F U L L . R E V I E W S


Xasthur/Leviathan - Split CD - 2005 - Battle Kommand Records

Track Listing
1. The Eerie Bliss and Torture (of Solitude)
2. Keeper of Sharpened Blades (And Ominous Fates)
3. Conjuration of Terror
4. Instrumental
5. Achieve Emptiness
6. Telepathic With The Deceased (Rehearsal 11/04)
7. Palace of Frost (Katanonia Cover)
8. Unfailing Fall Into Naught
9. The Remotest Cipher (Beside The Last Breath Banished)
10. Where Winter Beats Incessant (Judas Iscariot Cover)
Xasthur, Leviathan. Two of the most well known American black metal acts today joined forces for the first (and thus far, the only) time to release this split back in 2004. Its distribution was severely limited, leaving it largely unheard until this past year when Battle Kommand Records so kindly repressed it, likely in an effort to promote their other Leviathan split with Sapthuran (which comes highly recommended, by the by). As incentive to re-purchase, for those who were lucky enough to acquire this split the first time around, both artists have included additional material: Xasthur adds three, including a Katatonia cover, while Leviathan covers Judas Iscariot.

Xasthur leads off, plodding through each song (with the exception of the Katatonia cover, ĎPalace of Frostí) with ambiguity and sloth. At times throughout his discography, Maleficís work possesses a strong and consuming aura, but this collection does not convey that same sense of utter defeat and self-loathing. The requisite mid-tempo drums, perpetual riff repetition, and the distant roar of his screams muffled nearly to a whisper are all here, but they often lack conviction. Thus, each song becomes more a technical study of form (which, for black metal, is never a good thing) than an emotionally draining marathon.

Xasthur is a concept that, at its best, undermines its audience through a growing sense of unease and overwhelming weakness. However, without a strong sense of flow (both within the song itself and also from one to the next) and a cohesive nature, Xasthurís effort comes across as hasty and unfulfilled.

The bonus tracks, though, offer a respite from monotony and are more convincing. Not surprising, considering that one of them is an old rehearsal and another a cover. Overall, surprisingly pedestrian.

Leviathan is next, with three tracks totally over 30 minutes. Unhindered by the conventions of full-length albums, Wrest has been extremely busy in the past two years, releasing a number of splits and EPís, with this work being one of the first in this new cycle. Those who have heard the aforementioned Leviathan/Sapthuran split, be forewarned. The simultaneous release date of these two is misleading, and those expecting them to sound very similar will be surprised. Wrest is still Wrest, of course, but his work on this split was recorded two years ago, and is therefore not as challenging and experimental as his most recent works. Perhaps as a precursor to his more lyrical Lurker of Chalice release that came in 2005, Wrest turned Leviathan towards contemplation rather than brutal catharsis, resulting in lethargic melodies that wallow for a time and eventually sink into the cradling arms of ambience. The two original tracks move away from the rock Ďní roll riffing Leviathan has become known for, and his signature, embittered dissonance is far subdued. Bolstered by synthesized strings and a strong dose of his reverb-heavy clean guitar, Leviathan follows here a nearly post-rock, soundscape (i.e. Pelican, Isis, etc.) structure, slowly swelling to an atmospheric and emotionally revealing peak before gently subsiding again.

As conspicuously absent from the spotlight as Wrest is, his music is always bare and unfettered, which is perhaps his strongest asset. For those skeptical of the fanfare surrounding Leviathan, and for those who think him unoriginal, this could be an excellent starting point, as it more fully exhibits Wrestís appealing and sophisticated ear for art and expression. Beautiful.



--Etiam 10.12.06

Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: XASTHUR/LEVIATHAN
CD
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DOR
REVIEWER DATE
Split CDXasthur/Leviathan
2005
Etiam10/13/2006


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