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Lychgate - "Lychgate" (CD)

Lychgate - "Lychgate" CD cover image

"Lychgate" track listing:

1. The Inception (1:05)
2. Resentment (5:39)
3. Against the Paradoxical Guild (6:17)
4. In Self Ruin (3:30)
5. Sceptre to Control the World (5:30)
6. Intermezzo (1:00)
7. Triumphalism (4:37)
8. Dust of a Gun Barrel (6:08)
9. When Scorn Can Scourge No More (4:00)

Reviewed by on May 21, 2013

"This music is candy for the tooth-decayed misfits who can’t be satisfied anymore by dry and bland black metal."

When a group of musicians decides to start a black metal project, there are certain aspects they try to obtain: the usual instruments - durable guitars, bass, and drums - and a vocalist with a raspy tone. Using an organ isn’t what one tries to sell to their kvlt black metal buddies, but Lychgate proudly boasts its presence on their eponymous debut. On a good portion of the album, the organ is integral to the stomach-churning atmosphere devised by the band. The organ isn’t the lone highlight, as Lychgate proves capable of handling black metal with substance.

One of Lychgate’s strengths is how they keep control of the tempos and pacing of their music. Black metal can disembark into a soulless canyon of repetitive noise if put into the wrong hands (excluding those who do that on purpose). There’s an audience who will devour blast beats for 40 minutes, but even the greats, like Immortal and Mayhem, didn’t just produce their first album multiple times over. Lychgate makes sure to not have to run into that situation if or when future recordings happen.

Instead of just relying on tremolo-picked guitars and sonic rhythm blasting, the band favors inserting those into spots that will give them the most value. Instead of numbing, they terrify with their incorporation after extended periods of grounded tempos. “Sceptre to Control the World” churns around a level-headed pace that implodes into hateful reproach about halfway through. “Against the Paradoxical Guild” is another track that does this in a respectable manner.

The instances where the more traditional values dispel is not a usual occurrence, at least not for extended periods. That gives their use a greater sense of urgency to the album. “In Self Ruin” appears after two well-mannered tunes to turn the intensity up, with shred-heavy guitar solos to let the chaos pour out. “When Scorn Can Scourge No More” is a straightforward closer, and though it’s not as quick to the punch as “In Self Ruin,” it still amasses quantities of intensity to work from.

Though the organ is prominent, this isn’t a symphonic-heavy album. There aren’t programmed orchestral flourishes, so Lychgate can’t get lumped in with Dimmu Borgir or Cradle of Filth. There are choirs incorporated into the interlude “Intermezzo,” but that’s as far as they get to the whole “symphonic black metal” label. The band dabbles with acoustic guitars on “Dust of a Gun Barrel,” a calming aura that’s is hindered by being buried low in the mix.

Lychgate set out to avoid appearing like stale newcomers with this self-titled effort. These guys are sharp writers, not just plugging away mindlessly on their instruments. The vocals are lethal, the guitars go beyond playing static riffs, and the drums make variety in the beats a top priority. This music is candy for the tooth-decayed misfits who can’t be satisfied anymore by dry and bland black metal.

Highs: Black metal with some surprises, grounded tempos allow for variety beyond typical blast beats and tremolo-picked riffs, organ used throughout the album to drench the album in a harrowing atmosphere

Lows: Use of acoustic guitar is lost in the thick of things

Bottom line: Lychgate puts in a stellar effort on their noteworthy self-titled debut.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)