(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Leviathan.)
Let’s address the corpse-painted elephant in the room right away, shall we?
No, not that one… this one. You see, I consider this album my first real exposure to Leviathan. Oh I’ve heard the music before now, in different ways and at different times, but Scar Sighted is the first time I’ve ever sat down and really listened.
And what an album it is. Marrying its frostbitten spite and blackened vitriol to a more forward-thinking, dare I say progressive, ambition, it takes a melding of the old and the new and beats them black and blue until the necessary sonic form is achieved, bearing both its borrowed influences and its harrowing inspiration with unashamed pride.
It’s vicious, it’s tormented, it’s utterly uncompromising and… in its own way… horribly beautiful.
Whether it’s the bone-grinding dissonance and chaotic chords of “The Smoke of their Torment”, the abyssal atmospherics and whispering melodies of “Wicked Fields of Calm”, or the droning, hypnotic gnosis of “A Veil is Lifted”, Scar Sighted seems intent on exploring every painful nook and cranny of the human experience and dragging its audience kicking and screaming into the depths.
Pregnant with buzzing, diseased riffs that spurt and flow like ichor from severed veins, songs like the tormented “Dawn Vibration” and the acid-rain assault of “Within Thrall” are a downward spiral of sickness and self-loathing sprayed across a flesh-torn canvas of musical depravity, while “Gardens of Coprolite”, “All Tongues Toward”, and the titanic, ten-minute title track coat every sinewy guitar line and soiled melody in an aura of filthy, misanthropic ambience, wallowing in the blood and bile and seminal discharge that makes up our savage yet oh-so-precious humanity.
Black Metal these days is a many-headed beast indeed, its various weird and wonderful forms allowing for a multitude of interpretations and approaches. And this can, in some ways, make it problematic to pick out the most vital and indispensable entries in the canon.
Yet I have few, if any, reservations in declaring Scar Sighted an absolute masterpiece and an essential part of any Black Metal fanatic’s collection.
It’s fearlessly creative, brutally, unflinchingly honest in its hatred, and provides a near-perfect exemplar of what can be done within the genre. It’s artistic and angst-ridden, yet not pretentiously so, with no self-satisfied manifesto or posturing self-promotion to overshadow the pure emotion and artistry of the music itself.
It’s an ugly, unpleasant listening experience in many ways, dripping with malice and cold-eyed menace, and yet utterly compelling in all its scarred and wounded beauty.
Scar Sighted is out now on CD and digitally via Profound Lore. The album will be released on vinyl this summer by Devout Records; Wrest is selling the 11 paintings he created to accompany the album to help finance the pressing, and those can be seen and ordered via the last link below.