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Quintessential Leviathan - 95%

WinterBliss, December 31st, 2008

First and foremost, I'm willing to bypass the Xasthur side completely during this review simply because this is one of Leviathan's best efforts. For fairness' sake I'll give my views for Xasthur's output on this recording. I'll skip the whole "two of America's most prolific black metal bands on one recording!? must buy!" thing and go onto the quality.

As with most of Xasthur's work, it's a love/hate thing for me. Instantly the awkward keyboards start off Xasthur's side; not a good beginning. The keyboards thin out to a more sensible melody as the track goes on, which doesn't save it from the lack of interesting riffs, or anything interesting for that matter. Problems like this, along with the obviously fake drums really hinder Xasthur and his genuine skill at writing bleak, transcending black metal. It's a shame to pair him with Leviathan on this release because he looks completely amateur. Now, now, there are saving graces for Malefic in this recording, one of them being "Conjuration Of Terror" thankfully Malefic decides to not clean pick his way through the whole goddamn song and actually uses a really cool riff. Good song overall and a nice midsection that builds back up. The Instrumental isn't that bad, in fact it's pretty good; I love the idea of Wrest playing drums for Xasthur. I've never really given Xasthur's side a full listen, and breezing through again I can see why. This is pretty bad for Xasthur, his most cliché crap,this is what makes people dislike the band. The songs are walls of distortion, howls and screams, stupid clean picked guitar notes and programmed drums. I consider myself a fan of Xasthur, but this ain't too hot.

Now, where the heart is. Leviathan brings what you've come to love and enjoy, only on a much grander scale. The two tracks included are both amazing and flawless, and without a doubt are some of Wrest's most inspired and moving works. Unfailing Fall Into Naught beings with an eerie ambiance that is broken by a great slow riff and ethereal keyboard accompaniment. The song is a mid-paced dirge which alternates around three riffs or so which are all quite captivating. Wrest's vocals are good as ever and the track ends with one of the better ambiance sections for a good three minutes. It's a simple, but enthralling song, chock full o' atmosphere.

The second song begins with a mighty howl and that nice 4th notes on the high-hat and constant double bass feel. A strong riff and ethereal keys carry onto the next riff and from there it's magic. I'm not going to bother with a play by play, but this song is one of the more moving and powerful Leviathan songs. The guitar builds and builds, almost until you can't imagine it getting any higher and then, like the bleak music that it is, it simply dissolves into a somber, strangely blissful sea of distortion.

Wrest completely carries this release. Long, powerful, and atmospheric as hell is the best way to describe each song. Each song speaks a multitude, more than some of his other whole releases.

Along with the three full lengths, the Speed of Darkness, the Crebin split, Portrait in Scars, and The Blind Wound, the Xasthur split is essential listening and should not be missed.