Liturgy becomes one of the golden children to watch in the genre as their performance is so often cemented in the creation and display of technical ability and production phasing. Their 2019 record H.A.Q.Q. is a safe haven for the musical ear, but otherwise an assault ground for onlookers.
Each rhythm, tone, and personal style choice from Liturgy comes almost as this aggressive standpoint where the audience is left beneath crushing and almost burying approaches to sonic capability.
The opening track “HAJJ” is immediately a toss into the frying and bubbling pot and while the four-piece outfit is equipped for almost anything, H.A.Q.Q. is hellish and unbreakable.
Hunter Hunt-Hendrix covers the guitar and vocals where Bernard Gann assists Hunt-Hendrix on the guitar. Together, the pair are lightning-fast and send receptors of breakneck speed through the metaphorical body. Tia Vincent-Clark works bass and Leo Didkovsky is on percussion, where the rhythm section becomes less charismatic and more feral with each track.
“HAJJ” does a fantastic job as a track however to highlight each and every member’s individual ability without becoming too bogged by the near nine-minute run time of the piece. With roots in black metal and math rock/metal, the percussion from Didkovsky is immediately one of the best and more mesmerizing factors from H.A.Q.Q.
Whether glitching, sequencing, or breaking to shreds, later moments with Liturgy become sullen through “VIRGINITY” where innocence becomes sacrificed to the fields of performance. Like a mighty guiding hand, Hunt-Hendrix is able to growl, exert, and finally exercise some intense vocal patterns that coincide within the production. Instrumentally, “VIRGINITY” and periods of H.A.Q.Q. are exhausting and beg for a reprieve.
Instead of a full-scale backdown, Liturgy presses the audience and pushes them to become more confined within this constrictive space. H.A.Q.Q. does an intense but immaculate job of never pressing to the breaking point for the ears, instead that emotion is transposed beautifully even behind the darkened cloak of chaos.
“GOD OF LOVE” is another eight-minute display but rather than finding ways to pulverize, the instrumentation lifts and is a hopeful beauty to annihilation. At times, Liturgy burns in a harsher fashion than 1,000 suns, but through that burning comes a moment of utter retribution behind the abundance.
Fragments of “GOD OF LOVE” pass through sections of appearing to be a calming method disguised through soft ethereal vocals and patterns to nearly hide the abuse. In the midpoint especially there is a strange and nearly twisted sense of power shift where the shouts become chants and the sky opens to reveal more about peace through the still rambunctious instrumental.
Godly but still breaking, cleanliness attached to moments of utter impurity, with Liturgy on H.A.Q.Q. there is an immense amount to digest through the 45 minutes. With some of their most engaging and potentially charming steps toward the sound, H.A.Q.Q. becomes unchained while showing some scars in the process.