Leviathan – True Traitor, True Whore

I’ve known about Leviathan for a while, as anyone who is into black metal should; but in all honestly, I’m not really familiar with the music. I do know that as the long running solo project of Jef Whitehead, otherwise known as Wrest, Leviathan has presented some of the most influential black metal in the American scene but personally, I’m more familiar with his work with Nachtmystiam and more importantly Twilight.  The last Twilight album, “Monument to End Time” is a masterpiece, partly due to the sompelling drum work by Wrest.  So with his involvement with those projects, along with some of the press I’ve read recently and the fact that “True Traitor, True Whore” is coming to us from Profound Lore (aka. the best and most consistent label around these days), I’ve been pretty excited about this record.

Now before we get started, there is that little issue of Wrest’s arrest and his upcoming court date stemming from accusations that he beat, strangled and raped his girlfriend, charges that he vehemently denies. There has been a lot of talk in the blogs about this over the last several months and many so-called fans have abandoned him and many in the press have vilified him. Personally, I prefer to stand by that ‘ol American adage of innocent until proven guilty and I only bring up the issue because of its bearing on “True Traitor, True Whore.”

As you may have guessed from the title of the album, it was inspired by his recent troubles and Wrest lets loose his rage with all abandonment.  I have seen some question his innocent based on this anger, assuming that someone expressing this level of rage must be capable of those crimes, and while there may be some truth in that, it’s also very likely that someone being falsely accused of such crimes would justly be full of rage. Regardless, it cannot be argued that Wrest has taken his demons and focused them into a cohesive and powerful piece of art.

The press release from Profound Lore calls this album “the most controversial metal album of the year and ultimately, the death blow to what is considered nowadays U.S. black metal.” Now I’m no expert on U.S. Black Metal, or even a good judge of what would be considered controversial, but I do know good music when I hear it and this is most definitely good music!

The music here is heavy and very much rooted in classic Black Metal but the progressive influence is prevalent. With other bands, such as Nachtmystium, the progressive influences have taken a forefront to the Black Metal core, but with Leviathan, the prog influence is there, but it remains an influence and not a new direction. There are moments of post-rock/metal and doom, there are some punk elements and there’s even a little acoustic guitar thrown in there, but at its heart, its remains true black-metal.

As with most black metal bands, the vocals here are used more as an instrument of terror. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to decipher the lyrics and as he has also refused to print the lyrics, the true meaning of the songs may remain lost on the listener, but his anger and emotion is obvious.

The way these songs move from heart wrenching fury into softer, more melancholy passages and back into the rage allows them to convey a sense of absolute anguish and while these may be his own emotions put to music, these songs have the power to grab the listeners soul in way that forces you to confront you own demons. Like all great music, it can truly be a cathartic listen.

This is really an exceptional record.  Where other one-man Black Metal acts have run out of steam after a few releases, Wrest seems to be getting better, which just goes to show just what a talented musician he is. If he is guilty of the crimes he has been charged with, he should be punished…severely, but if he is innocent, I sincerely hope the courts find in his favor, so that we may continue to enjoy his work.

~ by silentium1 on November 4, 2011.

One Response to “Leviathan – True Traitor, True Whore”

  1. I’m not very familiar with the band but seems my kind of music, i will definetely check it out.

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