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Album Of The Month June 2008
Leviathan | ‘Massive Conspiracy Against All Life’

When it comes down to it, the one man Black Metal project is both a much loved and maligned entity.

What the sole creative individual behind the music avoids in terms of reliance on band members who may dilute the creative vision of high quality miotal dubh is often traded off for a less adept technical aspect (especially on drums), or an insistence on sound quality that’s hissier than a pissed off snake as a replacement for proper atmosphere in the composition.

More often than not, the end result is simply uninspiring repetition of the mood that was already perfected on Filosofem, which while enjoyable, can become somewhat grating when repeated ad nauseam.

Thankfully, Leviathan’s Wrest has once again shown everyone just how ambitious and expansive one man with a mission can be, while still retaining that spirit of imperious spite that defines all excellent Black Metal.

Delayed by over a year due to some unpleasant sounding legal wrangling at the Moribund Cult label, suggestions are already rife that this may be the last of Leviathan’s releases for the foreseeable future.

Things pick up from where the last full length ‘Tentacles of Whorror’ left off, a swamp of boiling noise on the first track, the typically named ‘Vesture Dipped in the Blood of the Morning’ quickly resolves itself into a rampaging, dissonant passage and that suffocating, ghostly strangle of a voice begins to spit venom.

As with previous releases, the drumming comes across as being especially accomplished, mixing in perfectly with the ambient sections of crumbling riffs and echoing repose.

Generally, the entire album seems to be reaching for, and firmly achieving, something more sprawling and complete than previous releases.

The vision and dark skill of Deathspell Omega’s towering ‘Si Monumentum…’ release is invoked many times throughout the album.

The riffs jump from jarringly concise and sharp to passages of sweeping tremolo that rise and fall with the prevailing tone of the ever present ambience.

Ten minute monster ‘Merge with Sword onto Them’ demonstrates this in a most impressive way, the sheer movement of swift change being so effortless as to demand repeat listens almost straight away.

As usual with Leviathan, an element of almost redemptive sounding choral noise is almost audible under the attack, but this slips away almost as soon as it’s noticed – never jeopardizing the malignant atmosphere.

The album develops new limbs and capacities as it progresses, with ‘Receive the World’ being built around a raw, repetitive riff that most Black Thrash bands would give their right eyes for.

‘Vulgar Asceticism’ confidently plays with the sort of demented passage that Blut Aus Nord pumped out so confidently during their ‘The Work Which Transforms God’ period.

The closing track is a final blazing highlight, building up over 6 minutes of martial, brooding ambience before literally stomping on the listener in the album’s death throes with a guitar sequence of pure midnight brilliance.

Detractors may point to the vast amount of splits and earlier material that Leviathan has put out and claim that his definitive work lies somewhere amongst those many releases, but the truth is that the project has never sounded so full and capable before.

An absorbing and powerful album, ‘Massive Conspiracy Against All Life’ carries on the tradition in a fine way.

4.4 / 5 – Lorcan Archer ::: 08/06/08

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