Scar Sighted: A Leviathan Effort

Max Jonas Knaver, Writer

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Stream the full album below via Spotify.

It’s no coincidence that black metal has a longstanding association with one-man acts, duos, and studio-only artists. Much of the thematic ideology that has permeated the genre since day one causes it, as a style, to be associated with darkness, isolation and the ìleft hand pathî. Black metal has always been about rebellion and reveling in things society eschews, which is arguably embodied by nothing better than an artist who genuinely rejects society and human companionship in favor of their inner darkness and the expression thereof through music. To paraphrase Jeff Whitehead, also known as Wrest of the studio act Leviathan, there is a certain honesty that comes from a loner screaming and playing guitar totally alone.

Whitehead has been playing all the instruments in Leviathan since day one, deliberately giving himself total creative control in the interest of producing unrelentingly intense music that properly expresses the isolation and negativity that has preoccupied his life.

His latest release under the moniker of Wrest/Leviathan, Scar Sighted, while difficult to get into, is a testament to how black metal as a medium, when combined with the total creative control of a talented individual, can convey emotional darkness. This is well and truly an album that takes multiple spins to properly digest. While at first the sudden shifts in style and tempo, as well as the large amount of what sounds like sampling of works of spoken word, make the record seem disjointed and inconsistent, it becomes apparent through repeated and careful listening that Wrest is a very deliberate composer. Every change in tone, speed, and instrumentation is meant to build an atmosphere of almost oppressive negativity, and once the listener has embraced said atmosphere, it is both gripping and compelling.

This is not an album that can reasonably be nitpicked, and must be analyzed broadly, and this is the way it holds up best. Individual song structures almost universally have a smooth flow, growing and developing as they play out, creating whole works greater than any individual section within them, and in a grand sense the album itself has a discernible structure. Songs become longer, darker, and more intense as Scar Sighted plays, and by the end the listener is left genuinely distraught.

Lyrically, the usual Leviathan style and theme shine through. There is apparent and purposeful flow and eloquence in the lyrics, which creates a stark dichotomy with Scar Sighted‘s themes. Again, the execution seems disarming and slightly unconventional, but it is easy to become accustomed to and eventually becomes more effective than any alternative style.

After all, Leviathan is composed and performed from the ground up by Jeff Whitehead, and anything other than his own style would only be a disservice to the music of Scar Sighted. At the end of the day, he is giving to his audience a window into his own life and troubles. Sharing something like this with a complete stranger needs the right medium, and a one-man black metal band has proved, in Whitehead’s case, to be just that.

 

Join us next week for a review of Psycroptic’s new eponymous album.

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Scar Sighted: A Leviathan Effort