Massive Conspiracy Against All Life

With over an hour of pleasure ahead of me, I inserted Massive Conspiracy Against All Life into my cd player, lamenting the demise of the band at the same time. I was fully prepared to bump “Shed This Skin”, “It Comes in Whispers”, “Hanged Man”, “He Whom Shadows Move Towards”, and “Ruminating in Hatemagick” from my list of best loved Leviathan pieces to make room for new ones, but after a few listens I put the disc aside for contemplation. After a few more spins over the next week I have decided to add only “Merging With Sword, Onto Them” onto my list.

 I guess this poor showing is more a testament to the power of the back catalog than a lack of quality on this one, but I was underwhelmed. Wrest went out with a very loud whimper. More atonal and discordant than ever while also being less chaotic and less hypnotic makes for a disappointing listen. The vocals are not as prominent and not as over the top anguished either, and the bass has disappeared, though the drums are vastly improved. Less of the total album time is devoted to ambient passages but more time is spent in an atonal holding pattern, sucking energy out of the songs. I often like stagnant music and I often like rhythmic dirges but with Leviathan I think of swirling chaotic soundscapes building multiple layers together creating possibly unanticipated nuances to be picked apart endlessly upon repeated listens. The poor production values never bothered me, and the improved sound on this disc does not bother me either, though curiously it does not really enhance the listening experience.

Back in 1999 Gretzky called it a day because he was not playing up to his personal standards anymore, mind you at that point there were only half a dozen players that could be considered better. In other words Gretzky was still better than some six billion other people. With Wrest a similar scenario, he puts the Leviathan project to rest because he is no longer meeting his own expectations but we still get this final offering that is superior to the vast multitudes of discs available for perusal.

The back of the promo identifies this as transcendental black metal, and even though Emerson might take exception I like that tag. Forget post black, Leviathan has ushered in transcendental black metal.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Grimulfr
July 3rd, 2008


  1. Commented by: Dan

    It seems strange to me how little press and fanfare there is around this album, considering its status as the epitaph of an artist who’s style is currently so popular. Not that Moribund is the type of label to commercially hype things into godlike status (Century Media fuck off), but I’ve barely seen it reviewed anywhere or even talked about.

  2. Commented by: Dimaension X

    Unexpected review. I really thought that this album is Wrest’s best yet. Better production (finally great sounding drums!), twisted labyrinthine song structures, less of the overdone ambient passages.

    I’m really surprised at this review. He’s really one of the best of the one-man bands (out does Malefic technically, fer sure!).

  3. Commented by: Grimulfr

    Yes better production, better drum sound and less ambient passages but I think you missed my key point. I am not saying this is a bad album or even an average album, I am saying this is not the best from Wrest but it is still superior to most everything else out there. Don’t be surprised if it makes my top ten for the year.

  4. Commented by: Dimaension X

    I get you, Grimulfr. I also think it’s a “grower” for the usual fans. We do tend to be used to the usual lo-fi sound, and have to take this album for what it is, not what we want it to sound like.

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