Leviathan - The Tenth Sub Level Of Suicide
Moribund Cult
Depressive Black Metal
10 songs (1:10:59)
Release year: 2003
Moribund Cult
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Declaring yourself a fan of Leviathan would be risky enough in black metal kvlture even if Wrest hadn’t bizarrely been accused of sexually assaulting his girlfriend with tattooing equipment earlier this year. The band has always stood at the edge of ‘acceptable’ USBM, not as fuzzily demented as Xasthur nor as grimly krieg as Krieg... I tend to see them as an American version of Shining or one of France’s nastier hordes, genuinely disturbing, repulsive music made by a man who may well be a shrieking nutjob. He doesn’t come over as a particularly sane individual, either from his music or from a recent interview – neither of which proves his guilt, of course. He strongly protests his innocence and is due to release an album later this year called True Traitor, True Whore; say what you like, the man has balls.

Assuming his innocence in the lack of proof to the contrary, then, it’s worth taking a listen to Leviathan’s past albums if only to get a glimpse of the mental torments that must wreak havoc on Wrest – The Tenth Sub Level Of Suicide, Leviathan’s 2003 debut full-length after several years of demos, is a particularly dark place to start. From the artwork to the songtitles, this is a depraved, filthy, horrid piece of music to listen to. Newcomers will find that the songs are uniformly the sound of the crawling phantom on the cover shrieking at you over a disturbingly catchy backing set of riffs, moments of headbanging arrested in shock as a particularly nerve-wracking howl interrupts your enjoyment of the music. And it is easy to enjoy, this music, without a doubt – the guitar parts are very well-written, the drums tip-tapping ominously, the dense layers of suffocating synths adding dread to an already terrifying experience. You don’t want to enjoy it, but you can’t help it; the crushing professionalism at play in the songwriting is obvious, even buried in filth. It’s a strange, bleak experience, is a first listen to this...

...Particularly as on your third or fourth hearing, it starts to make an uncanny sense, and the eerie intelligence that has lurked behind those distressing screams starts to make its presence known. Where once opener Fucking Your Ghost In Chains Of Ice seemed like a random paean to an idiot sitting and repeatedly banging his head against a wall, now said idiot is muttering, and his eyes are watching you – and your head is banging, too. Mayhemic eruptions of riffs walk dark corridors, an eternal predator forever stalking his victims from open sewer gratings. The blastbeats that open Sardoniscorn are a constant rumble at the back of your mind, relief given but briefly before the crushing downwards rush of riffs repeatedly wash over you, eerie piano opening a whole other plateau of dread later in the track.

And it goes on, and on. Dips into deceptively lovely ambience on The Bitter Emblem Of Dissolve, the rampaging post-grind aggression of Scenic Solitude And Leprosy, the sudden turn towards atmospheric pleasure in He Whom Shadows Move Towards... all simply writhe with an ungodly intelligence. The forever-building menace of Mine Molten Armour, the grandiose depravity of The Idiot Sun... And as for fifteen-minute closer At The Door To The Tenth Sub Level Of Suicide, well, this is an atmospheric journey like few others, a clattering, miserable, crawling abomination of a track that slowly fades to ambience as the rope tightens and the body stops jerking. This is grim, unyielding, reprehensible stuff, genuinely disturbing music made by a genuinely disturbing man. Fortunately (?) this music needs no associated crime in order to make it dark. A healthily-minded artist would have deliberately given the album more of its atmospheric elements for full deranged value – Wrest’s music simply is atmospherically creepy in and of itself. Which sums it up perfectly, really.

Killing Songs :
Fucking Your Ghost In Chains Of Ice, Sardoniscorn, He Whom Shadows Move Towards, Mine Molten Armour, At The Door to The Tenth Sub Level Of Suicide
Goat quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Leviathan that we have reviewed:
Leviathan - Scar Sighted reviewed by Goat and quoted 92 / 100
Leviathan - Massive Conspiracy Against All Life reviewed by James and quoted 93 / 100
Leviathan - Tentacles of Whorror reviewed by Daniel and quoted 93 / 100
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