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When Brooklyn-based black metal outfit Liturgy signed to indie label Thrill Jockey last week, Stereogum scribe and metal expert Brandon Stosuy posted a philosophical pondering on his Twitter account:
What’s this mean for black metal, black metallists?
Dudes dress like Abe Vigoda, play Todd P shows and speak at symposiums. Don’t think any real black metal fan gives a shit.
Weingarten’s quip wasn’t unfounded: Liturgy’s main force, frontman Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, certainly can concur. “I’ve never felt like much of a member of the metal community, and certainly the other members of the band I think don’t really identify with metal so much,” says Hunt-Hendrix. “In New York there’s not much of a metal community, at least, that I’ve ever been involved with.”
Like many youngsters who love music in the age of the Internet, Hunt-Hendrix found the metal community online. “I think one of the cool things about metal is the way that it’s so global… where you can be one of 200 people who know about a band from a little town in Poland or something,” he says.
For Hunt-Hendrix, his physical involvement in metal began in high school. Back then, he and Liturgy drummer Greg Fox, who also performs with Baltimore psych group Teeth Mountainand releases solo experimental music as GDFX, began dabbling in metal.
“We had a hardcore band, it was called Holy Wars, and it had some black metal elements in it,” Hunt-Hendrix says.
Soon, Hunt-Hendrix began focusing on his own, metal-focused material. “When I was like 18 or 19, I started doing bedroom black metal, just making it solo on a four-track and things just kind of developed from there,” he says.
Liturgy grew out of Hunt-Hendrix’s bedroom experimenting, and the project and its reputation have both grown since that zygotic period of existence in Hunt-Hendrix’s teens. Liturgy has expanded to include four members, earned praise from places like The New York Times and Pitchfork for its debut, 2009’s Renihilation (20 Buck Spin), and become figureheads of transcendental black metal.
A student of American Romanticism, Hunt-Hendrix’s approach to black metal skews the normal associations of the genre. There’s no church-burning or cultish worship when it comes to Liturgy: Just good ole’ fashioned American spiritualism, as expressed through soaring, lightening-fast instrumentation.
“The idea of sort of touching the soul is, I think, something black metal [can be] a powerful tool to activate that,” Hunt-Hendrix says.
Liturgy performs with Live Nudes tomorrow at 10:30 p.m. at Comet Ping Pong.