Lychgate reside in the space of stylistic description found between the world of funeral doom and atmospheric black metal. The meeting of plodding, syrupy doom and scathing, frostbitten black metal speed results in an album bent on breaking the listener’s will to exist on the band’s self-titled debut.
A keyboard-driven intro opens the blackened ritual with an authoritarian presence, commanding attention and obedience to the enveloping display of dismal discourse to follow. Organs and punishing low end crunch propel the mouth of madness from the depths on “Resentment”. Thunderous double-kick accelerates the heart rate to a fevered pulse by invoking a sense of terror similar to Evoken but with far more urgency.
Vocals howl through the ether borne on the souls of the damned, lording over funereal plodding with gently undulating guitar waves dancing above the surface. “Against the Paradoxical Guild” surges ahead with a frantic desire, fleeing desperately through oppressive forests of gloom. For all Lychgate’s maniacal and diabolical vocalizing, an underlying despair permeates the album. Soaring tremolos rise from the gloom on a cloud of hope leading into the carnivorous carnival keys and blast-beaten black metal destruction of “In Self Ruin”. Solos walk the line between sanity and madness as a twisted jester’s evil revenge drips from every pore.
Working the balance of pace, blazing percussion and windblown low end and methodical higher frequencies advance through the murk of consciousness. The listener is affected by a sense of fear and apprehension blanketed in a fog of longing (“Sceptre to Control the World”) in a frantic attempt to escape the overwhelming feeling of dread introduced by the haunting keys. Choral chanting and eerie organs provide angelic reverberations and organic vibrations which transcend the physical plane. The martial beat of “Triumphalism” leads to a headlong flight into the heat of battle. Swirling riffs entwine the listener, mentally crushing your essence to a pale husk to be carried away the winds of ugliness.
At a slightly slower pace, the swelling riffs of “Dust of a Gun Barrel” push out at the membranes of sound with melancholic and forlorn acoustics. Despondent cries, pounding drums and crushing guitars hammer away at your mind threatening to bathe your world in pain. Closer “When Scorn Can Scourge No More” sees a headless horseman galloping away bearing the souls of the jaded and broken, transporting them to feed the blackened mass throbbing in the underbelly of humanity. Clean tones and doom-drenched bottom end are laced into the track balancing the two on a fulcrum of hate and disgust.
A clarity of production ensures every malicious sound is heard. Imperial-sized black metal drags the listener down a black hole of loathing and anguish into the gaping maw of Lychgate’s infernal majesty. Lychgate is a harrowing experience not for the faint of heart guaranteed to shrivel your soul into a black mass with its dense sonics and disorienting vocal ministrations. Open the Lychgate and beware.