One of the US’s bigger black metal exports, Leviathan’s status has been in question for many years now, sole protagonist Jeff ‘Wrest’ Whitehead being dogged by personal and legal problems and even suggesting his work within this musical entity was done.
Coming three and a half years after the compelling if inessential True Traitor, True Whore, Scar Sighted is a remarkable return and a record whose consistency in quality sits at odds, not only with what might reasonably have been expected from Wrest, but also the album’s fractured and challenging approach to songwriting.
A world away from the dense and impenetrable leanings that have traditionally invited Xasthur comparisons, opener The Smoke Of Their Torment actually sounds more like the barbarity of Archgoat than ambient black metal. Two songs later Wrest is alternating between nightmarish dissonance and jarring percussive signatures and sparse sonic landscapes, before throwing in a touch of groove.
A solid yet unpolished production holds all the madness together. It’s not always easy listening, but the vision and sense of journey make this a compelling listen./o:p