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Lychgate - The Contagion in Nine Steps

Lychg­ate
The Con­ta­gion in Nine Steps
2018, Blood Music

An Anti­dote for the Glass Pill was one of my favour­ite releases of 2015. This one is bet­ter.

Lychg­ate is usu­ally classed as a black metal band, and while there is cer­tainly a heavy black ele­ment present, the band con­tin­ues to push the envel­ope of what extreme metal can be. There is a strong pipe organ pres­ence in many of the tracks, and the com­pos­i­tions don’t abide by any straight­for­ward metal pro­gres­sion.

Like in much clas­sical music, it’s not any kind of verse–chorus struc­ture that binds the tracks together, but a repe­ti­tion of motifs and col­our­ings. The second and standout track “Unity of Oppos­ites” is a pre­fect example, with the recog­nis­able main theme return­ing at dif­fer­ent points through­out a piece that is extremely diverse.


What is great on this album is the increased diversity of vocal styles, ran­ging from extreme metal screams and growls to more chant-like sec­tions, as well as the occa­sional soar­ing, slightly raw, single voice. This is some­thing that can safely be left to vocal­ist Greg Chand­ler, of Eso­teric fame.

And per­haps it’s that influ­ence too that led to a funeral doom track such as “Atav­istic Hyp­nosis”, a track that, like the oth­ers, dis­plays a strong influ­ence from clas­sical com­pos­i­tion, not just in its piano and organ melod­ies, but also in the way the gui­tars accen­tu­ate the whole. Trust me, not many bands can pull this off.

I’m not going to give you a com­plete play-by-play, although the other tracks are def­in­itely not inferior to these two. What you should know is that The Con­ta­gion in Nine Steps is the kind of album that can take your mind places where it would not usu­ally ven­ture. It’s dark, yes, but not oppress­ive, more fas­cin­at­ing than for­bid­ding, an essen­tial album for those who like their metal to be adven­tur­ous, ambi­tious, and uncom­prom­ising in its vis­ion.


Reviewed by Μηλινόη