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Review

Leviathan – Förmörkelse Review

Band: Leviathan
Album: Förmörkelse
Label: Bile Noire
Genre: Black Metal
Country: Sweden
Release Date: September 10, 2020
For Fans Of: Wachenfeldt, Mistur, Malokarpatan

Leviathan (no, not Scar-Sighted Leviathan) hail from Sweden, and play a brand of black metal that blends in well with 2nd wave black metal, albeit with a much better production job than many of their predecessors. They released their debut album in 2002. After that they promptly did nothing for 18 years before releasing a follow-up. With all of that waiting, one would hope that Leviathan spent at least some of that time finely tuning their next release. We’ll see if they did enough for this album to tread water.

Förmörkelse starts off on the right foot with a great intro. This intro doesn’t last too long, manages to lead deftly into the first proper track and get that song’s riff stuck in your head right off the bat, and properly subjects the listener to a small flow of dark and sinister atmosphere that will eventually rise into a tidal wave that never disappears until the last note of the album. Most intro tracks deserve to be skipped, but this one succeeds in its role.

Despite that tidal wave of atmosphere, smooth sailing prevails for the first couple tracks. The opening riff on the first proper song hasn’t left my head since I first heard it and marks the high point of this release. The riffs help the first couple of tracks make the leap from mediocre to excellent black metal. The band provides all of the necessary parts for this to happen: the excellent production, the deep drumming, and the powerful production all form an undercurrent that drags these songs towards a great place. It would all be for naught if the songwriting was absent, but it shows up with excess. For now.

None of those undercurrent factors disappear throughout Förmörkelse, but my enthusiasm for them does. As the album trudges on, the quality feels like it slowly drowns beyond the ocean shelf. Despite their excellence, the first few tracks spring some leaks that never get addressed. First, they sound too similar to each other, down to the tempo and the style of the riffing. This isn’t a problem for two tracks, but as you go farther and farther into the album this tiny crack in quality widens into a chasm. Second, the early tracks tend to meander and stagnate. I don’t mind because I enjoy the waters they are meandering through. As that enjoyment wanes, so does my forgiveness for this record’s flaws.

I stopped caring about anything on this album after the fourth track. An interlude that splits up the second half of the record learns nothing from the excellent intro and provides no value to the record at all, and the actual tracks don’t fare much better. Everything slipped out of my mind like a baseball off a duck’s back. Leviathan don’t commit any grand sins to cause this, they just let their sound stagnate too much. Nothing past the first few songs comes close to matching their energy, and that one riff in the beginning remains the undisputed high point of this record. The atmosphere remains appropriately sinister, the drumming and vocals never really falter, but without the melodies to back it up this feels like an empty stage with excellent lighting.

Förmörkelse isn’t all bad. The first few tracks have forced their way into my head and don’t seem to be leaving. Even the parts of this record that I’ve been rather unhappy about contain plenty of redeeming factors. It isn’t enough for me, but die-hard black metal fans will definitely appreciate this more than I do. I’ve heard worse albums, but in a year packed with excellent black metal albums, Förmörkelse does not lead the pack. You should keep a close watch on their next release when it comes out in 2038, but until then I won’t spend too much time with Leviathan.

Rating: 5 / 10

Tracklist

  1. XVII
  2. Avgrundens Aterksken
  3. Formorkelse
  4. Svart
  5. Forbannelsen
  6. Verklighetens Vav
  7. En Tidlos Illvilja
  8. Melankolins Avja
  9. Babylons Sand
  10. Pestens Sigill

Total Playing Time: 48:15

Click here to visit Leviathan’s Bandcamp

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