Category: Music Review

31 Days Of Halloween Albums – Day 23

Trent Reznor: Quake Soundtrack (1996)

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Throughout the ’90s it was virtually impossible to escape the music of Trent Reznor. Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral was as much a staple as Nirvana’s Nevermind and in everyone’s CD collection at the time. His particular blend of synthesized industrial metal spawned hundreds of copycat groups as well as a moderate amount of controversy. His earlier material didn’t appeal to me in the slightest but there is simply no denying his genius as a multi-instrumentalist and composer.

Quake was id Software’s follow-up to the incredibly important video game, Doom. At first I had considered putting Doom on this list instead as I have a lot more nostalgia for that title and a more memorable soundtrack for me, personally as a result. While the music for Doom is fantastic, it borrows a lot of ideas and riffs from a variety of different heavy guitar influenced groups so it doesn’t sound as wholly original as Reznor’s Quake. Also, Doom’s music sounds a lot like a video game soundtrack whereas this one can be enjoyed on it’s own.

Reznor’s work on this soundtrack is criminally overlooked as video games weren’t taken quite as seriously as an artistic medium back then as they are today. Where Nine Inch Nails’ earlier albums fell short for me was in the overly hostile, angry vocals and synth-lead compositions. I can appreciate and respect albums like Broken and The Downward Spiral without fully enjoying them. In fact, I own all of Reznor’s discography on CD and partially on vinyl. What attracts me to his newer material and this Quake soundtrack is the restraint he has developed over the years.

This soundtrack is best heard loud on a dark, damp October evening. The complexity in the arrangements play serious tricks on the listener as subtle sounds ebb and flow throughout. There are moments where the music physically appears to affect my body, particularly in the quieter sections where tiny gurgles or tinny noises occur repetitively. In a lot of ways it sounds as though Reznor was channeling his inner Coil as the music definitely takes on a more ambient, almost noise-based quality compared to his main catalog of Nine Inch Nails productions.

In conclusion, Quake is not only a near perfect Halloween experience to physically play in video game form but also a fantastic album to simply enjoy on it’s own merits. Trent Reznor is one of the last living geniuses in the world of music who deserves all the love in the world for his consistent efforts of shaping and reshaping the formula throughout the past few decades.


31 Days Of Halloween Albums – Day 22

Portal: Swarth (2009)

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Immediately after giving my negative opinions on bands that rely on gimmicky stage performances for shock value I offer up today’s entry with Portal’s 2009 entry, Swarth.

At the risk of appearing as a total hypocrite I’ll preface this entire thing by opining that Portal doesn’t entirely rely on cheap visual tricks to garner attention. If anything, the elaborate costumes are used to heighten the level of fear presented by their music with an added layer of anonymity. Other bands, such as Ghost have done this to varying levels of success. Though, I’ve always found all aspects of Ghost to be pretty lame.

Perhaps the differences are in the abstract qualities that Portal displays. They don’t parade around on stage dressed in Priest’s garb while singing standard radio-friendly butt-rock tracks. The music that Portal writes is obtuse, complicated and terrifying. Their album covers are abstract and dark. The bizarre, Lovecraftian outfits they wear onstage befit the music.

Portal are an off-putting band to casually listen to. I’m a fleeting fan in that I can only stand to listen to them for short periods in spurts. Luckily, the group seems to be aware of this as all of their LPs are relatively short.

Swarth is my favorite of these full albums. I’ve yet to purchase any of their many EPs or splits as there appear to be many so my experiences with the band as a whole are rather limited. What I can confidently offer is that this music is not for everyone. Hell, it’s barely for me but every once in a while I’m in the mood to be bludgeoned over the head with repetitive, loud guitars and incomprehensible vocals. It is a great Halloween listen, even if it means ignoring their records for the remaining 11 months of the year.

The biggest problem I have with a lot of their material is the production. I’m a fan of noisy, avante-garde music but even I have my limits. For one, the audio is mixed far too loudly to be enjoyable. Bands like Boris often do the same thing but it works for them as they tend to rely much more on the distorted feedback than the melodies on some of their albums. They also know when to tone it back whereas the Portal’s albums just sound abrasive for the sake of being an irritant.

