Friday, March 20, 2015

Review: Leviathan, "Scar Sighted"

Early this month, Wrest released his new album as Leviathan, "Scar Sighted." Listen to it below, via Profound Lore on Bandcamp.

The bio there, where you can listen to the whole thing for free (as well as on Spotify—thank you, Wrest, for going to Profound Lore for this one), infers that this album is more like "Massive Conspiracy Against All Life," which is my favorite by Leviathan.

If one word could describe Leviathan, it would be "brutal." But he's such a complex writer that one word alone doesn't do his music justice. Wrest sticks to a place of dark depression and a love of death and suicide, and he wallows there, conjuring monsters and making universes of pain.

Here's a great review of "Scar Sighted" by Metal Injection writer J. Andrew Zalucky.

I've always loved this guy, this Wrest, this Jef Whitehed, this multi-genre, insane, one-of-a-kind-album-maker. But my least favorite album was his last, "True Traitor, True Whore." It's full of hatred for a woman, which is maybe the most played-out concept in music history. He also took the vowels out of the word "Leviathan" on the CD, and I'm like, what are you, texting me?

The music is cool, but all over the place, and it doesn't grab me. I can't get behind that much hatred directed at one person. In my opinion Wrest really went off on a tangent there, and if he'd just forgotten about that broad, he would have made a much better album than "True Traitor, True Whore."

Sure, she took him to court, and she probably took a lot of time and money from him, but he sounds like a mess of a person too, judging by his reaction. Profiting from an album fully devoted to debasing her is a form of poetic justice, but is it fair? We don't know. Only they know. I bet they think about it every day, and how stupid they both were, and how their dirty laundry was aired out publicly.

Wrest's life is insane. Whatever. I don't care. There's a divide there, between the life of the artist and their music, and IMO it's significant enough that listening to effed-up people's music is morally excusable—for the listener. And Wrest's music speaks volumes, and that's what I want. With "Scar Sighted," he delivers.

It's really relieving to hear Wrest's return to form on "Scar Sighted," both from the standpoint of a black metal fan, and a fan of Leviathan. The tracks are dense, and never leave the listener bored. He made a great album here, revealing secrets with each listen.

The second track, "The Smoke of Their Torment," kicks off the full-band-Leviathan feel, with downtuned guitars, sounding like they were equalized with an 80s metal sensibility. There's just enough emphasis on the bass that it's audible and keeps this insane sound grounded. Sweet riffs, total Leviathan style—always dissonant—distorted, yet clear. At any given time there are about seven or eight sounds happening. It's beautiful how Wrest controls chaos.

This song sounds like it could have been on Massive Conspiracy Against All Life. What sets it apart are the samples he throws in there, some dude saying, "Every fucking thing that crawls is gonna pay," and some other awesome stuff near the end of the song. Worshipping the beast and other such black metal nonsense.

"Dawn Vibration," track 3, also begins with sweet fucking guitars and some indescribably ambient weirdness. Exactly what I want.

As always, Wrest's drums are impeccable—well-recorded, well-played, well-mixed. He's a musical titan, this guy, his massive catalogue standing as testament.

At this point in Wrest's career, he reminds me of Jim Thirlwell—he does what he wants, finds work where he needs it, and supports himself with business knowledge and ruthless dedication to his art.

So, yeah, this is good shit. Sound Review-Approved. You're welcome, Leviathan, this review will make you famous.