Adobe Photoshop PDFThere are few bands that cause me as much discomfort, uneasiness, and paranoia as Leviathan does. What’s crazy about it is, I fucking love it. With their entire discography loaded in the queue, I sink deep into the night with over hour-long albums (minus True Traitor, True Whore) of torturous screams, ambient atmospheres, raw black-metal riffage, and depressive lyrical content. Leviathan albums are like cult indie films that you are completely floored by even if they are a chore to get through. You promise you’ll never watch that movie again, but before you know it, you’re finishing it for the third time in one night. And Wrest’s new outing is no different. After his legal issues with Moribund Records (and the near collapse of the band) during the Massive Conspiracy Against All Life release, and the controversial and unsettling content of True Traitor, True Whore (based around the sexual assault charges against Wrest), this one-man band from California is back with another nasty dose of depressing nightmares that dabble in the rawness and attitude of Tentacles of Whorror and the experimental aura of Massive Conspiracy Against All Life. After enough listens to make an itchy finger even itchier, I have finally pulled myself from this uniquely crafted abyss just long enough to write this damn review. Be warned, it’s kinda depressing.

Interestingly titled “-“ opens Scar Sighted with a calming Alcest/Ulver-like atmosphere that, while soothing, promises of something horrible to come. Follow-up track “The Smoke of Their Torment” jackknives this ambient soundscape with a blackened panzer, crushing and splitting everything in its path. But, being unable to stay on one topic too long, the song shifts gears and slows briefly in order to drop unsettling, nails-on-a-chalkboard fret work in its midsection. Add some disturbing sampling to the mix and you’ve got yourself the kind of trippy, mind-fucking formula that makes Leviathan one of the best USBM metal bands out there.

The nightmare continues with tightly pinched harmonics and a headbangable death riff in “Dawn Vibration,” before transitioning to a bass-heavy interlude full of agonized spitting. As with most of Leviathan’s material, Wrest lets loose with his mix of shrieks, screams, and banshee-isms that can be either torturous or heart-wrenching. For that warm-and-fuzzy unsettling feeling, look no further than the maelstrom that is “Within Thrall” and its sheets of screaming or the ten-minute, heartstring-tugging “Scar Sighted.” The title track is the quintessential mix of melody and pain that reminds me of the dearly missed Xasthur. Though long, its atmosphere and beautiful melodies wrap nicely around the nearly constant screeches of sadness and hopelessness.

Between the jerking riff changes and mind-fuckery, Wrest can also show restraint with numbers like “Wicked Fields of Calm,” which settles into a tunnel-shrieking melodic BM groove for its six-minute length. However, it is also the least memorable track on the album. Fans of the band know that Wrest is at his best when he mixes it up with his variety of low croaks and high-pitched screeching, his unsettling transitions between BM frenzies and plodding melodics, and his ability to keep you as uncomfortable as someone sharing a bedroom wall with a medieval torture chamber.

Leviathan Scar Sighted 02

As with the last couple releases, Wrest’s drumming is a real treat. From the clever rappings in the opening of “Gardens of Coprolite” to the death march of “All Tongues Toward,” Wrest’s subtleties weigh in heavily and with great effectiveness. The production here is much muckier than the previous True Traitor, True Whore and gives the record the charm of the back-catalog. The instrumentation and riffs are exactly what you would expect from Leviathan and tracks like “The Smoke of Their Torment” and “Dawn Vibration” even remind me of ditties from the show-stopping sophomore release, Tentacles of Whorror.

Scar Sighted shows Wrest back in form following the lackluster True Traitor, True Whore. This new release perfectly melds the old styles of The Tenth Sub Level of Suicide and Tentacles of Whorror with the more modern ambience of Massive Conspiracy Against All Life. While not as strong as his classic releases, Wrest’s new outing holds its own in the Leviathan discog. This is by no means a casual listen and with over an hour of depressive content, it can be utterly exhausting. But that’s how I like my Leviathan and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Profound Lore Records
Release Dates: EU: 2015.03.13 | NA: 03.03.2015

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  • Martin Knap

    According to Jehovah, the leviathan’s “sneezings flash forth light, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning. Out of his mouth go burning torches, and sparks of fire leap forth. Out of his nostrils a smoke goeth, as of a boiling pot and (burning) rushes. His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth forth from his mouth” (Job 41:18-21)

    they should do a split album with Behemoth. Behemoth & Leviathan, did you get it?

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Or have a baby called Leviamoth? EH?

      • You may be fired.

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          Dammit. I knew it was a big risk dropping that one and having you catch it…

    • I would put down top dollar for a Leviathan – Panopticon split filled with nothing but black metal lullabies. Their pictures with their respective babies are adorab… I mean kvlt as fuck.

      • Martin Knap

        best black metal supergroup of all time: Wrest, Austin Lunn and Varg Vikernes!

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          Whoa! Now this is just getting out of hand.

          • Martin Knap

            it doesn’t make sense, I know. but it makes my imagination flow :-)

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Don’t get me wrong. That would be quite the supergroup. I’m just afraid of the end-product. I feel like someone is gonna get stabbed…

          • Martin Knap

            haha, yeah. just putting guys like that in one room wouldn’t probably work out very well :-)

          • Monsterth Goatom

            I’m sure they’d start every session with a group hug.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Sounds like this one might be able to hold its own with Abyssal God’s Imperial Triumphant. However, I’ve yet to find a metal music track that’s as spooky as “Cursed Realms (of the Winterdemons)” off Sunn O)))’s Black One. If you’re in the mood for a shit hemorrhage, listen to this late at night when you’re alone and under the influence.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Hell yes! I’ve done/do that regularly.

  • I personally thought TT, TW was an impressive polaroid of Wrest’s state of mind at the time, as artistic outlets go, you can’t get more raw than what was carved there, controversial topic aside.

    But this, man, *this* is pushing both Imperial triumphant and acherontas back in my playlist. As turmoiled as TT, TW was, this is showing a much more focused Wrest, and I’m loving it.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I can’t argue the personal and intense outlet that TT, TW is. And I agree that this new release it is a much more harnessed beast without losing that rawness.

  • sir_c

    this is pretty sinister stuff! me likes

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Not sure about this, on the one hand this is a tale of redemption and rehabilitation that should be applauded. On the other hand…I don’t know, I think I’ll pass and watch from a distance.

  • BarryLeFreak

    Is his back catalogue better than this album? I haven’t really heard of Leviathan before so should I start with this album?

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      This is a really good album but I’m partial to The Tenth Sub Level of Suicide and particularly the Tentacles of Whorror.

      • BarryLeFreak

        Sweet I’ll check em out

  • Doomdeathrosh

    Well thats how I know my Leviathan works! Nice review Doc!

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Thanks very much!