Imagine listening to any other record on your speakers or headphones then popping on something immediately afterwards that practically busts your hardware and eardrums just because it was unexpected. It is the equivalent of a jump-scare in a Horror film, cheap, lazy and artificial. To mix an album at 11 feels juvenile and pointless. This isn’t the late ’90s anymore where this production style was prevalent. It is as trashy sounding now as it was then. I’d love to call out Merzbow as the prime offender of instilling this into “noise” music as they are one of the oldest and one of the biggest perpetrators of this awful trend.

I am not a “playlist” guy in the slightest but you might as well forget about adding any Portal or Merzbow to your music libraries if you ever expect to hit “shuffle” without a better than average equalizer.

To reiterate, I dig raw production. Loud music is great music. I crank my speakers when I listen to music and turn my amps up high when I’m playing my instruments. The difference is that I have control over the decibels I want pumping into my cranium. Not only that but the music, itself suffers from being distorted in a very inorganic way. It sounds like it is being recorded through a MIDI interface and clipping through every instrument. Maybe this was intended and I just don’t “get it” but it is infuriatingly unappealing.

On second thought, maybe I don’t like Portal at all. Sure, it is great Halloween music if you enjoy the esoteric writing of Lovecraft. Yes, the guitars occasionally do something interesting, like callously strumming open chords to break up the monotony of generic, tremelo plucked strings. There are also a few reprises that come through on this album that make all of the noisy, garbled nonsense understandable in spurts. Yeah, I think I just hate this music but it still deserves to be on this list. Maybe I’ll enjoy it more next year when I give their discography another chance.


31 Days Of Halloween Albums – Day 21

Today’s Halloween recommendation is going to be a bit shorter than usual as I’ll be doing an entire written spotlight on this great, underappreciated band next month.

Sigh: Graveward (2015)

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In a lot of ways it would have been impossible to leave Sigh off of this list despite having decided to spend next month writing about each of their terrific albums in order. Any one of their albums could have made it on here as a Halloween recommendation but Graveward is the one that feels completely rooted in the spirit of ghosts, goblins, tricks and/or treats.

I’ve been a massive fan of this band since I first heard their 2001 release, Imaginary Soundscape. The complexities within each song coupled with the raw, organic heaviness that permeates throughout is unique in a landscape of music filled with bands that sound terribly alike. Born from the Scandinavian Black Metal scene, this Japanese band transcended the fitting of that particular genre quite quickly to become something absurdly original.

At first this album was a gigantic letdown for me after the incredibly strong In Somniphobia release. It wasn’t until maybe the dozenth listen that tracks such as Tombfiller and The Trial By The Dead began to click that I understood what they were going for on this outing. It was the much more streamlined approach that I found off-putting at first, coupled with the bizarre production on the “core” instruments.

To explain, the guitars are muffled and often in the background with the drums and bass barely resonating above the loud orchestra tracks. While the strings, brass and choirs are nothing new to Sigh’s ever-changing repertoire, they have always been a bit more subdued and relegated to the background. The production on Graveward is meticulously crafted to sound like a wall of music which can sound a bit odd at first. After a few listens it is apparent that this is an improvement over a sound that was already pretty close to perfection to begin with. Everything gels extremely well with each individual instrument still getting the attention it deserves when it benefits the greater whole of the composition.

With a name like Graveward it is pretty obvious why this album is on this list. It is a fun romp that is chock-full of Halloween themes and soundscapes. The introduction of the title track is used as a reprisal throughout to tie everything together succinctly which makes this one of this band’s most concise albums. For those interested I highly recommend the first three tracks in their respective order as they give a very clear idea as to what the rest of the album has in store.


31 Days Of Halloween Albums – Day 20

Today’s entry doesn’t really do much to incite the Halloween spirit aside from the persona the man himself portrays onstage and even that is tame by today’s standards and frankly a bit lame in general. Still, I found it appropriate to put an Alice Cooper record on this list, for the sake of posterity.

