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Two of the main perpetrators of the current black metal movement team up for a split CD, as Xasthur and Leviathan share their bleak musical visions here. First up is Xasthur, the one-man band spearheaded by Malefic, whose contributed seven tracks are cold, distant, and bone chilling, except on the cover of Katatonia’s “Palace of Frost”, where the guitars are uncharacteristically pushed up front in the mix to emit a ray of light into the usual black hole of despair Xasthur’s music usually entails. Leviathan, fronted by Wrest, is up next, and his three tracks, clocking in at over 30 minutes, utilizes ambient keyboards way more prominently than Xasthur, allowing songs like “The Remotest Cipher” to exemplify a false sense of comfort over the pummeling death rattle underneath. There’s good reason why these two men are at the top of the black metal movement, and this split succinctly showcases each artist’s strengths in black metal’s darkened realm.
- Mike SOS