Xasthur / Leviathan - _Split_
(Battle Kommand Records, 2005)
by: T. DePalma (8 out of 10)
Of the numerous and ubiquitous black metal projects emerging from each coast of the wasteland, these fellows clearly have the higher ground. California's barons of black ritual show no signs of slowing down (indeed as you read this, Leviathan has pulled in the lead with several more releases) but if it's not new material being pressed and delivered from either of their ascendant personas, then a redressed and augmented version will have to do. Thus, Battle Kommand Records presents this split for the first time on CD with additional tracks by each band not featured on the original vinyl.

"Misery loves company", said Mephistopheles, and here two voices adequately complement each other's foul perspectives, caught unraveling through spheres of keys and sludgy doom vibrations. Wrest's contribution entails only three tracks, but total nearly thirty minutes pursuing a sturdy, concentrated approach supported by production that breaks the guitar into sleepy grains falling over the drums and bass. With its emphasis on drifting melody, slowly unraveling chords between synthesized string voices, the set may seem dull in comparison to the band's usual aesthetic, but creates an enveloping narrative that only loses momentum in its final moments -- an added cover of Judas Iscariot's "Where the Winter Beats Incessant". However fitting it may be, it remains below the level of force that Xasthur wills to transport through five withering pieces, undoing a string of shoddy work through the last few years with toxic breath and keynotes giving life to glowing orbs of melody.

The over-emotional, suicidal aspect of Malefic's sound, which eventually handicapped the band, is replaced by an otherworldly atmosphere and gothic darkness brought on by more complex composition (akin to ambient sound trackers Shinjuku Thief) and layers of black on black sound. A cover of Katatonia's "Palace of Frost" closes things on a still threatening note with its pendulum swaying riffs, adequately fused with the distressed recording technique and mechanical drum pulses.

The layout for this release is spare and unremarkable, aesthetically inferior to the first LP. However, the doubling of Xasthur's material makes for a worthy repurchase and is highly recommended to all.

Contact: http://www.battlekommand.com

(article published 26/3/2006)


ALBUMS
12/8/2011 J Carbon 8.5 Leviathan - True Traitor, True Whore
2/24/2009 Y Zhu 7 Leviathan - Massive Conspiracy Against All Life
10/14/2006 T DePalma 3 Xasthur - Subliminal Genocide
9/19/2005 T DePalma 8.5 Leviathan - A Silhouette in Splinters
7/31/2004 T DePalma 7.5 Leviathan - Tentacles of Whorror
1/30/2004 M Noll 6.5 Xasthur - The Funeral of Being
11/26/2003 A McKay 3 Leviathan - Leviathan
10/31/2003 A Wee 6.5 Leviathan - The Throne Of Bones
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