Review Summary: Utterly dark and technical solo black metal from Harrogate, results are brilliant
Black metal is the only genre where a one man project is truly acceptable, exceptions are around, such as Nine Inch Nails etc, but in black metal it really works, there are many examples, such as Burzum, Bathory, Leviathan, Xasthur etc. An addition to these esteemed ranks can now be found in Written In Torment, the one man band of sole member Leviathan hailing from Harrogate, England. Whilst not the cold Kvlt landscape one would expect of a black metal project, it has managed to produce here a powerful and brilliant sound that can be heard on debut album Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes
, translating to 'The War of All Against All'.
Sole member Leviathan plays all the instruments on this album, and is clearly adept at all of them, the drums are powerful and technical, ranging from brutal blast beats and double bass to complex rhythms with ease, the guitars are just as diverse, ranging from standard black metal tremolo riffs to almost thrashy sounds to then turn to complex solos within a song. Each track on this album evolves, not staying on the same riff and sound as can be found in some songs by Burzum and other solo projects, but numerous riffs, tempo changes and sounds arise within each song, so no one sound stays too long, so nothing becomes boring, Leviathan has composed music that is capable of switching between majestic and powerful heights such as on Grief
and Eternities Of Suffering Endured
to dark crunching dirty tracks such as Beast From The Depths
and Necessary Evil
, even producing an instrumental in track Solitude
, nothing sounding forced or out of place. Leviathan draws on lots of influences, ranging from traditional black metal bands such as Dissection, Emperor and Mayhem, to thrash metal. The bass unfortunately can get lost in the sound, but when it rears up it produces interesting lines, showing a technical proficiency in this realm too.
Vocally, Leviathan produces a roar of a sound, almost stepping into death metal vocal territory, whilst the range is not as wide as other vocalists, the power behind the voice more than makes up for it, you can hear the emotion behind the rasping sound, as he screams about war, Anti-Christianity and other equally dark subjects. The sound fits perfectly with the music, slotting in like the final piece on a beautifully crafted, blood soaked jigsaw puzzle. Lyrically, it won't blow your mind, the album is mainly focussed, as said before on the subject of war, and the lyrics are well put together, not becoming laughable and cringe worthy like other black metal albums may, but not reaching the poetic realms of other lyricists, rather they are in the middle, sitting well with the music.The production on the album is exactly as a black metal album should be, not crystal clear like a pop album, it should retain a dark, murky edge to it, not quite as bad as Darkthrone, but not perfect.
The only negative I could perceive, that didn't bother me, but may be an issue with others, is the length, at 55 minutes and 54 seconds it is a long album, for me this was an easy thing to sit through, because I thoroughly enjoyed every minute, but for others this may be a challenge to hear from start to finish.
So overall, for a debut release, this is brilliant, sitting up there with some of the great solo black metal albums. For an album that has been in the making for seven years it has reached a brilliant conclusion and should be on the agenda of any black metal fan as a must listen.