For Fans Of
Welcome to the musical abyss – the point where any lingering positivity falls abruptly into a dark aural demise. For convenience, relevance and loose artistic comparison, Dante’s foreboding quote, “Abandon hope all ye who enter here,” seems a fitting disclaimer going into the new full-length from US black metal identity, Leviathan (A.K.A Wrest…A.K.A Jef Whitehead).
This music, whether intended or not, is empowered by a glass half-empty view of the world. Innovative and determined, ‘Scar Sighted’ is purposeful…the kicker though, this focus is directly channelled into a twisted and engaging collection of metal despair.
The aforementioned record is one of the most profoundly bleak albums delivered from speakers (or headphones) to the ears in a long time. Decisive and impressionable, ‘Scar Sighted’ drips with a sense of overwhelming dread and misery. At times sounding like something lifted from the soundtrack to John Carpenter’s The Thing, these 10 tracks offer an imposing journey.
The backstory that follows this release (click here for a quick refresher) only serves to add more authenticity to the tone of the album. It is metal after all, so controversy is expected or at the very least, always implied.
However, let’s depart with the themes of the record and not become so caught up with societal concerns that we can’t see the forest for the trees. We’re not here to speculate, pass judgement or provide commentary on personal life issues and alleged shortcomings. Instead, the blinkers should be applied exclusively to the music itself.
The studio album is clearly defined and the music, for the most part, excels. The performance and skill set is noteworthy and the delivery impressive. Whitehead, after a slightly lacklustre predecessor (2011’s ‘True Traitor, True Whore’), again appears comfortable on record. While delivered in vulnerable form, Leviathan’s music is still one of confidence. Existing in isolation, ‘Scar Sighted’ doesn’t pretend to justify itself or insist on the listener, it’s just a reflection of a musician affirming his musical vocation.
With lyrics that are hardly discernable, things quickly become menacing. ‘The Smoke of Their Torment’ is guttural – the title says it all, really. Conversely, ‘Dawn Vibration’ is traditional, with those bellowing refrains at the mid-way point simply creepy.
The longer each respective track goes though; things do tend to become a bit muddled. The transition between styles requires an intimate understanding of the intricacies of the genre. Therefore, instead of tracks becoming renowned for their consistency and continuity from start to finish, it’s precise sections that contain the charm.
‘Within Thrall’, a clear standout, draws on a prominent Scandinavian influence, while closer ‘Aphonos’ is the sign off on an album unwavering yet comprehensively grim.
This is an eclectic and expansive album for Leviathan….and that’s a welcome statement.
If you’re intimidated, good. Heavy music should have an element of danger and, in specific instances, a blurring of the line between reality and art. ‘Scar Sighted’ is challenging and requires a commitment from the listener. It beats you down, but cares little to pick you straight back up. This is an album worthy of regard; just don’t expect the sun to seem so bright afterwards.
2. The Smoke of their Torment
3. Dawn Vibration
4. Gardens of Corprolite
5. Wicked Fields of Calm
6. Within Thrall
7. A Veil Is Lifted
8. Scar Sighted
9. All Tongues Toward