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Leviathan/Sapthuran: Leviathan/Sapthuran

Both Leviathan and Sapthuran are respected names among black metal circles in the States, having released two studio albums and some split releases and EP's. Also, both bands are one-man projects where every instrument and vocals are handled by themselves. This is Sapthuran's first attempt at contributing to a split release while Leviathan has previously collaborated with many others including Xasthur.

The first three songs on this split are by Sapthuran and they are completely different from the work of Leviathan. Sapthuran's Patrick Hall opts for a more primal, monolithic and basic style of black metal, which could be likened to that of Darkthrone due to its impossibly raw production. That said, I also hear some Judas Iscariot influence, particularly on the first track "As a Tale Told by the Leaves and Whispered by the Wind", defined by eerie wind effects, raw guitar sounds, and repetitive, drone-like arrangmenents. The vocals are thick and low, far from the screeching black metal shrieks. Some cool guitar harmonies and subtle keyboards are employed for extra texture towards the end and the nine-plus-minute song goes by before know it. On track two, "And Autumn Sheds Its Final Tear", Sapthuran paints a bleak picture of a cold winter night in Scandinavia. Again, there is a good dose of wind effects and folky acoustic guitars that slightly recall Ulver's Kveldssanger and some of the work by Agalloch. This is a peaceful instrumental track before Sapthuran returns to his primitive, mid-paced black metal statement in the form of "Wanderer: Blood in the Forest", except that he injects more melody into this piece with more varied guitar and drum addition. The production is very muddy, making the song almost impossible to grasp upon first listen. However, once you get into it, the epic-size tremelo picking at the end might become your favourite moment on this disc.

The Leviathan songs have better production. The guitars and drums (which are not electronic as on some of their earlier work) are clear and even crisp, especially when compared to Sapthuran. Also, unlike Sapthuran, Leviathan's songs lack any form of structure, as they wander from segment to segment, touching on the most primal and pure forms of US black metal and blending it with weird guitar and synth effects. "Odious Convulsions (They Are Not Worthy of His Name)" is chock full of fierce tremelo picking, tribal drumming, and some weirdly amplified digital screeching sounds. There is even a nice bass solo here. "Fourth Blind Wound" is more melodic but the vocals sound more painful to balance it out. The song is intertwined with a shimmering keyboard patch at the end that brings in more dimension to its evocative flow. "Another Sip of Fear" and "Crushing the Prolapsed Oviducts of Virtue" are among Leviathan's most experimental works, as they weave big, processed vocals and eerie guitar tones atop strange industrial-like beats. The echoic vocals on the latter are especially interesting, given the confines of black metal. The split ends with the brief instrumental "Mesmerism", which is a thick soundscape filled with unusual drum rhythms and warm keyboard melodies.

Even though I was familiar with Leviathan, I had never heard of Sapthuran before, and this split release makes me want to track down their full studio albums.

Track Listing

  1. As a Tale Told by the Leaves and Whispered by the Wind
  2. And Autumn Sheds Its Final Tear
  3. Wanderer: Blood in the Forest
  4. Odious Convulsions (They Are Not Worthy of His Name)
  5. Fourth Blind Wound
  6. Another Sip of Fear
  7. Crushing the Prolapsed Oviducts of Virtue
  8. Mesmerism

Added: August 20th 2006
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: Battle Kommand
Hits: 3186
Language: english

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