Lychgate - Lychgate
Gilead Media
Black Metal
9 songs (37:52)
Release year: 2012
Gilead Media
Reviewed by Charles
I hesitate to use the word 'fascinating', because it feels too academic, as if I were discussing someone's cultural studies PhD, or some new theory of how bubbles work. Instead, I am reviewing some rad black metal. But yeah, I found this album fascinating.

Lychgate presents a combination of talents that should fire the imaginations of many extreme metal fans. Omega Centauri’s Tom Vallely is joined by Aran, a founding member of much-loved black metal warhorses Lunar Aurora, and Greg Chandler from cult heroes Esoteric. If you find that line-up enticing, this album should not disappoint. Those bands, certainly, weigh heavily in the sound. In particular, the melding together of Lunar Aurora’s immense black metal lumbering with Esoteric's drifting avant-doom is an irresistible prospect, the execution of which is handled with great skill here. The result is a genuinely distinctive album, which is something we cannot say that often.

In fact, the first thing the strikes the listener here is the sheer weight of the sound. Introductory track The Inception is imperious: crashing church organ chords, reverberating lead guitar harmonies, and percussion laden with pomp. It seems to situate the album in the grandiose “symphonic” tradition of, say, Emperor. That doesn’t really fit, though, and various elements set this apart from any such standardised models. The church organ, in particular, is used brilliantly here and is a defining characteristic of Lychgate’s singular approach. It conveys an extravagant, bizarrely ecclesiastical feel, which makes the album feel like twisted worship music. It is particularly central on Resentment, whose furious black metal sound is completely transformed by the radiant major key melodies around which it is based. The organ picks out a bright, ascending phrase, delivering in a curious, irregular rhythm, around which the other instruments fall into line. In Self Ruin uses it in a different way, where the garbled keyboard hammering produces a chaotic rumble that melds perfectly with its more orthodox black metal whirl.

In a more general sense, I am also struck by the fluidity of the songwriting. Tracks here take on curious, hard-to-pin-down shapes. Often, they rage in a familiarly blackened way, but at other times they spiral into more expansive terrain, like on Against the Paradoxical Guild, where the unhurried drift of Esoteric comes (albeit briefly) to the fore. Sceptre to Control the World fluctuates from a growling gothic opening into the kind of blistering blackened drone you may find on a Fell Voices record. The overall impression is of an entirely un-formulaic album.

Killing Songs :
Resentment, Against the Paradoxical Guild
Charles quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Lychgate that we have reviewed:
Lychgate - Also sprach Futura reviewed by Andy and quoted no quote
Lychgate - The Contagion in Nine Steps reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Lychgate - An Antidote for the Glass Pill reviewed by Charles and quoted 90 / 100
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