Band – Lychgate
Album – Also Sprach Futura
Country of Origin – UK
Genre – Avantgarde Black Metal
Release Date – 13th March 2020
Label – Debemur Morti Productions
Author – Nuno Lourenço
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:
- the uncanny venturing soul of Howls Of Ebb;
- the progressive death sensitivity of Black Crown Initiate, oddly mixed with the best of Arcturus vibes circa “Sideshow Symphonies”;
- the stellar black metal modernity of Schammasch;
- the Mephorash ability to create black doomish anthems;
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 EP’s 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.
Biography: Nuno Lourenço has been a hard metal fan since the mid 80’s that has never lost his track and still lives for his daily fix of extreme metal. He is so passionate about music in general and extreme metal in particular that he actually started playing and recording his stuff at age 43. Contrary to many of his contemporaries, he believes that metal is better now than it has ever been, and he simply awes with the quality and freshness of the new metal releases that come out everyday. Nuno’s passion for Death and Black Metal, especially on the most experimental/avant garde and atmospheric subgenres is legendary (at least in his house).