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Where solo act Leviathan has found success in the past in densely harrowing, vulgar, and paradoxically beautiful efforts, he seems to over look it with his latest release True Traitor, True Whore. Personal impetus aside, the album appears to be a connect the dots effort in order to make an overall homogeneous, digestible, and painfully overproduced work that leaves a die-hard like me disappointed.
Much to blame is the production, not only in sound and style, but in the sheer amount of effects and things at hand for Wrest to over complicate and distract with. Right from the beginning there is this laughable gibberish which goes into a great curve ball riff that's then torn apart by a very violent and thrashing riff. I get it, he wants to play with the listener's expectations and contradict whatever might be pleasant and melodic sounding with violent and unsettling sounds; but it's just so forced sounding. This works well on some tracks, "Her Circle is the Noose" and "Blood Red and True", but for the most part, every song seems to follow the same idea and strains my interest.
The album is a strange form of retrogression as it borrows not only previously used ideas and tropes from Leviathan's back catalog, but also previous songs ("Shed this Skin" and "Blood Red and True"). The variance between tracks themselves is little, if any. They all jump from typical black metal sections to overproduced hazes of effects and creepy effects, in some way, shape, or form. Previous efforts had such strong writing chops and attention to structure, in that sense, True Traitor, True Whore feels much more like a pop album, where each track was conceived on its own and only the production with a vague agenda to keep them together.
While Wrest deserves the attention he's got for this record, I think it would've been more appropriate some five years ago. Sheer talent and good ideas don't save Leviathan from this overproduced (literal) nightmare of an album that lacks the atmospheric brilliance of prior releases and pushes the envelope of digestible dissonance black metal to another level. The simple, ending track "Blood Red and True" manages to build upon a simple, plodding riff which shows Wrest's talent for not only creating dense and creepy songs, but also something rhythmic and hypnotic.
Will I buy it? Probably on vinyl, because as both a fan and a collector, it has been Leviathan that first spurred me to collect records. Will I listen to it? Doubtful.
Originally Written for http://perpetualstrifemusic.blogspot.com/