Liturgy - H.A.Q.Q. review

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Band: Liturgy
Album: H.A.Q.Q.
Release date: November 2019

01. HAJJ
02. Exaco I
03. Virginity
04. Pasaqalia
05. Exaco II
06. God Of Love
07. Exaco III
08. HAQQ
09. . . . .

I do not possess one split atom's worth of regard for Hunter Hunt-Hendrix's "uniquely [M]arxist and psychoanalytic vision of God," nor do I care to dissect the flowchart of esoteric gibberish that somebody out there thinks qualifies for an album cover. But glitched-out spasmodic post-black metal with occasional harp and brighter tones than the Teletubbies' wardrobe? I'm… in? I guess?

I hit "play" expecting to have my eardrums hammered into craters on an exceedingly chipper aural killing floor laden with unusual sound effects, unnecessary instruments out of step with each other, and physically repelling solipsistic shoegazing. You know, precisely what The Ark Work was. And, in fact, this is that, too, but I guess becoming a much bigger Melt-Banana fan since that album has really skewed my perspective on things, because now I hear these relentless walls of screeching riffscapes and think, "Wow, this is artistic." Of course, it's also possible that Hunter Hunt-Hendrix actually improved his formula for all-out assaults of disjointed noise, and I sure hope that this is the case because otherwise it's entirely my problem.

Then again, maybe I've just become emotionally sensitive to out-of-tune woodwinds, because there can't be any other explanation for how much I enjoy these violent jolts of aggressive metalgaze peppered with quixotically melodic overtones. If I could nail down the general sound of H.A.Q.Q., it's a series of piercing neon riffs that run on post-black rhythms but hit like the bleating, feedback-engulfed popgrind of Psudoku or the aforementioned Melt-Banana. H.A.Q.Q. pushes constant and seemingly unnecessary variation on this formula, however, both by breaking up the album with interludes and by slapping on extra instrumentation with no regard as to how it fits the heavy, hardcore skeleton. Sometimes it's operatic vocals, other times it's dreamy intrusions of atmosphere a la The Flaming Lips, and "Pasaqalia," for one, locks into a groove with dire orchestral import resembling Dance Of Death-era Iron Maiden, albeit with twinkling chimes and hoarse howls sinking into the background.

None of it should work, and maybe it doesn't, but I find the shrieking and artificial skipping somehow soothing. The opener, "Hajj," sets the tone for the rest of H.A.Q.Q.: it's like if Asira covered Mahavishnu Orchestra and then got the chipmunk treatment and became annoying as all hell, plus a little bit of space opera and those really grating breathing sounds that the sun makes in Soul Eater. The first segue track, the second track overall, is the sound of somebody's 1995 desktop being unable to handle the piano interlude they sampled; it's Master Boot Record dialed back a century, and then brought back to modernity on the title track. Through the entire album, Liturgy snatch up and then drop all kinds of elements as they please, resulting in a complete work that is, if nothing else, exceedingly dynamic; for the symphonic "Pasaqalia" to come between the flex-core "Virginity" and the chime solo "Exaco II" is the result of no small amount of artistic sadism. The description on Bandcamp boasts of "harp, piano, gagaku ensemble, pitched percussion, strings, and digital manipulation," all of which would seem to be present indeed.

As I say, though, I dig it, for some reason.

One criticism I really should offer is that you can't mix Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, binary, and William Blake like that. Just write me some lyrics about withstanding the fall of time and keep the Kabbalah to yourself. I guess it's not like any of the lyrics are intelligible anyway, as they're usually howled and snarled underneath many layers of tremolo picking and crashing percussion and synths, but this is where I break with Liturgy (for, like, the fifteenth time). I just want to listen to a decent album; I don't want a cryptic philosophical piledriver. I got my own problems, pal.

I wish I could tell you how this compares to The Ark Work, but I am absolutely not going out of my way to listen to that thing again just so I can review a different Liturgy album. I have a hard time believing I could survive another round with it, but, even worse, I might find that I enjoy it now. You can compare the two on your time.

Now I'll take my rightful place as the Metal Storm reviewer with officially the worst taste ever.

…although I'm pretty sure I already had it.

Rating breakdown
Performance: -
Songwriting: -
Originality: 10
Production: -


Written on 04.01.2020 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments: 6   [ 1 ignored ]   Visited by: 124 users
04.01.2020 - 16:25
That was the weirdest redemption arc in history and I'm not even sure if this counts as one.

In regards to the album, all I can say is that we need more music like this, but not this. It's incredibly original and forward thinking and has some of its heart in the right place, but the execution feels way too out-there regardless of how actually skilled the musicians obviously are, and the whole thing just oozes of self-importance.

But it's definitely better than The Ark Work. I just wish HHH had a bit more constraint.
- I've dreamt of that for years.
- Dying?
- Running.

2020 goodies
04.01.2020 - 17:02
i c deaf people
The SLoT, Sabaton, Babymetal - and now this...

I don't know which kind of contest you're participating in but one thing's for sure: you have already won.
signatures = SPAM
04.01.2020 - 17:26
Written by Starvynth on 04.01.2020 at 17:02

The SLoT, Sabaton, Babymetal - and now this...

I don't know which kind of contest you're participating in but one thing's for sure: you have already won.

I don't care what I win, as long as I win it.
Umaku naritai umaku naritai umaku naritai umaku naritai

I'm the Agent of Steel.
04.01.2020 - 20:09
Weirdo of MS
Nice, finally a review about the music itself! =p

I agree with a lot here... I just wouldn't grade it that high tho
Also The Ark Work isn't that bad
2016 - 2017
2018 - 2019
04.01.2020 - 20:27
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Weird Boys weird
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
04.01.2020 - 23:07
Boxcar Willy
yr a kook
Wow I'm a little shocked to be honest. I like this album too but I didn't expect you to receive it like this.
14:22 - Marcel Hubregtse
I do your mum

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