Alice Cooper: Billion Dollar Babies (1973)

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Admittedly, Alice Cooper had always managed to fly under my music radar when I was younger. Even as a kid I really couldn’t get behind the gimmicky stage performances or any of the band’s who opted to garishly garnish themselves behind layers of makeup. Alice Cooper, Kiss, Marilyn Manson and Slipknot have always been bands I’ve not been able to take seriously but what I grew to appreciate about the artist on display today is the music behind the ridiculousness. Those other bands still suck though.

I was at a record store in my early 30s perusing the used selection when I first heard Unfinished Sweet, the fifth track off this album. When I asked the clerk what the song was I was so surprised that I asked him to replay the album from the beginning. For the rest of my visit I pretended to search through the store’s collection as I took in Billion Dollar Babies with my ear holes. When the music had ended I promptly walked to the other record store to buy the album since the prices are always too high at that first one. Thus began my interest in all of Alice Cooper’s catalog.

The musicianship on display throughout all of their early albums is phenomenal. There are tons of melodies reminiscent of mid-’60s rock bands such as The Beatles and the like while some of the lengthier instrumental sections take on some of the more experimental, abstract elements of Frank Zappa’s material. This shouldn’t be too surprising as Zappa actually helped Cooper and crew get started and as such was an integral key to the band’s success.

Alice Cooper is on this list as one of the first mainstream rock bands to incorporate the Halloween spirit into their onstage persona. I still think it looks utterly stupid and embarrassing, to be frank. Not only that but the music doesn’t reflect the imagery on display in the slightest. What I hear is a band ahead of it’s time in many ways while staying rooted in what made those early rock groups legendary. If anything, the radio singles and gimmicks are the weakest elements.

Songs like the aforementioned Unfinished Sweet, Elected and the absolutely phenomenal acoustic-led Generation Landslide are all killer tracks that break the conventions of boring butt-rock radio. Cooper (Vincent Furnier) sounds better when takes his cues from the book of Zappa rather than that of popular music and the unorthodox way he presents his vocals at times is unusually and impressive.

There is no way you can go wrong with any of Cooper’s earlier recordings and while they aren’t inherently dark or ghoulish in nature, I think one of their albums deserved a spot here. Personally, Billion Dollar Babies was the first of their many albums to truly grab me so I opted for it. I suppose I Love The Dead could be considered a Halloween song if it weren’t for the absolutely silly, Dr. Seuss delivery of the vocals and Unfinished Sweet is a bit spooky because who in the hell enjoys a visit to the dentist?


31 Days Of Halloween Albums – Day 19

By now I think it is apparent that I’m much fonder of classical cinema than modern films. One of the main reasons for this are the fully orchestrated scores, particularly within the Horror genre. Sibelius’ Symphony No.4 is one of the most theatrical compositions I’ve heard and fits wonderfully on this list of Halloween albums.

Sibelius: Symphony No.4 A minor Op.63 - Karajan Berlin Philharmonic (1966)

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For those who haven’t explored the oftentimes dark world of classical music, I’d recommend this is a starting point. All versions are great but my personal favorite is this one performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. It is purchasable from a few different online shops but also available to hear in it’s entirety on YouTube, for those not quite sure about committing. As always I’m an advocate of supporting artists but sometimes it is convenient to sample something before committing to a purchase. Especially considering the prices some of the music on this list commands for a physical release.

There are many different versions of this piece but the one I’m writing about is the 1966 release conducted by Herbert Von Karajan. I’ll leave a link at the end of this post to the Discogs page.

There is something about the first movement of this particular version that reminds me of the Ray Harryhausen effects in those mythological monster films like Clash Of The Titans and Jason And The Argonauts. For one reason or another those movies are as synonymous with Halloween as any of the early Universal or Hammer Horror pictures. They are violent, a bit scary and contain more monsters than any typical film in the Horror genre but they are also a little dark and a whole lot of fun.

