The project of Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, Liturgy unites metal, experimental, and classical music -- as well as sacred ritual -- while challenging conventional notions about all of the above. On 2009's Renihilation, the band's self-described "transcendental black metal" gave a meditative quality to the style's quintessential circular riffs, ferocious vocalizations, and blastbeats. With 2011's widely acclaimed Aesthethica, they pushed the boundaries of what their music, as well as metal, could be, adding vocal polyphony and complex structures to their attack. Over the years, Liturgy's music grew more ambitious and intricate, from 2015's electronics and chromatic percussion-enhanced The Ark Work to the video opera Origin of the Alimonies (which they released as an album in 2020). Even as the project's music became more sophisticated, it always focused on Hunt-Hendrix's passionate quest for spiritual ecstasy.
Based in Brooklyn, New York, Liturgy began as the solo project of Hunter Hunt-Hendrix. In 2008, it expanded to a four-piece with the addition of guitarist Bernard Gann, drummer Greg Fox, and bassist Tyler Dusenbury. Impressed by the band's intense blastbeats, cyclical guitars, and howling vocals, 20 Buck Spin signed Liturgy and released their debut album, Renihilation, in May 2009. Produced by Krallice's Colin Marston, it won acclaim for how it eschewed traditional metal iconography in favor of a powerfully spiritual quality. Liturgy signed to Thrill Jockey (which reissued Renihilation in 2014) and pushed the boundaries of metal even further with May 2011's Aesthethica. Once again produced by Marston, the album was heavier and more complex, and placed on the year-end lists of several prominent publications.
After Aesthethica's release, Hunt-Hendrix and Gann toured as a duo version of Liturgy. The band then took a break while Hunt-Hendrix retooled Liturgy's sound. During that time, Survival, her project with longtime collaborators Greg Smith and Jeff Bobula, released a self-titled album on Thrill Jockey in 2013. When she returned to Liturgy in late 2014, the project's music expanded to include everything from MIDI horns to bagpipes to liturgical chants to indie rock. Fox and Dusenbury returned to record The Ark Work, a provocative and polarizing set that arrived on Thrill Jockey in March 2015.
In 2016, Hunt-Hendrix launched her electronic solo project Kel Valhaal with New Introductory Lectures on the System of Transcendental Qabala, which expanded on the mythologies she established on Liturgy's albums. Hunt-Hendrix's ambitions continued to grow with 2018's Origin of the Alimonies. A video opera that she composed, directed, and starred in, the piece was shown in New York City with Liturgy and an 11-piece chamber ensemble performing its live score. A year later, the opera was performed live in Los Angeles with the Sonic Boom Ensemble. Also in 2019, Hunt-Hendrix debuted her trap-meets-djent project Ideal with the single "Seraphim." She capped off the year with the November release of Liturgy's fourth album, H.A.Q.Q. Related to her series of video lectures on social media, it was the project's first album to appear on Hunt-Hendrix's label YLYLCYN and the first to feature bassist Tia Vincent-Clark and drummer Leo Didkovsky. A year later, the label issued Origin of the Alimonies as an album with an accompanying video a few months after Hunt-Hendrix announced her status as a trans woman. ~ Heather Phares