Curious Genealogies

My son’s black metal band Liturgy has put out a four-minute video of their song “Returner.” Apparently there’s some big controversy (like father, like son) connected to the fact that they’re “hipsters” playing black metal; Bernard says the fans would prefer that they be wearing bullets on their belts and rusty nails sticking out of their shoulders. I don’t get it. After playing the South by Southwest festival they stopped in McKinney, Texas, and visited my 83-year-old mother. If you knew my mother, you would find the idea of her entertaining a black metal band in her kitchen tremendously enjoyable. Anyway, Liturgy’s new album Aesthetica (on Thrill Jockey – a label I’d actually heard of) got a very nice placement in one of New York Magazine’s “Approval Matrices,” halfway between highbrow and lowbrow and almost all the way towards brilliant.

The pivot repertoire that links Bernard’s musical tastes with mine is Brian Eno and the Residents. He came home and we had an Eno-fest last night, both of us singing virtually all the lyrics to all the songs. I doubt that anyone has noticed, but a thesis could be written about Eno’s influence on my music (hint: think Another Green World).

UPDATE: When the band mentioned to my mother the possibility of her coming to one of their concerts, she said, “That would redefine the word ‘anachronism.'”


  1. Sara Heimbecker says

    I found the YouTube comments really interesting. There’s something threatening about the band for the people leaving the negative comments, especially with comments about “pretentious hipsters.” I think the issue is that their sound is too clean and too tight. The tight drumming makes them sound a little like the “math rock” band The Battles, although they will probably bristle at that comparison. (I am not completely “up” on current black metal, admittedly.) Perhaps the issue is a confusion between skill and pretension? (A little like the issue that you can’t be a really skilled musician and play punk.) There is certainly a problem with sub genre labels.

    This is interesting! Thanks for posting something a little off the usual track.

    KG replies: Thanks, Sara. One thing I’ll vouch for, they’re really well-rehearsed.

  2. says

    I think the “real” issue is that they don’t adhere to the same philosophy and outward appearances of most black metal bands. I’m not sure the drumming has anything to do with it, as Greg could drum circles around any of the black metal guys who just know how to play blast beats. And that’s one of the things a friend of mine (and self-professed metal-head) said to me, was that she thought that the whole image surrounding the band was not in keeping with black metal and thus turned her off (despite her liking their previous album, Renihilation, when I played it for her, and her likening it to Burzum (a “true” black metal band)).

    Anywho, I like “true” black metal, I like Liturgy, and I am far from your typical metal-head. Some may call me a hipster, but I’ve probably been listening to black metal longer than the “true” fans. It’s music, and it’s good, and I’m listening to Liturgy’s new album right now (their double LP which I purchased a few days ago) because it’s amazing.

    As a side note: Hi Kyle! I don’t know if you remember me but I was in your new music ensemble at Bard (we played the guitar gay guerilla).