The entire piece opens with hearty swathes of dark strings and an almost guttural moaning of brasses. This would be the soundtrack for a Merry Melodies cartoon if Daffy finally got his just desserts at the hands of Death rather than the playful Elmer Fudd. There are moments of levity but most of them are diffused, it is nearly impossible to not envision some sort of live-action drama playing out on a stage as the opposing sounds struggle to find a balance.

The second movement begins beautifully as well before dropping into a pit of perfectly performed despair, leaving nothing but the jazzy flutes to regain some levity as they open the third, my favorite act. What’s expected is a bit of playfulness but what follows is anything but as this is the turning point of the entire piece where everything starts to sound a little colder and disparate to the more innocent segments of the introduction. The remainder of this form of narrative never seem to regain the levity or optimism presented at the beginning, instead opting for a tragic conclusion.

Every moment of hope is extinguished quite quickly with strokes of uncertainty. At times it sounds as if happiness is choking on the overwhelming darkness that permeates before inevitably throwing in the towel due to the futility of the fight. The listener can sense it looming from the beginning and it just feels like a matter of time before there is nothing left but to let it swallow you whole. This constant theme builds through reprises intended to remind the listener that all is not well.

Without intentionally trying to sound too hyperbolic, this piece of music simply moves me in a way that none other ever has. It is beautiful, bold and tranquil all at once and it is impossible for me to passively have it playing in the background as it demands full attention. For those lucky enough to live in a part of the world where the warmth of Summer eventually becomes dispelled by the frost of Winter, this composition should compliment and aid in the inevitable change of seasons. There is no fighting the cold, frigid dark so why not just concede and let it take over entirely without a struggle.


31 Days Of Halloween Albums – Day 18

Wait, what?
Two albums by the same band back-to-back?
Are things at the Prolefeed101 Headquarters getting a bit slack? Was it too tricky to conjure up 31 spooky albums?
Well, yes and maybe but more importantly, definitely not.

The Koffin Kats: Drunk In The Daylight (2008)

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Sorry, this was the best image I could acquire. The issue with smaller bands being relegated to download only still persists.  Trust me, I want this on wax baby.

Admittedly my indecisiveness was in full effect today. Half of me wanted to recommend The Koffin’s Kats’ self-titled inaugural album while the other urged for Drunk In The Daylight to be the one on this list. In a lot of ways I’m sharing a lot of attributes akin to that Batman villain, The Indecisivenesser Man.

Drunk In The Daylight is a phenomenal album that refines all of the elements of that first release to perfection. The amount of variety on this record is staggering. My personal complaints regarding the samey nature of some of the choruses and vocals in general have been improved. From the opening quietness of Storm Ahead to the heavy harmonics that prevail over the closing song’s guitar lines, this thing is just utterly fantastic!

For those who have kept up to date with my amateur writings on music you will know how integral I believe an album’s sequencing is to it’s overall impact. This album starts off slower than it’s predecessors but eventually becomes much faster and more intense as it plays out with a few moments of respite throughout. For example, the opening tracks keep ratcheting up the speed with things coming to ahead on the third track, Loud And Hard.

For Blood refreshes the intensity with a relatively slow introduction before blasting off into what the kids call “Psychobilly” once again. Each song on this album is carefully placed to incite the most amount of suspense for what happens next. The entire record flows so organically well that it was impossible to ignore on this list. So, what does it have to do with Halloween?

Lyrics about candy apples, vampirism and the macabre are plastered throughout all of this album’s generous 17 tracks with my personal favorite song being Bad Apple. Seriously, check this song out as you’re collecting or hanging out candy on the 31st. The lyrics are damned perfect and the delivery of the vocals exhibit a confidence not displayed on The Koffin Kats’ earlier outings.

In conclusion, everyone should listen to The Koffin Kats. Start with their first and work your way through their discography. Sure, I sound like a bit of a fanboy but what does it matter? Undiscovered music is good music and this band deserves more attention. They wear their love for Misfits on their sleeves as well as how transparently they list them as an influence so, if you’re a fan of that band you should treat yourself to this band. “That” and “this,” man, I have gotten lazy.


