To the point of no return. That is a statement which can be made about many Black Metal albums, because once you start spinning the disk you really have reached the point of no return. With that, you are then pummeled with an unstoppable onslaught of reverb, blast beats, and horrible shrieks which the normal person would find unbearable. We Black Metallers are a hardened crowd indeed, taking what could be called music's darkest and most brutal form and embracing it as our form of expression and throughput to the world we simply mock. It may be the full on hatred that almost all Black Metal bands release in their work that creates that allure for us, but what I can say is true is that Black Metal and it's dark followers are a breed of their own.
What is synonymous with Black Metal though? I bet you could come up with a hundred stereotypes which actually are mainly true, but most all of this centers around the Scandinavia region of Europe, certainly not the United States. But alas, here we are, looking California's Leviathan
right in it's hardened, satanist eyes. Releasing a total of 28 EP's, LP's, Demos, Compilations, and Splits since 1998, it is easy to say that Leviathan
has been pretty active. Leviathan
is a one man band, consisting of the evil, sinister mastermind Wrest. It's easy to point out Leviathan
as the best American Black Metal band out there, with some seriously evil material the likes of which is pretty much never seen in America. With 2005's Howl Mockery At The Cross
we have a collection of demos labeled by Wrest as "Selections remembered from the damaged cassettes recorded from 2000-2002.", which he follows afterward with the comment "This is not a release of retrogression.... but of chronology"
Demos usually aren't that good right? Wrong. Wrest collected some of the best songs from these demos and sewed them together into one monster of a collection. From the crashing start of Summoning Lupine
to the bitter end of Nothing Changes
this is a trip into the depths of hell. This is simple, pure Black Metal, but Wrest manages to add his own touches to the songs. Whether it be some spine-tingling riffs or even a brooding sound of a deranged animal growling, it is sure to scare many listeners.
The guitars are vastly better than what I'm used to from The Tenth Sub Level Of Suicide
, being distorted and sinister sounding, but also churning out some of the best Black Metal riffing I've heard yet. Wrest writes some great riffs which are catchy, headbanger's material but still manage to attain that raw, diabolical sound which Leviathan
is known for. Take a look at the opening riff to the blasphemous Liar Of Nazareth
, with sweeping guitars turning into a riff of pure Black Metal ecstasy. Also notable are the riffs in Just Under Tainted Grace
, Lycanthropus Rex
, and Summoning Lupine
. Even the bass shines in this album, something which I can't say occurs much. The bass is utilized as a main instrument at some points, rather than background filler. This helps Wrest create some of the dark atmospheres he is so good at forming. It's just great when the guitars fade away to reveal a great bass line, a nice change from what I'm used to with Metal albums. The drums are also very solid, and get the job done well. Wrest was quoted in an interview saying that the drums are his instrument of choice, and the one he has the most experience with, it's just a shame he doesn't get a real chance to shine on the drums.
review would not be complete without mentioning the pure hatred and diabolical evil in Wrest's tortured cries. Although his vocals are obviously distorted in some way, the vocals just add to the atmosphere which is created, just flattening you with a brooding, hateful feeling. Also used to great effect are some ambient noises, such as the frightening growling of a beast used in Lycanthropus Rex
, all adding to the ever present feeling of despair.
I cannot say there is a upbeat part of this entire album, it is all just one trip to the point of no return. Certainly a fantastic Leviathan
album, everything from the cover art to the bass is crafted with the utmost perfection, all weaving itself together to create one of the most evil Black Metal albums around.
+Some Memorable Guitar Riffs
+Atmosphere Is Immaculately Produced
+Great Use Of Ambient Noises
-Production Could Be Better
-The Last Track Is A Bit On The Weak Side
-Drumming Isn't Anything Special
Liar Of Nazareth
Just Under Tainted Grace