deviante ritmes rond als asregens vol occulte vibes. Vortigern zorgt voor de geluidsdraperieën op de achtergrond, vortexen van sacrale en kosmische klanken, ronduit begeesterend zonder ooit te overheersen. Drummer Tom Vallely is misschien de minst bekende, maar zeker geen zwakke schakel. De breuklijnen en zijn eigenzinnige stijl brengt suspense met heel veel originele opbouwende ritmes, zonder in overdrive te gaan of extreem strak te klinken. Met dit gezelschap kun je al raden dat de nummers behoorlijk fascinerend zijn.
En dan zijn er nog de invloeden die het nog aanlokkelijker kunnen doen klinken. Het Blut Aus Nord-gitaarwerk van Memoria Vetusta II, de Emperor-gitaarlijnen die doen denken aan In the Nightside Eclipse, de melodieën à la Nazxul en Katatonia (When Scorn Can Scourge No More). Een nummer als Triumphalism laat horen waarover ik het hier heb. Uiterst zelden heb ik een band zo dicht de originele meesterwerken in de black metal geschiedenis horen benaderen zonder ook maar even copieus te klinken. Het is een geschenk voor iemand als mij, die zweert bij alles en iedereen die hiervoor werd opgenoemd. Vernietigend sterk. Samen met landgenoten Abyssal zal dit strijden om de topposities in de jaarlijst. Instant classic heten ze zoiets. This is my kinda music. Mooie hoes ook van Manuel Tinnemans, maakt het helemaal af.
There I was as innocent reviewer. Lychgate? Never heard of. Promo Petal not read, just push play. When he finished pushing play another play. End of second spin, another push play. And so it went on the whole night through. Little by little, trying to unravel who this could be. Newbies? That was impossible.
Newcomers are certainly not. This group consists of members and ex-members of Lunar Aurora, Esoteric, Omega Centauri and The One... really. They play black metal of an incredibly high level. Vocalist Greg Chandler of Esoteric is a phenomenon and he takes his genius along in Lychgate. German bassist Aran (former Trist and Lunar Aurora) scatters deviant rhythms around like ashfall full occult vibes. Vortigern ensures geluidsdraperieën in the background, vortexes of sacred and cosmic sounds downright engaging along without dominating ever. Drummer Tom Vallely is perhaps the least known, but certainly not a weak link. The fault lines and brings his unique style suspense with many original building rhythms, without going into overdrive or play extremely tight. With this company you can already guess that the numbers are quite fascinating.
And then there are the influences that may make it sound more enticing. The Blut Aus Nord-guitar work of Memoria Vetusta II, the Emperor-guitar lines reminiscent In the Nightside Eclipse, the melodies a la Nazxul and Katatonia (“When Scorn Scourge Can No More”). A song like “Triumphalism” sounds of which I speak here. Very rarely do I hear a band as close as close to the original masterpieces in the history of black metal without sounding too but equally lavish. It is a gift for someone like me, who loves everyone and everything that was listed above. Highly destructive. Along with fellow Abyssal will compete for the top positions in the year list. Instant classic they are called something. This is my kinda music. Nice cover also Manuel Tinnemans, makes it complete.
Lychgate's artistic BM offers an intriguging spin on the genre, given weight by the inclusion of bleak vocals, courtesy of Greg Chandler of Esoteric, while guitarist Vortigern lifts their performance with magical choral vocal lines.
Opening the show is home-grown band Lychgate. Not just any old gig for them, their forty minute, late-starting set is a special showcase for material from their upcoming album, which is due this month. They enter a stage that is so soaked in red light, it looks like the bloody set of a horror film, and from the back it makes pitch black silhouettes of all in the mid-sized crowd.
Musically, their brand of avant-garde black metal is very cinematic too- with a heap of odd time signatures and perverse mood changes. After a request for a bit more proper lighting on stage from frontman G. A. Chandler, the six-piece prove they have more to give than just creating atmospheres, with stunning musical technicality shown by synced lead guitar and organ licks, that run chromatic mazes around the inhuman shrieks for vocals.
Not for all, but certainly the most unique band I’ve ever stumbled across in the live environment.
Excerpt from Live review of Lychgate show in Baroeg, Rotterdam, 29th November 2015
"Het Britse Lychgate mag namelijk al om klokslag vier uur ’s middags beginnen met spelen. In drie kwartier voert de band ons mee op een duistere reis. De “moeilijke” black metal (met experimentele touches) van dit gezelschap voelt als een koortsdroom: beklemmend, soms lastig te volgen en altijd vol dreiging. De creepy kerkorgels, en andere samples, geven het statische optreden wat extra sfeer tussen de songs door. Deze show ligt het publiek duidelijk wat zwaar op de maag, zeker op dit vroege uur; het is bovendien niet altijd duidelijk wanneer een nummer nu precies is afgelopen en wanneer er slechts sprake is van een intermezzo binnen de compositie. Op een simpel “thank you” aan het absolute einde na, is er tijdens deze rite totaal geen interactie met de toeschouwers – toch is dit met recht een interessant optreden te noemen."
Written by Andreas Smulders.