31 Days Of Halloween Albums – Day 17

What was that Marigold? You say it’s Halloween and you want to dance? Well, today we’ve got something in store for you!

Koffin Kats (2004)

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The Koffin Kats’ self-titled 2004 release has all of the working of a typical Rockabilly outfit tethered tightly in monster themed lace. Apparently the genre identifiers are on the prowl again as this style of music is entitled Psychobilly, whatever the hell that means. Wait, wasn’t that the name of the dude from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre flick? Or perhaps the genre of films that Rob Zombie has been creating since he decided to be a director? I digress, The Koffin Kat’s rock and I’m not just talking about the fifth song title off of this fantastic LP.

I became an instant fan of these guys the moment my girlfriend introduced them to me. Vic Victor’s upright bass sound is intoxicating and his best impression of Glenn Danzig at times is a good one. Tommy Koffin’s guitar sound is chock-full of ’50s style fuzz, which is expected when it comes to this kind of music and the drums have that familiar, snare-led click synonymous with this style of greaser rock.

The only minor gripe that I have is that a lot of the vocals tend to meld together. Sometimes it is tough to discern songs from one another, particularly during the choruses. For instance, the vocal line from the aforementioned Koffin Kat Rock is nearly identical to that of Graveyard Tree. Music like this needs to be delivered with a certain amount of swagger and confidence that Victor doesn’t convincingly deliver as a vocalist. This would later be fixed on later albums as his voice matured so it is a nit-pick that eventually got fixed.

With campy, horror-themed lyrics and fun, energetic music, I’d recommend this or any of The Koffin Kats’ early albums to pretty much anyone. Typically, Rockabilly music doesn’t appeal to me but then again, I dislike quarantining any band to the relegated confinements of a genre so maybe I’ll just say that I generally don’t dig this style as I find that every song sounds far too similar. I still don’t understand who or what “Psychobilly” is but if it means entertaining lyrics and clever music than perhaps this band got it right. Though, they should have named the song The Koffin Kats Rock. That apostrophe means everything.


31 Days Of Halloween Albums – Day 16

Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead Trilogy is simply one of the best series to have ever been released with the Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn being my absolute favorite film of all time as well as my go-to test of character among people. To put it bluntly, if you can’t at least moderately enjoy the movie for it’s ridiculous humor and grisly effects there is a good chance we can’t be friends. Today’s album is as perfect a pairing with that movie as red wine with beef.

Deicide (1990)

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My introduction to this band was fittingly with this inaugural, eponymous album on cassette tape in the year of it’s release. It was one of my first exposures to Death Metal so I had thought I’d stumbled upon something illegally belched up from the depths of hell, a sort of audio derelict abandoned from the house of Satan himself. Odd, I know but I was very young and thought I should hide the evidence to only enjoy alone.

Coincidentally, 1990 would also be the year I first discovered Evil Dead 2 so you can probably imagine the look on my face the first time I heard the song Dead By Dawn, a track obviously inspired by the film. My mind was blown and that’s where my obsession with Benton’s recreation of the “she bitch’s” guttural howls from within the cellar began. Since then I’ve probably heard the song a billion times. It, like the film are Halloween staples.

So far on this list we’ve run the gamut from the atmospheric subtlety of Bohren & Der Club Of Gore through the cheeky playfulness of Misfits to the Lovecraftian terror that is Wrest’s music. Deicide’s first album is the audio equivalent of a quick-paced slasher film. It is as brutally frenetic as a madman chasing his victim through the woods. The guitar riffs performed by brothers Eric and Brian Hoffman are as precise and calculated as a psychopath’s ax and Asheim’s drums are terrifyingly quick but steady. The band fires on all cylinders out of the gate on Lunatics Of God’s Creation and never ceases to persist.

