For over a decade, Haela Ravenna Hunt-Hendrix has cloaked her shapeshifting metal band Liturgy in a dense matrix of symbology. Diving into her Substack and YouTube channel, where she connects dots between Marxist thought, the Upanishads, Thomas Aquinas, and Aleister Crowley, can be as enlightening as it is mystifying. For all of Hunt-Hendrix’s theorizing, though, the music has always been thrillingly physical. It’s one thing to read about her concept of the “burst beat” and how her rapid-fire rhythms are intended to induce a state of awakening and transformation. It’s another thing to simply feel it.
Devotees willing to trawl through Hunt-Hendrix’s countless diagrammatic wireframes may notice a recurring theme, perhaps best encapsulated by the title of one of her videos: “What Will Heaven Be Like? (Part 1).” Hunt-Hendrix’s music reaches toward utopian catharsis, reshaping the craven and nihilistic timbres of black metal into blissful, glowing pillars of sound. In her manifestos, she’s described a desire to create music that pushes listeners toward self-discovery and actualization, a goal that’s taken on more personal weight after she came out as trans in 2020. “Gender dysphoria is a huge part of what made me make this music,” she told the Needle Drop. 93696, whose title is intended to mean “heaven” according to Hunt-Hendrix’s interpretation of Thelemic numerology, plays as its name suggests: This is Liturgy in their purest form, tapping all of their strengths to reach their most radiant incarnation yet.