Stop what you’re doing, unless what you’re doing is jamming Lychgate’s The Contagion in Nine Steps. The British avant-garde black metallers are back with their third studio album and it’s absolutely essential listening for 2018.

The Contagion in Nine Steps is one of the most dynamic records you’ll hear this year, with each experimental transition refined at an Opeth or Paradise Lost level. Along with fiendishly heavy guitars and Luciferian vocals, Lychgate put a huge emphasis on organ, piano and mellotron. The result is something between black metal, progressive death metal, King Diamond, Bach, ancient chant and funeral doom.

This may sound like jamming 10 pounds of influence into a five pound bag, but each piece of Lychgate’s puzzle is perfectly crafted for a snug interlock. The themes within The Contagion in Nine Steps are just as ambitious, inspired by the swarm behavior exhibited caused by machines in Stanislaw Lem’s book The Invincible along with the philosophy of Plato, Hegel, Le Bon and Canetti.

“As with many dystopian works which inspire this project, I prefer to think of the ninth step as being characteristic of numerous negative traits – evidence of a downturn in a civilization – traits which make me pessimistic,” guitarist J.C. Young ‘Vortigern’ tells Metal Injection, who premiered the full Contagion album stream.

This album is a beast with a thousand faces and it could soon be regarded as a masterwork of 2010s metal. The Contagion in Nine Steps will be released March 30 via Blood Music, but you can stream the album in full above.

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