Leviathan - Massive Conspiracy Against All Life
Moribund Cult
Depressive Black Metal
7 songs (62:16)
Release year: 2008
Moribund Cult
Reviewed by James
Album of the month

This record was almost never released. Ready for over a year, quarrels between Leviathan's sole member, Wrest and his label Moribund Cult led to an attempt by Wrest to release the album under his Lurker Of Chalice project on Battle Kommand records. A cease-and-desist order by Moribund caused another legal battle that resulted in many black metal fans' (me included) most anticipated album in a long while being delayed for yet more time. Unfortunately, it seems that a lot of people lost interest, with this album arriving to considerably less fanfare than would be expected from one of USBM's leading lights. And that's a shame because Massive Conspiracy Against All Life really is an outstanding body of work, though only time will tell if it surpasses putrid classic Tentacles Of Whorror.

Leviathan have been moving in a more aggressive direction ever since their last full-length Tentacles Of Whorror, covering fairly similar territory on the various split albums that have followed since then. But on opener Vesture Dipped In The Blood Of Morning, Wrest has upped things massively. After an ambient intro, the main body of the song flattens the listener with some of the most furious music Wrest's put to tape yet. The chaotic sound wouldn't look too out of place on a Deathspell Omega album, though with a certain edge that is still pure Leviathan. Where on early works Wrest was simply content to mope, here he sounds pissed. Even though his vocals are still the bilious distorted growl they've always been, the music backing them up is played with a far greater degree of intensity. The muddy sound of old has been replaced with a sparkling production job that takes none of the edge off the music's impact, although the bass is far lower in the mix than on Tentacles Of Whorror. Indeed, the overall sound of the more aggressive moments could be described as “Leviathan on steroids”, particularly on the scything Receive The World .

However, we also get to see Wrest's ambient side, this album certainly taking a bit of influence from his Lurker Of Chalice project. A good chunk of tracks like Merging With Sword, Onto Them and Noisome Ash Crown are taken up by this more ambient sound, the latter being bookended by throbbing, droning soundscapes. In fact, pretty much every song has an interlude of this nature .We've already seen this before on Tentacles Of Whorror, but here the transitions feel smoother, so much so that you'll barely notice the gap, unlike the previous album, where the black metal just, well, stopped and an ambient part kicked in. They keep the songs fresh, and prevent the aggression from simply wearing out the listener ( a common flaw in many lesser bands). There's still a little bit of the downbeat melodies of the debut here too, enough to keep Leviathan saddled with the often thrown about “depressive black metal” tag.

At just over an hour, Massive Conspiracy Against All Life is a little more concise than the 75-minute strolls in the park we're accustomed to from Wrest. Still, it certainly works in the record's favour, the album being engaging throughout, whereas I occasionally zoned out a bit on previous records. Pretty much every song here finds the mark, with the possible exception of Vulgar Asceticism. It's not a bad song as such, but in the context of the record it doesn't really bring anything new to the table, feeling like a bit of a rewrite of other songs on the album.

Leviathan's future looks uncertain at the moment, and it's been rumoured that Wrest intends to put an end to the Leviathan name. If he has decided to finish Leviathan for good, then he could barely have put out a better closing release. This would be a hell of a swansong, and if not, it's a more than worthy addition to the Leviathan catalogue.

Killing Songs :
All except Vulgar Asceticism
James quoted 93 / 100
Other albums by Leviathan that we have reviewed:
Leviathan - Scar Sighted reviewed by Goat and quoted 92 / 100
Leviathan - The Tenth Sub Level Of Suicide reviewed by Goat and quoted 88 / 100
Leviathan - Tentacles of Whorror reviewed by Daniel and quoted 93 / 100
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