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Leviathan never seems to dissapoint, and this cd is a perfect shining example of that statement. The unfortunate thing about this cd is that Sapthuran has a few tracks on it - this being the reason I rated the cd a 75 (if it was only Leviathan it would diserve much higher). I'll start from the beginning. Sapthuran has three very boring, minimalistic tracks of generic, mid-paced black metal. Nothing to see here. The first song kind of makes me think of Earth writing black metal (it's just that boring). To make it even worse the production is fucking terrible, and not in a good way. You just have to turn the cd up really loud. I won't bother detailing the others.
On the bright side, the Leviathan songs are really something to look forward to. Faster than many of the songs on previous records, Wrest chooses to use a real drumset instead of his usual drum machine. The result is that (for one) we hear a lot more cymbal and high end than usual and it gives the songs a much more aggressive feel. The production is terriffic in my opinion, far from overproduced and yet still clear- it almost reminds me of Haemoth but more clear and listenable. Cutting guitars supplement the faster paced drumming which does a fine job keeping tempo. One thing that struck me is that the songs are actually a lot faster than on other releases.
So unfortunatly you can't get just the Leviathan songs, but the cd is worth picking up for the usual brilliance of Wrest.
This is by far the most distinctive split I’ve heard, Sapthuran and Leviathan contributing completely different shades of a blackened art. Yet somehow in the context of one CD, it seems to flow well. Generally speaking, it is a rather melodic release, both acts making use of guitar harmonies, and keyboards on the part of Wrest from Leviathan.
Sapthuran begins the split with eerie gusting wind that gives way to a lonely guitar line with primitively recorded and yet perfect clamoring drums. The vocals are distorted, chanting through the chambers of a cave deep under the surface, chilling and full of a horrifying wisdom. The music takes you very much to the depths of the forest in an ancient time, as darkness and cold are driving the life and warmth from the world and ushering in the autumn months.
The second track consists of mournful acoustic guitars, somewhat in the vein of Ulver, amid a softer wind. Maybe a little more peaceful than the artist would like it to come across as, but still very much in the mood.
The third Sapthuran track is related in sound to the first, though it has a varied guitar part and the drum cymbal crashes stand out to me in a good way. The drums suit this music very well, as do the vocals, the wind, the songs fading in and out. A primeval offering from Sapthuran.
Leviathan takes the throne with an intro whose desired effect, I’m sure, is to promote a sense of itching paranoia leading to something absolutely scarring from which there is no return. A job done well because as a high squealing digital wind rises and, what reminds me of sharp fingernails scraping on skulls, echoes in stereo delay, there is an almost tribal sounding beat of wood on wood which gradually builds momentum. The tension increases immensely until it breaks into full blast-beat and ugly powerful distorted guitars. The drums are deafening compared to previous Leviathan releases because they are the REAL thing, not electronic. The distorted vocals are recognizablely done by Wrest, though they are more guttural and brutal in sound (not electronically transposed to a higher register as is generally normal). The first song is very evil and dissonant, with digital screeching to amplify the effect in certain places. It then breaks down into classic Leviathan drum/bass minimalism with purely hateful gurgling chanting. Concluding with a mid-tempo, very “metal” riff, it fades out with Wrest’s signature clean ambient guitar haunting the soundscape till silence.
The second track does not hesitate to melt the mountains and evaporate the oceans with its immediate bludgeoning. My favorite track being “The Fourth Blind Wound,” it is very melodic and beautiful at the same time filled with agony, abandonment, betrayal and loathing. Part of you is ripped away and is fed to this blackened vortex of energy.
Keyboards interspersed throughout this song add a very important aspect to the song.
Next track is mid-tempo and blast-beat oriented, with the most full sound Leviathan has every produced. Most satisfactory.
“Crushing The Prolapsed Oviducts of Virtue” is intense by all accounts, beginning with an average chunk of quality evil, and then at a certain point, breaking off and launching into a torrent of tortured wailing, so furious and agonized that it blew me away at first. Within this section there are some absolutely beautiful and enchanting riffs (one of the reasons that has made Black Metal so superior to other metal in my opinion) with lulling clean guitar echoing above and below. I would call this a genre-defining/disintegrating song.
A minute-long dreamscape is what “Mesmerism” turns out to be, with drums and atmosphere compressed into a texture that is thick and warm compared with the normal likes of Leviathan. A solitary wail punctuates the emptiness here.
In a word, I am very pleased with this split, and perhaps a little biased on the line-up. Sapthuran and Leviathan play their respective parts, and in a way they are well matched. By no means can they really compare to each other, but together the atmosphere is taken in many different directions, and the aftermath is devastation and wonder. I would say that it would be wise to acquire this while it is available. Enough said.