|Liturgy Of Decay
|First Psalms (Psalms Of Agony And Revolt – First And Early Shape)
Our webzine has always been characterized by the choice to review (almost) exclusively hard copies, completely explained by M1's article "An Apology Of The Physical Copy". Althrough our modus operandi remained absolutely unchanged, it is without any doubt that instances for which is worth doing an exception do exist; so, Liturgy Of Decay's debut is one of these.
Setting aside for once our ideology is critical to not be prejudiced against a choice not dictated by the convenience of MP3 files, but as a necessity derived from the desire to create a product that is not just a collection of songs; other than the ten tracks, this release contains a twenty-three-pages-long manifesto, where the thought behind the project is explained, and an app built specifically to accompany the music with visual effects. You may have guessed we are talking about an ambitious project completed only by Iokanaan's mind — with various support musicians followed one another over time — will certainly have required considerable time, as witnessed by the PDF presentation that says the it started in 2007.
I want to start from the manifesto, just to get rid of it: was it really necessary to fill the explanation beating around the bush through endless words, metaphors that intertwine one another and so on just for the taste to make text appear highfalutin and solemn? I know, most assuredly the ideas are there and surely deserve to be examined in depth to understand the work, but in my opinion they are so much dispersive because of the really long periphrasis that are incredibly difficult to follow; so the criticism is not to the contents, but to the way they are expressed. On the other hand, I must admit that the feeling of reading a sacred text is there, so I can't fully condemn this choice, while deeming it to be overdone. Given this premise, the themes here treated tell us about the return of the human being to the light through the sublimation of the self and the rejection of society imposed limits, from which is essential to distance ourselves in order to not fall into the darkness that pervades today's world; I know I did the opposite error of what I just complained about — that is the excessive simplification — but due to space and time limitations, if you want to know more I recommend you to read the original text.
We come then to the album itself, in which I'll also include the visual work because it's closely tied to the music. Liturgy Of Decay's sound is without doubt original: deeply gothic in its essence, made of a bound between light and darkness inspired by Metal acts like Tiamat and Moonspell, by the Goth Rock of The Sisters Of Mercy and Bauhaus, and by the Darkwave of Dead Can Dance, with an approach sometimes feels to me like The Cure; a mix that makes me think to Deviate Damaen for the dramatic and spiritual theatricality that comes from the religious settings meeting the energy of strong and dark music genres, in addiction absorbing electronic elements and with a heart-felt performance on vocals as the icing on the cake. The pipe organ, a very important presence, is followed by aggressive guitars and by sytnhentic and mechanic drums that beat the rhythm without exceeding in speed, still being are able to give dynamics to the tracks; you realize since the opener "Mental Damage" about the intensity of the music that gets more worth thanks to the animations where vivid colors unite to the darkness in both naturalistic and architectural pics. To get an idea I recommend to watch the video for "Tristiana", where you can see the light and shadow plays following the music pace, a well-crafted idea that gives another dimension to the release.
Iokanaan surely is able to vary his music, for example sometimes by entering Middle-Eastern feelings as in the majestic "Suffering the Idyll" and in some way even in the next, marked out by melodies not too distant from Cradle Of Filth; "The Temptation Of Being" is distinguished instead by danceable rhythms, while the final track "Dolores" presents more tragic and liturgic traits. With a lot of synths which — as in the past — don't need to hide their artificial nature and guitars instead exploiting at their best the real instrument's potential, the real constant remains the artist's voice: almost always crystal clear, getting aggressive only when needed, however always distinguished by an intensity and passion accentuated by a reverb and fitting to the words that flows with the animations, sometimes showing off the use of Latin language to make everything yet more solemn; tracks like "Symphony Of Curses", "Tales Of Betrayals" and "Mental Damage" hit the point particularly for this characteristic, with a particular note on the ghost track "My Lonely Failure".
It is pointless to underline that for many reasons "First Psalms" is not an album like the others and so it asks attention to be enjoyed; details such as the gothic graphical appearence of the reader — you can see it on the cover — merely confirm the great painstaking work behind this release, which should also get an alternate version in the future. If you are looking for music with personality in a Gothic overview which too often rests on the usual stereotypes, Liturgy Of Decay could really be a great choice.