Lychgate- An Antidote for the Glass Pill

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Sunday, November 1, 2015

Lychgate’s sophomore effort An Antidote for the Glass Pill is an album I’ve had in my review queue for a while now, but it has taken some time to fully absorb everything that is happening throughout its ten songs. While the band’s 2013 self-titled debut had a distinguishable black metal base with avant-garde elements seeping in to give the record its own nuances, Lychgate has upped them even further this time around for a sound that’s no longer solely black metal but still captures that haunting, tense atmosphere. More progressive and avant-garde than ever before, it’s a rollercoaster ride of an effort that demands effort from the listener to fully make sense of, but those who choose to do so will discover that this British group has pushed beyond the normal genre boundaries and reached a sound that is all their own.

An Antidote for the Glass Pill is significantly longer than its predecessor, coming in at close to 50 minutes in length. Lychgate makes it clear from the very beginning that this record is going to head in drastically different directions while still maintaining that tense and otherworldly atmosphere they were able to create previously. The organ and keyboards are now front and center, driving the instrumentals forward on every single track, with the eerier melodies creating much fuller soundscapes that are as unsettling as they are theatrical in nature. Black metal still plays a role in the guitar tonality but the song structures are no longer oriented around that genre’s typical instrumentation, with quite a few sections coming in as slower dirges and twisting around to have more of a progressive/avant-garde feel. It can be a lot to take in right from the get-go, and while the prominence of the organ and keyboards makes each song on An Antidote for the Glass Pill fit together stylistically they all take a slightly different approach and have so much going on that it will likely take multiple listens to fully absorb. But give this one the time it needs and you’ll discover that Lychgate is able to reach absolutely stunning levels of thick atmosphere that once everything clicks into place you’ll find yourself returning to it again and again. It’s hard to think of another album in recent memory that sounds anywhere close to what the instrumentalists have put together here, as it’s half black metal and bleak, forlorn doom crossed with traditional church organs and some spacey keyboards that wouldn’t sound out of place on a progressive rock record.

Greg Chandler once again delivers an intense performance, sticking towards the higher end of the spectrum with shrieks and screams that tower over the layered instrumentals. While the instrumentation may not always be focused on heaviness, the abrasive nature of Chandler’s vocals fill in those gaps and there are quite a few sections where his room filling screams fully merge with the organs and other melodies to create a truly terrifying and spine chilling sound. I do think that sticking with the harsher ranges for the entire 50 minutes could have potentially become repetitive, so it’s nice to see that there are moments where Lychgate transitions over to some chanting and other clean pitches that have an occult, ritualistic sound. While completely on the opposite side of the spectrum in style, they’re still just as ominous and powerful, allowing the performance to consistently overwhelm the listener’s senses.

An Antidote for the Glass Pill finds Lychgate shedding almost all of their traditional black metal elements in favor of something much more twisted and unpredictable. It has an unmistakable theatrical flair emanating from the organs and keyboards, but it’s used in a way that gives off a tense and unsettling feeling that’s just as dark and twisted as anything else you’ll hear in the black metal or doom realms this year. The emphasis on a more avant-garde and progressive approach to the writing makes it an album that will take some time to fully immerse yourself in, as there’s always something different happening on each song and quite often you’ll expect the band to be heading in one direction only for them to throw a complete curveball. But that’s what makes it such an exciting listen, especially once everything clicks into place, and these guys have managed to make an ambitious push beyond into the unknown. Turn the lights off and let all of the eerie and haunting tones fill your room, and you’ll start to get an idea of what Lychgate is capable of generating.

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