Despite my naivety in believing that this album was a rarity, it was actually a huge success and often considered to be a true Death Metal classic. I can’t argue with the critical acclaim it has garnered over the years and at just over 33 minutes it is the perfect amount of heavy music without overstaying it’s welcome or becoming redundant.

Part of the reason this is such a highly regarded record is due to the inclusion of the legendary Scott Burns who famously produced pretty much every notable band at the time. Chances are, if you’ve heard and enjoyed any Death Metal record album from the ’90s, this man was at the helm.

I’m not a huge fan of Deicide’s other albums but this first one is aces in my book. Admittedly, the “God hating” thing gets a little tiresome and gimmicky after a couple of albums but what’s here is as fresh today as it was in 1990. Very rarely can a heavy band fill the duration of an entire record with riffs this interestingly complex. Seriously, every second of this thing is packed with quality. If aggressive music just isn’t your bag I’d still recommend checking out the song Dead By Dawn, if only for the amazing vocals and especially if you’re an Evil Dead fan.


31 Days Of Halloween Albums – Day 15

Misfits: Earth A.D./Wolf’s Blood (1983)

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The biggest difference between Misfits’ inaugural album Walk Among Us and Earth A.D is the sheer, unbridled aggression. Jerry Only and Doyle’s bass and guitar, respectively bridge almost every gap between songs with feedback noise and Danzig’s vocals are absolutely unhinged and overly aggressive to the point where only certain words seem comprehensible. In a lot of ways it makes the choral chants and playfulness of Walk Among Us seem juvenile by comparison. Robo’s drumming is equally as ferocious and faster than ever, or would ever be again. This might just be the quintessential Misfits’ album.

The title track and Queen Wasp open this album right up with a bombastic one-two punch but things only escalate with the furiously frantic Devilock. At a short run-time of 14 minutes there really isn’t a moment for the listener to grab a breather. This is a prime example of extreme hardcore Punk at it’s finest. It gives bands like Black Flag a run for their money and was a truly revolutionary album in 1983 that remains unsurpassed to this day.

This is a very brief look back at a short but brilliant album. For years it was my favorite Misfits’ and Punk album in general only to be later edged out by another recently. There really is no better band to listen to during the month of Halloween. Misfits are the embodiment of this season. Fun, exciting and entertaining and with albums this short, what do ya got to lose? So, once again sing it with me!
“Neeeooowwwwwwyareallygonnalikeitheeeeee”


31 Days Of Halloween Albums – Day 14

Since I began this crazy music thing over a year ago there have been a few albums that have been on my list to write about but none have been higher than Leviathan’s Scar Sighted.

Leviathan: Scar Sighted (2015)

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Scar Sighted was hands down my favorite album of the year 2015 and the main reason it hasn’t appeared sooner on here is due to the difficulty I have had obtaining it on vinyl. There is nothing that frustrates me more as a music fan than the exclusivity of some records and how distributors decide to print certain releases.

Tangentially, I wish all of these smaller artists would take money upfront from fans similarly to Patreon and other membership platforms for distribution purposes. Allow fans to support the release so when the backing numbers get high enough those who paid for the product can obtain a physical release outside of secondhand resell websites with ludicrously inflated prices. I’m sure it might not be as simple as that but as someone who is uneducated in this field I can’t help but give my two cents regardless.

Bottom line, I don’t buy CD’s and I don’t care for the compressed quality of digital downloads. I don’t listen to music flippantly by manner of playlists and prefer listening to an album, in full and in the sequenced ordering the artist or producer intended. Limited exclusives and the production numbers attached don’t mean anything to me just as long as I can listen to an album and have a tangible package to peruse and admire while doing so. As a fan of music I’m tired of exclusives and as a cynical armchair critic it doesn’t make me want to support the companies that distribute them. To me, they are the reason that the record industry is on the decline. Greedy, corporate garbage. I want to purchase my physical releases directly from the artists but first they need to be available so I can give them my damned money!

Scar Sighted has brilliantly designed artwork created by Wrest, who writes and performs all of the music. Visiting Leviathan’s bandcamp page under Profound Lore will link you to places to purchase his CD’s and offer support but sadly no vinyl the last I checked.

