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Here we have a collaboration between U.S ambient black metal mastermind Wrest and his project Leviathan and what seems like a pretty under-the-radar band, Acherontas, of Greece. Being a huge Leviathan fan, this release came out of no where and was very surprising to hear about. Judging by Leviathan's popularity amongst vinyl collectors, the label behind the split, Zyklon-B, realized this and charges an absurd amount of money (25euros for the regular LP, and I think I heard around 45 euros for the special edition which contains an extra 7" of material). Needless to say it comes off a shameless cash in on the label's part, not to mention they're the only distributor (at the time i was looking to purchase it at least).
Eagerly awaiting new Leviathan material I poured over this release for a day or two, but grew tried shortly after, feeling Wrest's offerings to be a bit uninspired. Judging by what I am 99% sure are the electronic drums of the past, and the style/production this sounds like something older, something pre-Massive... I hypothesize that these were some leftover tracks Wrest had sitting around and either sent them over to Zyklon-B as something he feels he ought to release, or this material was already in Zyklon-B's care and they decided to release it now. Enough theories for now...
Leviathan's tracks are quite descriptive of his style. "Tentacle Over Tentacle" showcases an ambient/neo-folk intro much like that of "A Silhouette In Splinters" then divulges into a repetitive, familiar and what sounds like rehashed riff that goes on for way too long. "Secret Skulls" is a more aggressive offering and quite heavy, but overall not too interesting. The first two tracks are the only reason to bother with Leviathan's side to be honest. "Crusted, Blackened" quickly goes into an excellent melodic/catchy riff and mid-tempo blast beat; Wrest's bread and butter. The song has some great parts, but unfortunately hits a slow kind of ambient drawl that disperses the power of the aforementioned riffs. "To A Grotesque of Swollen Flesh" begins with a cool bit of feedback before cutting into a vicious and evil sounding tremolo picked riff. The momentum of the song is castrated by a pointless, but not too glaring, acoustic section, but then jumps back to a different great riff and then a really cool lead that's very catchy and pleasant sounding. Both of the good tracks have their little hindrances, but are great nonetheless. I was very close to ordering this LP, for around 50USD, I would say I'm happy I didn't order it.
Completely overshadowed (in terms of popularity) by Leviathan, Acherontas offers a very competent side to this split. Beginning with a nice piano intro, Acherontas dives into a distant sounding, but cool riff. The production is very murky sounding, but nothing (except the bass) suffers from it. "Velvet Aurora" is a nice track, not much to say about it. Contrary to the track before it, "Kornugia" is a very powerful and excellent song. The song contains typical, but catchy and nice riffs interjected in between little "trippy" clean picked sections which work quite well. The last song acts as an outro and picks up where the intro left off. Acherontas displays a lot of potential, and while they're pretty conventional they do it well and it contains their own little touch. Acherontas' side shapes up pretty well, and as a whole outdoes Leviathan which I found quite surprising. I could do without the clean vocals/pseudo-clean vocals though.
While Acgerontas are quite good, their side comes off as forgettable, whereas Leviathan has a way of ingraining itself in your mind. Being the fanboy that I am, I had very high expectations, while not stellar, this release is still enjoyable and showcases Leviathan quite well. By no means worth 50usd, not even 20, but a good release nonetheless.