It’s been more than 10 years since New York’s experimental metal band, Liturgy, first emerged in the heavy music underground, proposing a modified method of transmitting and performing black metal. If their 2019 album, H.A.Q.Q. wasn’t already an indication, with their recently-announced fifth album in view, it’s very clear that Liturgy have come into their own and, considering the divided opinions of metal fans in the past about the band, they have certainly made their mark on the genre. Transmit Presents hosted Liturgy’s December 13th appearance at The Garrison and gave good reason to celebrate the band’s talent as leaders of avant garde metal.
Openers on the tour were Infant Island, out of Fredericksburg, Virginia, with their brand of expansive post-rock-tinged hardcore sludge, and Elizabeth Colour Wheel with their dynamic “heavy shoegaze” sound also out of New York. The latter’s live set came across as an empowered and theatrical art-doom. The powerful vocals of Lane Shi OTAY::ONII culminating in a song sung from atop the bar on the opposite side of the room from her band.
In the headlining slot, Liturgy stoically exploded into the song, “HAJJ”, to begin the set. While rather expressionless and relatively motionless, the band’s concentration on the fierce and technical percussive rhythms, and labyrinthine dueling guitar rounds made their playing appear effortless. The first half of the band’s setlist continued on with intricately performed songs off the album H.A.Q.Q. Midway, they shifted to a few favourites from their landmark 2011 album, Aesthethica, which proved to be their grooviest and most accessible of the show. While anyone unfamiliar with the band might find challenging the precisely evolving tempo and timing polyrhythms, blasting tremolo, and harsh shrieks of Ravenna Hunt-Hendrix, a familiarity of their discography provided immediate recognizability. Since recently announcing a March 2023 album, 93696, they were obliged to end their set with the lead title track from the album and they did so poised as with any other played in the evening. While not the most entertaining performance, it was entirely impressive and a verification of their persistence over the years.