XASTHUR/LEVIATHAN Split CD - BATTLE KOMMAND
The CD at hand is the re-release of a vinyl issued by Profound Lore over a year ago. The CD adds several songs to the original track listing and gives the joint release wider accessibility and distribution.
Xasthur and Leviathan share many traits. They are both part of the new breed of ambient black metal bands from America favouring depression over speed or heaviness. Both bands are in fact solo ventures and have gained much acclaim on the underground scene.
Xasthur appears with seven tracks including a Katatonia cover version of Palace Of Frost and a rehearsal version of Telepathic With The Deceased. The band’s relatively shorter songs are monotonous, depressive and emotional. The drums are of minor importance and the band’s focus is on the singer’s howls and the distorted guitar tones played at a moderate pace. The resulting evil feel is uncanny. Leviathan’s end of the bargain features only three tracks, but that only alone is nearly 30 minutes of music. Then again, the last song is yet another cover version. Here the emphasis is more on electronica, although everything noted for Xasthur can be valid here too. - Ali “The Metallian”
XASTHUR - SUBLIMINAL GENOCIDE - HYDRA HEAD
Xasthur has been a busy boy/band lately. Albums, mini-albums, split records and compilations have been pouring out of the elusive American black metal band’s uncreative well to the delight of the man’s fans. While the quantity has been there, the quality has been debatable given the similarity of the songs and releases. Consistency is a double-edged sword, one assumes. Xasthur, for the uninitiated, is a one-man band with an emphasis on dissonance and noise and less emphasis on riffs or instruments. The vocals are horrific, horrified and hellish screams, the music is a distorted guitar and the rum machines at least twelve feet under and nowhere to be heard. The message and delivery are bleak, while the need for production or sound engineering abdicated in favour of the aesthetics of death and nihilism. Triumph of art over substance? Possible. - Anna Tergel
XASTHUR - DEFECTIVE EPITAPH - HYDRA HEAD
In a subgenre that was supposedly founded based on an anti-trend philosophy, trends run incredibly rampant in black metal. Over the last several years, black metal from the United States (USBM) has been a perpetual seller, with Xasthur and fellow American Leviathan leading that darkened path, each of the duo’s releases selling out of their limited runs immediately. The hysteria over both of these one-man black metal bands has subsided slightly but that doesn’t mean the musical output has, as witnessed here by Xasthur’s Defective Epitaph. This is a really intriguing listen, one that is obsessed with cavernous atmosphere; aside from the vocals, there really isn’t much rage found here which, paradoxically, only makes the proceedings that much more claustrophobic. The amazing synth is what steals the show, Xasthur employing mellotron (?) to excellent effect: in a sense, this is Xasthur most daring work, an expansive claim to misanthropy. One of the most stirring tracks here is Dehumanizing Procession, an ambient track that oddly reminds of those '80s National Film Board of Canada (NFB) educational videos they used to show in elementary schools. While that last comment might sound like ironic posturing, it’s actually a compliment as the NFB inspired another affecting legion, Scottish trip-hop luminaries Boards Of Canada. I guess the only negative to be found here is Defective Epitaph’s insistence -- at certain points - of relying on the now tired USBM formula. One would hope Xasthur, of all figures, would attempt to escape the drear of similarity. - James Tape