Review Summary: Wrest does wonders on Leviathan' Massive Conspiracy Against All Life, creating a black metal album full of experimentation and strange ambience.
There were a few reasons why I absolutely hated black metal, when nu-metal was still sounding fresh to me a number of years ago. Firstly, the atrocious production sounded sloppy and unpolished, leaving me frustrated and with a huge migraine. Second, the buzzing guitars and lack of variety in the vocal department (raspy vocals are still tasteless to this day) were also huge turnoffs. Thirdly, the cheesy ‘Kiss’ appearance and the image effect that these bands were going for made me *** my pants with laughter. Generally, these are very common complaints that I see plastered all over internet forums and reviews for black metal albums. With repetitive objections such as these, it’s a wonder how people even begin to comprehend what makes black metal special in the first place. Its actually very simple; you understand the harsh ideology that bands like Burzum and Mayhem bring to the table and you can either choose to laugh and ignore it or you begin to notice the subtle nuances that are flowing within each song (ie. a tremolo picked guitar line that stands out after you’ve sifted through the horrible production that most black metal records thrive upon). Leviathan’s Massive Conspiracy Against All Life
brings forth these black metal stereotypes but throws in a splash of creative ingenuity to craft an almost perfect black metal record.
Continuing upon Leviathan’s last spectacular album Tentacles Of Whorror
, Wrest, who is the one sole member of this band, provides an overall big step forward with his ideas and musicianship. Condensing and tightening (or expanding) his songs into seven, eight plus minute epic black metal opuses, Wrest wrestles and succeeds at creating long, brooding songs rather than going straight for the kill like he did with most of the songs off Tentacles of Horror
. Already Massive Conspiracy Against All Life
might sound a little tedious, especially for people who like their black metal steak cut up instead of being served as a whole. Fear not as the songs themselves go off in several different directions frequently without drawing out what could have been a five minute song drawn out into a 20 minute marathon (Wolves in the Throne Room’ Two Hunters
did this masterfully in 2007). Massive Conspiracy Against All Life
uses Leviathan’ past albums as a centre point and expands outward, expressing Wrest’s interests into a more focused and expansive black metal album.
Its amazing how well put together this album is, considering the man behind it all, Wrest (who again has taken a few notes from one-man black metal bands such as Xasthur, Burzum and Striborg to name a few) puts all of his efforts into vocals guitars, drums, bass, keyboards, and sound effects. This is an amazing accomplishment considering the tedious nature of his music and how well put together it sounds. Even the production comes through quite nicely for a black metal album, allowing the listener to pick up on the instruments clearly the first listen through. Don’t get me wrong though, this is still a somewhat raw affair, especially when Wrest goes off into gloomy, dark passages where guitar and sound effects poke their head out of the fog, creating a wretched atmosphere that is reminiscent to the post metal scene except sounding darker and merciless in their displays. These strange passages that change up frequently with traditional, harrowing black metal are topped off by Wrest’ raspy vocals that are for the most part indiscernible. Wrest’s hellish soundscape nightmares are coupled with blast beats and screeching guitar lines that are executed with a surprising amount of variation, creating some fastidious twists and turns in the songs to give us non-elitist black metal fans (see Darkthrone’ Transilvanian Hunger
and Ulver’ Nattens Madrigal
for a lack of variety in song structure) an album that will always serve as a fresh approach to black metal.
Wrest has produced a fantastic album here, no ifs or buts about it. If your ears were severely disabled after listening to Wrest’ side project, Lurker of Chalice’ self-titled album in 2005, you need not worry here. Leviathan is a far different entity than Wrest’s counterparts in the black metal industry, specializing in creating a more ‘frightening effect’ than pure hatred that is displayed throughout most black metal records. Massive Conspiracy Against All Life
capitalizes on black metal experimentation with weird ambience that can be both unsettling and unrelenting at the same time, taking the listener on an impressive black metal expedition; down a narrow, creepy stairway into the depths of hell. Surely to end up on many best-of metal lists for 2008, this is a black metal album that shouldn’t be overlooked.