Lychgate - _Lychgate_
(Mordgrimm, 2013)
by: Chaim Drishner (9 out of 10)
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.


(article published 28/7/2013)

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