Sapthuran - Leviathan - Split
Battle Kommand Records
Black Metal
8 songs (45'40")
Release year: 2006
Battle Kommand Records
Reviewed by Alex
Surprise of the month

I was always wondering whether black metal splits are dictated only by the issue of economics (the costs to put out the release are divided), or there should be some compatibility and synergy between the parties. Do the bands have to complement or contrast each other? Here is the issue to contemplate while I am trying to think how to enter the split release on Metalreviews.

Sapthuran and Leviathan seem to do a little bit of both on the recent Battle Kommand Records split. Both representing the burgeoning USBM school, both being a single man projects – they have similarities. Yet, even though raw black metal is on display with both, there are profound differences between the two, at least in the mind of this reviewer.

Sapthuran is Patrick Hall, a relative newcomer in the world of USBM, but the name that keeps rapidly growing. And deservedly so. On display in this split Sapthuran gives us a taste for three tracks, two of which are similar in approach. As a Tale Told by the Leaves and Whispered by the Wind and The Wanderer: Blood in the Forest offer superficially primitive extremely minimalist bassless metal. However, if you look deeper, behind the façade of seemingly monotonous blastbeat and trebly production, the great depth is uncovered. Sapthuran guitars whip a stunning ambient melody, and his voice is a wolf howling from inside of the dark forest. Sapthuran’s music is perfect picture of the primeval man encountering the forces of nature and cowering to their power, but, dare I say it, I hear a lot of hope and perseverance in Sapthuran. His style of black metal is almost triumphant, promising deliverance in the end. Acoustic Venetian guitar slowdown in As a Tale Told by the Leaves and Whispered by the Wind reappears as a full short instrumental in And Autumn Sheds its Final Tear. Sapthuran may be a relative rookie, but his side of the split impressed me immensely.

Leviathan starts with Odious Convulsions, as if trying to counter the Sapthuran’s hope with distorted ugliness brought to the forefront. This track is much angrier, draws the “split” line clearly in the sand and has almost an industrial touch with its distorted effects and weird tribal beats, wood-on-wood drums at the beginning and strong bass/drum interplay towards the end. Leviathan plays a veteran to Sapthuran’s novice, and it shows in Wrest’s music being threefold more powerful, production also being much more balanced and richer.

Force and conviction, Leviathan is not averse to melodic inclinations. After drums and ripping guitars destroy everything in their wake, Wrest brings forth a fast played, but practically funeral in its interpretation, melody on The Fourth Blind Wound, perhaps one of the strongest tracks I have heard from Leviathan in my limited experience. Frenetic thrashiness on Another Sip of Fear and horrific vocals highlighting ugliness of Crushing the Prolapsed Oviducts of Virtue also allow room for subliminal melodic guitar lines. Cavernous Mesmerism shuts the door behind hope, sucking the voice in the swampy vortex from which there is no way out.

If Sapthuran is somber light, then Leviathan is somber ugly, practically dreadful, and I have a feeling the split was intended that way. Bigger USBM fans probably would not miss anything with Leviathan’s name attached to it, but I really want to argue for Sapthuran here. Now if I only get to Xasthur/Leviathan opus …

Killing Songs :
As a Tale Told by the Leaves and Whispered by the Wind, The Fourth Blind Wound
Alex quoted 85 / 100
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