Leviathan - The Speed of Darkness (Viva Hate Records LP)
The very first release on the fledgling Viva Hate Records, and it's a doozy. It may not be the new Leviathan album, but any chance I get to hear Wrest on wax, I take it. "The Speed of Darkness" is actually Leviathan's side of a 2003 split with Iuvenes, but since this blog wasn't around back then, let's talk about Wrest bay-bee (let's talk about you and me/let's talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be/let's talk abouuut Wrest). Before I get on to the content I must say this album has some fantastic cover art, even though it didn't originally. The first pressing of this LP (in the spring, which I never ever heard about) saw an atrociously pixellated cover, apparently. The first pressing also came on 150 white vinyl and 400 red vinyl. This second pressing is available on 200 clear vinyl, 466 dark green and an "book edition" of 25 which I know nothing about. My only complaint is that the sleeve is thin and flimsy, kinda like the sleeves on those new Ya Ho Wa 13 reissues which is a bummer. But it's their first release so how harsh could I possible be?
Since this was originally half an album, it's understandably short - about 22 minutes of music stretched across two sides of vinyl. Side one begins with the quaintly-named "I Miss Watching You Die", a hypnotic and buzzing Burzum riff joined by a deliberately paced rhythm section and vintage unintelligible Wrest snarls. There's a great double bass/"Dunkelheit"-esque keyboard interlude followed shortly by a maniacally angry freakout. "Pondering the Wealth of the Stars" is a crude and washed-out gallop notable for a particularly deranged vocal exhibition by Wrest, hinting at either deep mourning or at least severe psychosis. Latter half of the track falls in a surprisingly "rock" territory instrument-wise. The side closing "Fossils of Hope" is a succinct number, raging and relentless and about as true a headbanger's ball as you're ever going to get from Leviathan.
"S.W.O.L." commences the second side in explosive fashion. Industial clangs, noise, black metal and hellish screams collide and pull apart conjuring up an impressively dark din. The last cut is "Your Army Awaits" which features more bludgeoning drumming and inhuman vocal terrors. There's a bit of a haunting/ed keyboard ditty in the middle of the track and again as the song's coda, painting a dramatic coat all over the song and subsequently the album.
If you were already hip back in 2003 and scored this material when it was originally released on the Iuvenes split, you probably won't find much interest in owning it again unless you're a true diehard. But if you missed out and were only going to get it just to hear Leviathan's side, well that's where this record comes in handy. The Viva Hate Records website hints at a potential third pressing once the current stock runs low, so you should have enough time to save up your allowance and do some splurging while you wait for Wrest's third long-playing opus, due eventually on Moribund Cult.