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Are you kidding me? - 10%

Eyeball, February 24th, 2010

You know, I read some of the reviews on here of these guys and I'm a little suspect of who wrote them. Let me get to the point. This isn't good, it will never be good. Leviathan's Mandible is a band best left as a footnote, being generous. The fact that they're referred to as 'experimental' in their listing is laughable. I didn't know experimental meant lyrics based on outdated 'brutal' ideas with no guitars and a live drummer who can fill fairly well but can't hold a beat to save his life. Pretty sure he's not on this album, not like it matters. Anyway, let me break it down what you'll find in Dead Verses.

First, the most important area, the music. If you're not familiar with them, let me shorten it to two words. Crappy grind. I'll get into it in the next paragraph when I discuss the time issue, but this amounts to generally really short songs that never go anywhere, typical vocals, and typical drums. And of course, no bass, because that's more 'grind' than fleshing out the sound and giving it depth. The quality on this album is downright terrible. It's often difficult to make out any of the guitars because of the low quality, the drums are sometimes indistinct or the cymbals break in and cover over everything, and the vocals have that typical, grind rasping followed by roaring that scream 'pay attention to me my lyrics are brutal and deep' but you don't understand them anyway. He can definitely sing, but it's nothing to get excited over. Just another bunch of roars and screams with some pig squeals for kicks.

Second, the running time. The majority of the songs are under two minutes, some less than one. Some people don't mind this sort of thing, but I do because all the songs sound similar and there's little presence or development. It's guitars, drums, blah singing and then repeat. Wow, talk about experimenting. To me, lots of these bands doing these short, bullshit songs are trying to steer away from the reality that they can't write anything. The only bands I've liked in this vein are those that do it because one, they know they're idiots (such as Gore Beyond Necropsy), or two they're just being funny, which itself isn't easy to pull off. Leviathan's Mandible, however, is serious. If you're going to be serious, how about developing your sound and making it progress over more than thirty to fifty seconds of cheap break downs and vocals that happen so fast you miss them?

Third, presentation. Horrid. Some of these song titles sound like they were written by looking up random words in the dictionary and then adding something that sounded 'grind' or 'brutal'. Check out tracks like 'A Virgin With Stockholm Syndrome'. Do you guys even know what that means? Something tells me you didn't even look it up. What exactly are you getting at? Overall, Dead Verses doesn't appear to have any real direction to it. It's more like 'here's a bunch of songs we've been meaning to lay down and burn onto a CD, let's do that after recording it on a tape player'. And then you have tracks with titles such as 'Effervescence' which make you think of the sweet, brutal fizz of flu medicine. I mean, come on, these are some of the most infantile titles I've ever freaking heard. And the lyrics? Here's a sample: "We'll kick her in the dead [sic], She'll come home dead, Metal destroyers, Have come to take your life." I swear to god that's real shit right there, don't even need to comment. If you want to call your music 'experimental' at least do something original or give the lyrics more depth. Very poor presentation, but the art's okay considering the quality of the recording.

As a whole, Dead Verses is better left off where the adjective so conveniently suggests, dead. I have no clue what the general direction was supposed to be here, the presentation is poorly thought out, if thought out at all, the songs are all way too short, the quality is low, the sound is redundant, the lyrics are terrible, it's just an overall poor release from a band that never seems to get anywhere. After listening to this album, checking out some more of their stuff, and looking at some glamorous reviews and coddling on the internet, now I know why. It only got a 10% from me because it exists, otherwise 0.

Great experimental death/grind; needs love! - 86%

Noktorn, March 12th, 2009

The Leviathan's Mandible is certainly a band which deserves a great deal more attention than they get; whether it's due to a simple lack of promotion or an unwilling scene, I have no idea, but it should certainly be rectified if at all possible. One of the most intensely experimental (in a genuine way) and intense death-influenced grind bands in the metal scene today, they play a style of music that's challenging and unique; certainly features that a majority of grind fans probably aren't typically looking for in their choice of music. The Leviathan's Mandible, though, far from being another band simply loading their music with novelty in order to appear unique, have an active interest in pushing the boundaries of their genre and of themselves, and for this reason deserve the support of all those who truly seek metal and grind to go somewhere it hasn't been.

At first glance, the music on 'Dead Verses' seems simple and maybe even rather thin: composed only of a single guitar, drums, and vocals, the instrumental setup of this music doesn't lend itself towards superbly layered and multifaceted compositions. The Leviathan's Mandible, however, uses the natural functions of grindcore to create something greater from these simple elements. The metallic music on this record is a variety of modern grind both influenced by hardcore and death metal, with an emphasis on quickly changing rhythms and unusual, articulate riffing with an almost daringly straightforward demo-level production job needing no trickery to convince that artistry exists where it does not. Far from being a riff-dominant album, 'Dead Verses' is a release where guitar, drums, and vocals all have unique and crucial roles in the establishment of songs in a way unlike most artists I've heard before.

Riffs on this album are a hodgepodge of modern Nasum-style metallic grind, white-belt modern post-hardcore influences, and the occasional churning, oldschool Napalm Death passage. Sequences of slow and crushing power chords will abruptly turn into a flurry of technical and schizophrenic single-note tremolo picking; few of the passages in these songs are as straightforward as they seem at first glance. A less intensely technical and more oldschool Discordance Axis would be a pretty good frame of reference here: it's not as obsessively artsy and white-belt as that band, but elements of it are certainly there in using the naturally compressed space of grind to its fullest extent. These songs pack a lot of ideas into surprisingly small spaces, and even the sub-minute songs that litter this LP are full of musical ideas that actually go places rather than rotely repeating themselves in an attempt to establish coherence.

Drumwork is alternately binary and elegant in nature, and is mostly voiced in one-foot blast beats and abrupt yet delicate fills, with the occasional twisting rock passage thrown in here and there to spice things up. The structures of these songs are harrowing and constantly changing; massive shifts in tempo and rhythm are common, and the guitar and drums seem in a sort of competition to keep up with each other and provide a balance for the vocals to rest upon. Of those vocals: primarily shrieking and post-hardcore in nature, they're occasionally attacked from the side by deep and guttural Barnesian death growls which add variation to an otherwise static performance. The vocals act as a sort of referee to the guitar and drums, preventing either from usurping the other in a battle for dominance over the music. They perform their function well, acting as a middleman to the instruments while still being given the opportunity to shine on their own.

'Dead Verses' is comprised of numerous brief grind tracks interspersed with periodic 'Verses' of noisy electronics. Not used as simple ambient interludes, these passages serve a very important role of breaking the grind up into more manageable chunks of music as well as standing up on their own as being full-fledged though simple and brief compositions. They provide a constant narrative thread for the album to follow, while being littered with the debris of grind on either side. The album reaches a conclusion of sorts in the title track, where alternating stretches of flickering and gentle post-rock alternate with bursts of extreme metal which are as much Autopsy as Pelican; it's one of the most intricate and developed songs on the album and stands as being a real gem. Blitzing denouement 'The Aftermath' is also a nice touch at the close of the album, functioning as a sort of 'alternate ending' for the story the release tells.

All in all, 'Dead Verses' is an extremely intelligent, articulate, and well-designed album with content that belies its rather plain aesthetic. Fans of modern grind and death metal are highly encouraged to give this release the attention it deserves, and to keep an eye out on The Leviathan's Mandible for future musical developments: they're one of the most promising artists in the grind scene at this time and show hope for a genre that's mostly stagnating under the weight of hipsterism and lack of ambition.