There's a slew of albums coming out this year are clothed in unmistakably religious symbolism and I'm not quite sure how to take it. Following last year's Heretic Pride (a shout out to Prostestants? Anabaptists?) and their Satanic Messiah EP (I guess not), the Mountain Goats have recently revealed their new album, Life of the World to Come, set to come out later this summer. I'm starting to see a progression here and frankly, the concepts behind this new release sound a lot more interesting than last year's admirable but heavy-handed records. What are the Mountain Goats doing reading the Bible? Life's first single, "Genesis 3:23," is a finely tuned folk ballad with a chorus that, quite appropriately repeats the line "I used to live here." Each track is named after a different verse from the Bible and will, I expect, feature the same sort of bittersweetness. I'm interested to see how ambiguous they allow this album to be (which should correlate to its overall quality). My hope is that it will be something comparable in tone to last year's City of Refuge by the Castanets.
Another, perhaps less suprising release is the new album by Om, entitled God is Good, which follows 2007's Pilgrimage. Now I'm aware that a lot of black metal subverts religious concepts, but it seems like Om is going another route (or maybe I'm just really naive) - either they're making an attempt to parody and ultimately subvert religious imagery, or perhaps their interest is an aesthetic one? Are they following Sun 0)))'s devastating Monoliths and Dimensions, a very strong candidate for 2009's best album, whose album centrepiece "Big Church" fuses a macabre metal with droning walls of sound? It's an album about death and the void; and what better entry point than that hollowed-out ghost-town called religious tradition?
One of my most anticipated albums of the year, Atlas Sound's Logos, sees Bradford Cox returning to the kind of spiritual concepts that have infused Deerhunter's best material. The Flourescent Grey EP, whose title track seems to me like a meditation on Christ's flesh (attentive to the strangeness or humanness of the "logos"), is probably the best example of this bizarre interest in transcendence - which is ultimately what Deerhunter's sound is all about. Logos sounds like it could be another winner. If you haven't heard the first single, "Walkabout" featuring Panda Bear (!), I suggest you do so RIGHT NOW! Cox has alwayts taken himself way too seriously, but calling his new album Logos takes the cake. Seriously, would anyone have had the gall to use that title ten years ago? Is this evidence of an increasing secularization (where religious ideas are put into service of a higher aesthetic or artistic truth), or are people realizing that there's something worthwhile about revisiting religious traditions. Perhaps we haven't left them behind after all. Perhaps we can't.