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A different face of Leviathan - 87%

opprobrium_9, September 14th, 2006

Well to begin with there is the strong side of this split, and the very weak futility of the other. The Iuvenes side is very inappropriate coupled with Wrest's brilliance. For me, I don't know why Iuvenes was chosen to compliment Wrest. However, all personal queries aside, this split minus Iuvenes was great. I am not even taking Iuvenes into account here, because all they did was muddy up this split. If I had to be grading with both bands in mind, the entire split would be rated at 50-68%. Iuvenes' side is rated for me at about a 9 for being music: There were varying production levels on each Iuvenes track, all poor I might add. There was little musical competence, and everything was Bathory worship to the core, even the vocals resembled Quorthon, to an uncanny effect. That said, there is really no reason to buy this album based on Iuvenes, I would recommend steering clear of the songs they present here. Leviathan is much more worth your time.

Now on to "The Speed of Darkness" EP, as that is the only side that matters here. This release was a highly atmospheric one for Wrest, surprisingly so, in fact. Much more than his usual atmospheric approach, Wrest has fully articulated his pain and suffering into this release as he has done on no other. You can almost see the sorrow dripping down, under, and through whatever medium is in one's head. Wrest, playing "Suicidal Black Metal," I think has conquered the foremost of the emotions which this sub-genre entails on this EP.

This is not Wrest's most musically brilliant work, nor is it his most innovative. However, it seems to me, to be his most emotional work. There is something to be said for letting your emotions run ramped; Wrest seems to have done this on "The Speed of Darkness." He traded up his usual innovative songwriting for more emotion and less complexity. This is not to say that the music is not competent, on the contrary it is amazing. I must say, however, that it will take some time to fit into his release roster, as the music is of a much different atmosphere than other Leviathan releases.

The riffs are more simplistic than the usual Leviathan riffs, but this is not uniformity throughout. There is the other side of this EP, the other side of the riffage (including drumbeats). This other side is where you will see Wrest's brilliance shine. What I am talking about is Wrest's imitation of simplicity in what can be identified as complicated riffs. Wrest will, in some parts of the release, use minimalism to paint a visage of simplicity, through layering complimenting riffs over the minimal chord progressions. This makes it seem simplistic in its repetition, however, it is actually more sophisticated for being multifaceted. Also, Wrest includes some very intricate drum patterns, which sometimes only last for a few measures, but he uses them to support the minimalist guitar. Overall the songwriting, while not living up to other Leviathan releases, is still classic Wrest brilliance and ingenuity.

One other factor, is the vocals, OOO the vocals. This is the first thing that caught my attention when listening to this. They are so very extreme, more so that Wrest's usual performance. Anyone who knows Leviathan, knows that Wrest uses a variety of vocal techniques throughout his songs. On this release, however, he uses a very similar vocal aesthetic throughout, and that is one of the reasons that sets this apart from Wrest's other works, and also what makes this release so much more emotional. The vocals sound like a less extreme version of Nattramn from Silencer (SWE), and somewhat like Meyhna'ch's vocals just with heavy distortion and reverb. The vocals are definitely a highlight of this release.

THE PRODUCTION: This is something that was a little bothersome about this EP. The production standards are much lower than on other Leviathan releases. The drums aren't as audible as usual, and this hurts and helps the EP, strangely. This hurts the album because of the obvious inaudibility, but helps it in the album's mood. The slightly under produced drums make the music more esoteric, and are thusly more accessible to one's emotions, rather than one's intellect (as most Leviathan albums affect).

This is a very good, not to mention unique, release for Wrest, but he still maintains his tag in the scene with this album. This is a good release, but if you are just getting into Leviathan I would recommend that you start with "10th sub-level...", "Tentacles...", or the split with Sapthuran. This is for diehard Wrest fans; I don't think you would be able to appreciate this at first glance. "The Speed of Darkness" gets an 87 all around, definitely pick this up and skip Iuvenes.