With its elaborate stage makeup, histrionic vocals, brutally fast rhythms, and lyrics whose obtuseness rivals seminars on dead languages, black genre is often dismissed as the “Dungeons & Dragons” of the music world, an opinion that almost proves its listeners right: making jokes is easy. Loving it in spite of itself is hard, and worthy of respect.
Into this fiercely protective enclave has entered a new crop of bands that forgo the face paint and black leather of old, including Brooklyn-based acts Krallice and Liturgy, the latter of which has been praised for its pulse-accelerating performances and singled out for front man Hunter Hunt-Hendrix’s writings on the genre (a former Columbia philosophy student, he wrote an essay titled “Transcendental Black Metal” that has inspired heated debate in the metal version of a rap beef: the well-written open letter).
As Liturgy continues touring in support of its acclaimed second album, “Aesthethica,” amNY spoke with Hunt-Hendrix.
How have you perceived the response to “Aesthethica”? It’s been a really unusual reaction. It seems like a lot of records either get a lot of attention and people like them, or they just don’t get very much attention. This has been unusual, because there’s been a lot of attention and also a lot of scandal, in a way. It’s interesting to put something out there and see what’s going to happen.
With non-metal outlets such as The New Yorker and NPR covering your band and especially the reactions to it, do you worry people aren’t talking about the music? People used to ask about the music, and now I’m getting questions about [the] coverage [of the] coverage. It’s a surprise that the music itself isn’t center stage, but I think the music is what we are most proud of. At the same time, a rock band isn’t just music. There is something to being a band that goes beyond the songs and the performances.
You’re saying art and music can’t really exist outside culture and context? Totally. I think that’s especially true with rock. I don’t think the importance of Black Flag, or something like that, is just their awesome songs. It’s also their whole ethic, their ideas, and the way they choose to present themselves. It’s not just about the sounds.
What’s next? There are a couple of ideas for our next project. I’ve been working on new material a lot since I’ve been home from touring. Things are kind of shifting, in a way. I don’t want to talk too much right now about what happens next, but it will be a progression.
If you go: Liturgy is at Irving Plaza on Thursday at 7 p.m. 17 Irving Pl., 212-777-6800. $21.50.