The Contagion in Nine Steps

Some say there is a very fine line between genius and insanity, and the UKs eclectic Doom act Lychgate stand astride the line with a confident swagger and sneer, looking down among their peers. But insanity and genius also comes with pitfalls- just ask Dali, Warhol and Van Gogh.

I had seen the first two albums (2013 Self titled and 2015s  An Antidote for the Glass Pill) from these guys reviewed with overwhelmingly positive results on these very pages, so I thought I would give the third album a go. And while I’m not coming away with the same warm glow as my peers, I can see how Lychgate’s avant garde take on doom could be seen as genius. However, I’m leaning more toward the insane side of the fence.

With members of  revered doom act Esoteric (Greg Chandler) as well as folks from an array of genres such as Macabre Omen, The One, Ancient Ascendant and such the bloodlines explain the eclectic approach sometimes blacker hues as well as heavy use of church organs and chants. But for me, doom metal, even it its more ambitious forms, is about crushing despondency and mood, and Lychgate is a far more bipolar, unpredictable beats that to these ears comes across like Paradise Lost‘s debut played  on vinyl with a bunch of scratches that make the riffs jump about and skip while feverish escaped asylum folks play a church organ and chant in the back ground.

As I stated in my opening paragraph, to some, this sound will be considered a year best, genius, forward thinking, grandiose atavistic, affair. And to others, (me) an exercise in doom paced chaos akin to Pan Thy Monium on barbiturates, but the church organ replacing the Saxophone.  And that’s a shame, I enjoy Church Organs/ chants and crushing doom (used to perfection in Pantheist, who Chandler has helped out), but the riffs which stagger and scatter with paranoia and unease (again, some would consider brilliant and effective) never settle into anything I can truly appreciate or sink my teeth into or let wash over me in swathes of emotion.

It’s a jittery, jumpy, if still cavernous and doomy structure that’s encapsulated by the title track of sorts “The Contagion” , where off key pianos, chants, growls and clean croons and screams collide with lurching stop start riffs. Or opener “Republic”, where the church organs and riffs battle with lurching off key kaleidoscopic insanity.  All elements that I would typically enjoy on their own, but when colliding with such Dali-esque eccentricity, it loses some of it’s depth on me and a track like “Unity of Opposites” completely loses me.

The definition of avant garde isn’t lost on me here. I really wanted to love this, and can see how many will in fact, love this album. And I get that these guys are pushing the boundaries, but personally, I prefer the more toned down and traditional doom gait and  somber regality of closer “Remembrance”  with its Garm like clean vocals. But those wanting a more challenging, genre shattering take on doom metal, Lychgate will fuel your fever dreams perfectly.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
April 24th, 2018


  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    this is more like slow avant garde black metal to me than conventional doom. it’s so good.

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