Those of you following this Halloween list might recognize that Wrest was also the creator and sole performer on Lurker Of Chalice. If that band was the audio equivalent of Lovecraft’s writing dictated through a slow moving, atmospheric, minimalist narrative than Leviathan is the Eldritch orgy that occurs when all cosmic hell breaks loose. It bombards the listener with an onslaught of multi-layered instruments solely intended to be as unsettling as possible while somehow retaining a semblance of musical structure. A passive ear may only hear abrasive noise at first but with some patience this album slowly begins to exhibit clarity. I say slowly because some dedication and revisiting may be required to make some sense of everything but once it does it all becomes quite coherent.

Each illustrated image within the album’s sleeve seemingly depicts some semblance of Lovecraftian horror by design and matches perfectly with the horrifically uneasy nature of the music. Most of the artwork appears to be cross-hatched with pen and ink almost entirely in monochromatic black and white with an occasional spattering of red ink to highlight certain features or elements in the images. They are beautifully terrifying on their own and perfectly reflect what is happening in the music as the instruments often blend together to create a wall of sound with occasional flourishes of tormented emotions. The prime example of this can be found on Within Thrall which contains large swathes of blind fury complimented by nearly jarring moments of beauty and even a choral chant that is as harmonized as a Beach Boy’s chorus. Moments like these are as startling as they are enthralling and there are speckles of them spattered throughout these ten songs over the course of just over an hour’s worth of music.

Billy Anderson’s production is another piece of the puzzle that really shouldn’t be overlooked. Wrest’s prior outings as Leviathan have all been great, if not a little muddled technically. This isn’t a slight against the earlier material as I enjoy most of those albums as well but Anderson brings a warmth and clarity on Scar Sighted not heard on any of those previous recordings. Everything is audible and clear while still retaining the dense foggy nature of traditional Black Metal. As someone who is a fan of the raw production of those classic bands, it is remarkable that I wasn’t instantly turned off by this all-around cleaner sound. On the contrary, i think it is an important feat that they were able to capture this so while while retaining that same sense of heaviness and I hope that Wrest continues in this fashion on his next project.

Where heavy music tends to become unappealingly mundane for me is in it’s failure to remain captivating for the entire duration of an album. A lot of bands tend to force themselves out of the gate at their fastest and most aggressive while never allowing a moment’s rest for composure on the listener’s end. It is the reason that so many Metal albums get tossed aside for me to never be explored again. Wrest’s biggest achievements in all of his projects are in the ways he keeps things fresh and interesting by diversifying the tempos in each song and by showing restraint when needed. The Smoke Of Their Torment and Dawn Vibration bludgeon the listener over the head after a short introductory piece but they contain interesting shifts both tonally and stylistically. The ending of the former ends in an atmospheric quasi-ambient jam coupled with a jazzy dream beat before the next wave of sonic torment begins.

What comes next are two songs that slow things down a few paces and to a crawl at moments with a pairing of tracks more akin to Lurker Of Chalice than Leviathan before things get ratcheted up again for the aforementioned Within Thrall. The entire album was seemingly conceived and constructed to be one larger narrative bigger than the sum of it’s parts. It is this attention to detail that music like this often doesn’t get credited enough for.

The title track and All Tongues Toward round out the latter half of the album nicely with the latter being one of the highlights that I personally look forward to with every listen. Aphonos bookends things nicely with a conclusion that feels very reminiscent to the opening instrumental track which encourages the listener to restart the journey over again, like a dream prematurely awoken from or a nightmare that will not end, Scar Sighted is a masterpiece of modern music created by one of the most underrated artists of this era.

Note: 2015 was a good year to be a fan of Lovecraft-inspired works with both Leviathan’s Scar Sighted and the amazing illustrations within as well as one of the best games of this decade, Bloodborne seeing release on the PS4. I encourage everyone who is a fan of this style of horror to check out the album art for Scar Sighted and to play Bloodborne.