American one man band "Leviathan" is the project of Californian musician Jef Whitehead, often considered one of the finest "third wave" Black Metal musicians alongside Xasthur and Black Funeral. After the Norwegian scene's sound made its way across the Atlantic in the mid 90s the evolution was frighting. The Americans played down the satanic themes in favor of even darker spiritual ideas that coined the terms "Suicidal" and "Depressive" Black Metal. Although its heavily debated if there is a "third wave" there is an undeniable shift in sound and approach that separates this scene from the other. Having my curiosity sparked I went over my Leviathan collection and picked out this record which turned out to be a Black Ambient record, supposedly recorded in 2002 before the debut release of debut "The Tenth Sub Level Of Suicide".
Its dark, haunting and nervy backdrop music that starts of with fading guitar distortions that buzz and howl in and out of focus, creating a sinister setting that in its lack of intensity lures the listener in to a calm, serene mood as if staring into the abyss from safety. The guitars and distortion cautiously grow their anxieties as slow strum chords ring unsettling melodies. The danger grows nearer and ghostly rumbling vocals feature as the voice of undead spirits murmuring and groaning their pain through deep guttural talkings burred under lonely guitar leads. Into the later part of the forth track, the guitars start to fold into chilling rattle sounds that echo and brood in the deathly reverb before throwing us deep into the despairing black as the title track whips up a punishing desuetude of sound.
Howling winds morph and transform into eerie sounds of communication from beyond the grave. Alarm bells scream the oncoming dread before a calm leads us into ghostly whispers that swell in the ambiance of an atmosphere ever echoing a noise slowly collapsing in on itself. Its bone chilling audio horror painting vivid images of hell's hallways and demonic creatures of abomination. There's no climatic moment, we leave this place as if it was never there and the final track leads us home through a similar setting of mesmerizing distortions fading in and out of consciousness while acoustic guitars strum out eerie chords of warning.
"A Silhouette In Splinters" is a real audio trip for those minds that can envision the music. Its a vividly haunting and spellbound listen that can be both frighting and calming at times. Its construct and vision has both expression and design meeting on the plateau. For those interested in the technical details there are many spooky sounds that leave wonder pondering their creation, alongside some obvious guitar reverb tricks. Its a wondrous and unnerving experience that rewards the patient listener.
Favorite Track:A Silhouette In Splinters