Review : LEVIATHAN – "True Traitor, True Whore"

LeviathanTrue Traitor, True Whore
Release: 2011Nov08 (US)
Label: Profound Lore
Rating: 4/5

The starting moments of True Traitor, True Whore sound off with grunts and groans of displeasure, anger and hate. Wrest (Jef Whitehead), the talented tattooer and sole member, has much to be hateful for. The year started out with serious allegations of violence and rape that will taint any man—true or false—and because people often readily lynch first and ask questions later, many in the underground metal world turned its back on the band “to play it safe”. Since then, new information suggests the allegations hold little to no water, but the fact remains—his reputation and career is permanently tainted.

True Traitor, True Whore is a response to all of this, expressing the rage, despair, and even sadness toward the situation. It’s as much a revenge album as it is a cathartic one. Musically the album is strong, if not a bit rusty—after all, its been three years since Leviathan put out an album. Plus, the other bands he’s recently been involved with (Nachtmystium, Twilight, Krieg) have mostly showcased his rhythm section skills.

The songs are well-written, though still with a foggy familiarity… but fuck it, I came for the same strange psych layers, goth ambience, strange delayed vocals, riffs that channel Czarl and Deathspell Omega, and all the other things that made me a fan. It’s nice to hear elements added to the Leviathan sound:  “Brought Up to the Bottom” has parts that feel at home on a ’90s noise rock album, “Contrary Pulse” uses post-rock sounds to great effect, and “Shed This Skin” starts off like a Ved Buens Ende or Virus album, musically and vocally. In general, the TTTW is more direct and to-the-point. I enjoy when he hashes out the ambient parts, but here they are mostly used as segues and seem a little less interesting/important than before. I can only hope that element is being stashed away for the Lurker of Chalice follow-up.

Initial listens has me a little skeptical on the production—it’s a bit too polished for a Leviathan record. Sanford Parker always does a great job, so maybe after my years of listening to the band one way, I needed to adjust to its newfound clarity. Some may be disappointed that this album is less adventurous, but I appreciate his consistency, especially as they omit more of the traditional black metal sound. True Traitor, True Whore serves as a welcome comeback for America’s best one-man black metal project.

01. True Whorror
02. Her Circle Is The Noose
03. Brought Up To The Bottom
04. Contrary Pulse
05. Shed This Skin
06. Every Orifice Yawning Her Price
07. Harlot Rises
08. Blood Red And True

~Phil Eisenhauer

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