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Strange and beautiful - 85%

Pratl1971, November 29th, 2011

In terms of United States black metal Wrest is certainly one of the consistent strongholds, quite possibly more resonating and musically attuned than any of his contemporaries. His project of Leviathan has always managed to tap into the darkest and most sinister corners of the brain and soul, especially discomforting on his Tenth Sublevel of Suicide and A Silhouette in Splinters efforts from a few years back. With his latest release True Traitor, True Whore being one of the more anticipated releases to round out the year I admit a certain excitement at what’s currently passing through my ear drums.

The thing to grasp on to during this album’s immediate sinister tone is that Wrest is particularly angry and the frustration and undisguised rage is abundantly evident with no room for shading the obvious. With most Leviathan recordings there is always an element of disdain and ebon filtering through the music, mostly obvious, sometimes not so much; through it all you know precisely the level of volatility and repetitious strife you’re encountering with each note he issues with well-constructed disgust and rancor. This album’s first two tracks in “True Whorror” and “Her Circle is the Noose” pretty much wipe clean any notions that this is the album where Wrest holds back or reins in the rage. It’s not too difficult to explain just how angry this record is in base sentences, but it certainly is a much more tangible entity when consumed with attentive register and a full understanding that what you’re experiencing is something much like Burzum only at a high level not seen since Filosofem.

The unhindered nature of Wrest’s inner torment is hauntingly evident as he slams through “Shed This Skin” as if he himself were physically trying to break free from bonds seen and unseen, laboring through a petulant period of diseased soul and mind. The music is his vehicle past the objected expectation of ‘modern’ black metal and takes on a somewhat more stylish spectral approach, literally offering a capricious view of what motivates him and also what drives him to produce such controlled violence in True Traitor, True Whore. If his Lurker of Chalice side gig was considered tempestuous and corrosive, then this latest Leviathan will cut that dead limb clean off and solemnly suture the edges for a borrowed posterity. For all intents and purposes this record could be construed in many different facets; the one guarantee is that all of it in its segregated forms are pieces of dark poetic eulogy; as a whole it’s a wild embracing of the hate and disgust in all of us that we often bury until forced into a catharsis that shifts the scales and unbalances even the most stringent of minds.

The beauty (or brilliant black serenity) of Wrest’s mind is that he doesn’t hold these ridiculous black metal devices too close to his vest; the music is allowed to rise and fall in occasional spurts of genius and depravity, and which is apparent and which is more elusive is up to personal interpretation. From the very horror dispersing from the chords of “Harlot Rises” into the literal doomy death feel of “Blood Red and True” the complete picture of pain and anger emerges from the dust din of what this record attempts to convey. I would go as far as to ascertain that this is Wrest’s finest hour in terms of total reckless honesty and resignation to his own inner turmoil. What drives the man these days is his business; what he allows us to view in terms of pieces of himself is a generous and often depressing gift.

The long three-year wait was worth the effort; Leviathan is what I consider the reigning U.S. black metal band, even though Wrest seems to have found the astral plane that transcends the obligatory and pierces the very core of essential necessity.

(Originally written for www.metalpsalter.com)