Leviathan - The Blind Wound (Southern Lord LP)

Remember in the old days when you wanted to hear one side of a certain artist's split release but didn't really care so much about hearing the other? Well now you don't have to worry anymore! "The Blind Wound" is (stop me if you've heard this before) not the new Leviathan record, but actually Wrest's stand-alone side from his split with Sapthuran, which came out earlier last year on Battle Kommand. Not that I have anything against Sapthuran - in fact I don't think I've ever heard Sapthuran - but I did hear some negativity about him from someone who had heard his part of the split. Dig? At least, I think that's what I heard. Maybe the person actually didn't like Leviathan's side. Whatever. Call me unadventurous. But when it comes to Southern Lord bands, you know if you wait long enough they'll put out an edition of an already-released album that you actually want to own, so I figgered the time was right to buy. Also it has one of the slickest (and unintentionally comical) packaging jobs a Leviathan album has ever been treated to. The cover features an incredible painting by Wrest and, you can't tell from the pic, but has the Leviathan logo embossed glossy style on the front and the same can be said for the tracklist on the back. But the actual coloring job on the vinyl was botched and instead of being a red/green swirl, it's split half-red and half-green (actually why not take a look here). The humor involved stems from the album being released on December 7th, during the traditional Christmas crunch, so this look created here is what you'd expect from a Leviathan Christmas Album, were it to ever exist. Classic! Well I guess with all that colored vinyl flying about these days, you knew a botch-up like this couldn't be far behind. Anyway, I thought it was funny...so uh, shut up.
The material here is kinda spread thin, since it's essentially half an album occupying two sides of a long player, but you get what you pay for. First side is devoted to two tracks, the second to two plus an outro. "Odious Convulsions (They Are Not Worthy of His Name)" is branded with a nasty, twisting intro that segues into an earful of sick, slicing riffs that totally dominate the (live!) drumming and Wrest's scarcely-audible tortured howls. Totally ruthless and fuzzier than a 1940's car crash. The track takes a weird and unexpected detour into post-punk or gothic rhythm before being broken up again with static bolts of harsh guitar buzz. I knew Leviathan had it in him since he covered June of 44 once upon a day, but this swerve came out of nowhere and ruled me. The other track on the first side "The Fourth Blind Wound" is more the "suicidal" black metal type you'd expect from Leviathan - full-on endless teeth-breaking riff beat down leading into droning mega-nod rites a la "Dunkelheit" which is something special to be compared to since it's the best black metal opus ever written. But it's just as 'eavy.
Second side is a double dose of BM minimalism. "Another Sip of Fear" is another blast of furious, guitar-riddled waste set to the tune of one pounding bass drum endlessly burrowing into your skull, aided and abetted by Wrest screaming like a mutant daemon strangled half to death. It's a beautiful thing in an Elephant Man kind of way, trust me. "Crushing the Prolapsed Oviducts of Virtue" (say word) is of the same malevolent spirit, the entire cut engulfed in a firestorm of stomping, blackened riffs all jagged and war-torn. The non-lyrics just add to the suffocating bleak miasma obfuscating the whole affair. Totally rad and probably one of the best "short-form" (e.g. not 9-10 minute) Leviathan tracks I've heard. Side and album close with "Mesmerism", a brief outro that sounds like Ministry and Suicide 78s rotting in a junkyard. Also makes a great soundtrack to watching House of Carters. So...there's that.
Of course if you've already got the original split, this release is fairly useless unless you're some sort of Leviathan completist, in which case I pity your eBay-raped soul. I might even recommend it over the actual split since I just came across two user-contributed reviews on the Metal Archives website that aren't too kind to Sapthuran's side (and I quote: "The unfortunate thing about this cd is that Sapthuran has a few tracks on it" - well okay then!). In any event if you're foaming at the mouth awaiting the next REAL Leviathan full-length, "Massive Conspiracy Against All Life", "The Blind Wound" would do well to tide you over. Even if it's little more than 25 minutes in length, repeated listens are deserved here.


Anonymous Cory Strand said...

i'm a huge fan of Leviathan, and yes indeed Wrest's material on this split is some of his finest, but i think people are being pretty damn unfair to Sapthuran. His side of the split was good too and show major improvement and maturtity in comparison to his two previous albums (although i though "to the edge of the land" was pretty damn rockin'). i think that even among BM fans who are buying LEviathan stuff, you're still getting a lot of close- minded morons who don't what the hell they're really listening to it for. And unless you're a towering figure in the BM community (ala Xasthur), doing a split with Leviathan is going to hurt you more than help you. so check the Sapthuran stuff out-it's definetely in the drone/repetitious vein and employs lots of ragged acoustic guitar/classical interludes. And i have to say this-Southern Lord is really pissing me off with all these stupid re-releases. with the money they spent putting out "the blind wound" they could just as easily have put out a NEW Leviathan EP on vinyl-we all know Wrest records almost endlessly. it seems that as far as BM is concerned all Souther Lord really does is reissue shit. it's sick cashing in and it's a slap in the face to the folks who spend time tracking down the record in the first place. it's reaching Boris-esque levels of ridiculousness.

2/15/2007 1:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool dude, thanks for the input. Maybe I will check out the Sapthuran stuff - Metal Archives reviews are the last thing from what I'd consider gospel.

I agree with you about SL largely scooping up Battle Kommand or Moribund Cult releases and reissuing them for their own benefit or for their rabid fanbase that think Xasthur and Leviathan invented black metal. But the stand-alone split idea seems to be Wrest's as he did it before with his side of another split, released as "The Speed of Darkness" on Viva Hate. Hey, if people are going to buy it, then more power (and more money?) to him.

I don't think it's quite at the level of Boris just yet - at least these Leviathan reissues don't have bonus tracks.

-Matt (blogger won't let me sign in to my actual account at the moment)

2/15/2007 9:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You make the black metal christmas joke without ONE mention of the frost bitten forests of Norway?

2/15/2007 4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Came across this review, good job. That vinyl looks absolutely fucking sick.

The Sapthuran part of the split is decent at best. No way can they (he) stand up to the mighty Wrest and his monster, Leviathan. I can't even imagine how "Massive Conspiracy Against All Life" is going to turn out.

4/10/2007 5:06 AM  
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