When London’s Lychgate released their self-titled debut LP in 2013, their big publicity hook was the involvement of guitarist/vocalist Greg Chandler. Chandler’s better known as one of two consistent members of Esoteric, a long-running and prolific doom metal band that helped to establish the lugubrious “funeral doom” subgenre during the mid-’90s. With any luck, An Antidote For The Glass Pill should fully deliver Lychgate from Esoteric’s shadow. This is a highly unusual album, even by the standards of a genre as fundamentally freaky as black metal. Multi-instrumentalist James “Vortigern” Young handles its most outré aesthetic touch — a prominent pipe organ that shares center stage with the guitars for much of the album. Organs have had a foothold in metal since the glory days of Deep Purple, but most bands opt for smoky, ’70s-ish tones. When pipe organs do appear, they’re usually signifiers for top-hat-sporting camp evil — think King Diamond or Dimmu Borgir. But Lychgate use it in a completely different context. They’ve chosen a technical, aggressive approach with a major penchant for dissonance as their starting point instead. Amidst such gnarled harmonies and intense performances, the organ takes on an unearthly howling quality that’s kind of terrifying to listen to. You can hear many good examples of this effect on “Letter XIX”, the first song to appear from An Antidote For The Glass Pill. In contrast, the organ plays a supporting role on “Deus Te Videt.” This is one of the more “normal” songs on the album, in the sense that its first half moves at a predictable 3/4 rhythm and even features some vocal melody, in the form of layered chanting from Young. That said, there’s still a guy chanting, and a bunch of other odd keyboard tones and loping cymbal patterns driving that rhythm. And when drummer Thomas Vallely whips this mixture into a froth with a blastbeat after a few minutes? That just ain’t normal. Listen.
An Antidote For The Glass Pill will be available on 8/18 via Blood Music. Preorder here.