Lychgate’s horrific new record ‘An Antidote for the Glass Pill’ mourns our societies, psyches


Photo by Kris T. Therrian

I’m completely convinced that there are forces everywhere who know what we’re doing at all time and can report anything undesirable back to whoever needs to know. Actually, I think I just mean that we all walk around with spy devices that can be used to track us and mark our every move (you know, our phones). That’s why the Edward Snowden story didn’t shock me in the least and kind of didn’t bother me. It seemed kind of obvious these things are going on.

I don’t know if that’s quite what Lychgate were thinking about when they created their cinematically terrifying new record “An Antidote for the Glass Pill.” But when sifting through the biographical material accompanying the music and indulging in the music, it’s where it took me in my head. The record is a concept piece that examines the negative aspects of post-modern life, especially psychologically and ho society has devolved, drawing upon Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon prison structure as inspiration, as well as Yevgeny Zamyatin’s dystopian nightmare novel “We” and Polish writer Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz’s brain-washing story “Insatiability.” In fact, the album’s title combines elements from each story and drives us headlong toward a terrifying vision of constant surveillance and being numbed into all-consuming, never-thinking sheep who sleep, work, eat, repeat. It’s something a lot of us probably don’t want to think too much about lest we stumble onto what’s really going on out there.

Lychgate coverWhile together as a band officially for the last few years, the band’s music was born as a concept nearly a decade ago. Vortigern, who handles guitars, vocals, and chants, is the one responsible for the words and music you hear on this record (opener “Unto My Tempest” aside), and he is joined by a notable cast that includes vocalist Greg Chandler (Esoteric); drummer/percussionist T.J.F. Vallely (Macabre Omen); guitarist S.D. Lindsley; bassist A.K. Webb; piano player F.A. Young; and organist K.J. Bowyer, who has a massive role on this record. The band weaves together a classically horrible tale, one that would be best shown on screen in a cobweb-draped, black-and-white setting, as the band’s gothic, dramatic black metal rains down and forces you to confront the story.

Introductory track “Unto My Tempest” raises the curtain on the album, with orchestral swirls, doom bells chiming, and weird playing that spills into “Davamesque B2” and its dramatic, shadow-drenched horror. The song is spooky and echoey at the start, turning into gurgly growling and sweeping playing, cinematic stretches that feel morbid, and finally ending in a bed a gigantic organs that make it seem like the beginning of a funeral mass. “I Am Contempt” continues the terror, with vicious, shrieked vocals that pierce and guitars that start to burn heavily and hover over the scene. The melodies swagger as the song winds down, with charnel bells once again striking and bringing a pall to the atmosphere. “A Principle of Conclusion” has keys fluttering and leading into pure savagery. The track is a wild menagerie of dark organs, journeys into proggy waters, and eventually a heavily hammering assault that aims to destroy. Keys create a fog and spiral out, leading toward “Letter XIX” that has chimes, boiling guitars, and harsh howls, with the song churning and bleeding and later delivering blinding lightning strikes. This song is huge enough to be presented on a major theater stage, with every member playing their part to weave the dark plotline.

“Deus te Videt” opens on a hypnotic noise loop, melting everything around it and turning it into lava, while a haunting choral section appears and opens up the door to apocalypse. The back end of the song is violent and turbulent, paving the way for “The Illness Named Imagination,” which fires up the huge organs again and growls that just wrench. The melodies pulsate and get in your bloodstream, while the band paints the corners with goth-bloodied brush strokes. “An Acousmatic Guardian” lets the keys blow in and toss papers and dust asunder, with gruff vocals grinding away and the music sweltering hard. The song plods along, taking its time to spill its guts, and right after keys sweep in and soak the ground, the track rips open and gives one more tough beating. “My Hate to Burn Forever” has guitars spurting, going back into proggy territory that makes this thing even more compelling. The track is allowed to boil lightly, with anguished screams disrupting and pastoral organs slamming closed the door. “The Pinnacle Known to Sisyphus” is a quick, 2:59-long closer that ties up all ends, acting as a perfect summary with dramatic dashes, clean singing, and a moody, rainy sentiment bringing the final splashes of morbidity.

Lychgate have created one of the boldest, most riveting metal albums of the year from a content standpoint, and the music sounds unlike anything else out there right now. “An Antidote for the Glass Pill” is one of those terrible stories in which you can get utterly lost, as you see everything unfold and realize that you’re a part of the plotline. There’s a lot more to our world than we’ll ever know, and Lychgate is trying to give you a glimpse into the minds of those who don’t exactly have our best interests in mind.

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