Leviathan is a one man black metal project created by Wrest, a very prolific musician hailing from the desolate, frozen wastes of....erm.... California. Quite a prominent figure in the US Black Metal scene, he has risen to the same stature as that other USBM celebrity, Malefic, mastermind of similar one man black metal outfit Xasthur.
Wrest employs simlilar aesthetics in his work, such as 'grimmer than thou' artwork, titles and lyrics (the second songtitle is a particularly good example of this), raw production values and general musical minimalism all executed with a DIY punk attitude. 'The Tenth Sublevel of Suicide' consists of stripped-down, repetitive, buzzsaw tremelo riffs interspersed with pounding, mid-paced sections, crunchy punk bridges and slow and dissonant, Xasthur-like shoegaze sections, all interweaved with portentous noise/ambience and backed up by a noisy and basic-sounding drum machine that clatters and plods along appropriately.
The album has a very washed out sound, the music accompanied by high-pitched growls and wails sat low in the mix, giving them an ethereal and distant quality. The album ebbs and flows nicely, moving from raging, clattering lo-fi black metal to punk breakdowns to sombre passages with tranquil synths and sad, gentle clean chords. The majority of the album is given over to furious dissonant black metal with a punkish backbone however, although there is nigh-on constant experimentation from this base throughout, as the songs repeatedly shift tempo and go flying off on new tangents. There are frequent prolonged and lethargic excursions into depressive black metal territory too, and these are particularly well-executed.
Whilst at a cursory glance 'The Tenth Sublevel of Suicide' would appear to be yet another exercise in image over content, it reveals itself to be a varied album involving a lot of musical progession that will keep listeners guessing throughout. The faster sections work well in conjuction with the lethargic, dirgey, positively moribund slower sections, whilst the ambient passages give the whole thing a more dramatic feel, contrasting the claustraphobic metal with an expansive and euphoric, if nightmarish, atmosphere. Like Xasthur, Leviathan are successful in creating something that is far greater than the sum of its parts, the ramshackle nature of its construction affording it a crude charm all of its own and proving hugely atmospheric where many another bedroom black metal project has failed miserably.
1. Introit 01:14
2. F*cking Your Ghost in Chains of Ice 05:40
3. Sardoniscorn 09:54
4. The Bitter Emblem of Dissolve 05:55
5. Scenic Solitude and Leprosy 06:45
6. He Whom Shadows Move Towards 06:38
7. Submersed 03:15
8. Mine Molten Armor 07:03
9. The Idiot Sun 09:33
10. At the Door to the Tenth Sub Level of Suicide 15:02
Total playing time 01:10:59
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Fucking Your Ghost In Chains Of Ice
4 Bitter Emblem Of Dissolve
5 Scenic Solitude And Leprosy
6 He Whom Shadows Move Towards
8 Mine Molten Armor
9 Idiot Sun
10 At The Door To The Tenth Sub Level Of Suicide