Lychgate has been one of the most exciting metal bands to emerge in the past decade, with each of their three full lengths twisting the worlds of black metal and doom together in ways that proved to be nightmarish and ever changing. Their use of the organ and keyboards as a driving force in their material has played a large role in this, and while each record has differed in how these pieces came together, they’ve all remained thoroughly engaging. Two years after The Contagion in Nine Steps Lychgate has returned with a new EP titled Also sprach Futura which finds them once again flipping the script. Coming through at an even faster pace where songs flow seamlessly into the next, this is another adventurous release from the band that’s as exciting on the tenth listen as it is on the first.
Compared to some of Lychgate’s prior material the tempo feels faster from the get-go, with there being an even greater emphasis on black metal and passages that blast away at listeners with a frenetic, swirling approach. This approach gives off a very different tone and atmosphere than the group’s prior material, as it gives listeners a bit less time to breathe as the layers build at a quicker pace and reach even more nightmarish levels than ever before. That’s not to say that the instrumentals are going full blast for the entire twenty minute run as there are still some slower interludes that give a bit of pause and let a sense of dread seep in, and during these sections the guitars and organ once again create melodies that are downright spine chilling. It’s a lot to take in, even for fans that are familiar with Lychgate’s flair for the avant-garde, and each time through you’ll start to discover additional layers and transitions that weren’t evident before. Everything flows together in a way that makes Also sprach Futura best experienced as a single body of work rather than in bits and pieces, though individual elements remain distinguishable between the tracks. It’s got all of the abrasive and nightmarish edges of black metal but everything’s been ran through a grinder and spit back out in non-linear ways, drawing you in and then beckoning you to dive deeper and get swept away into the group’s all-encompassing atmosphere.
Greg Chandler’s vocals have played a significant role in Lychgate’s music, as his growls have always been able to deviate in pitch more than is typical for the genre. This is once again the case throughout Also sprach Futura, as his growls are extremely dense and tower over the instrumentation in a way that commands your attention with each verse. On The Contagion in Nine Steps the group had started incorporating a greater amount of singing and chanting, and there’s still plenty of that to be found here. The combination of the two gives a considerably amount of variety to the performance, and no matter whether they’re bludgeoning you with deep growls or somber chanting the level of energy remains overwhelming at times.
With each of their releases Lychgate has transformed elements of black metal and doom into ways that feel unique. With this EP they’ve further explored black metal and kept the tempo at a faster, more chaotic pace that feels even denser and full of twists and turns than ever before. The atmosphere is as intoxicating as it is terrifying, and while it may take some extended period of time to fully get a feel for all of the nuances there’s plenty to be gained from taking the time to do so. Every time this group announces new material there is cause for excitement, and they’ve once again delivered a must-listen. Also sprach Futura is available from Debemur Morti Productions.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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