I’ve seen black metal from the United States get a bad rap many times, and each time, I’ve yet to hear a coherent reason. What I surmise is that because the social conditions that birthed black metal in Scandinavia (cultural homogeneity, shitloads of money, low crime rates, and many others) did not exist in the United States, USBM is seen as ingenue. Well, could have fooled me. USBM is stronger than ever. When I think of my favorite bands in all of black metal, it’s hard to not consider Chaos Moon, Mare Cognitum, Xasthur, Yellow Eyes, and a few others as candidates for the top of the heap. And then, amongst them, is the greatest (in my opinion) USBM “band” of all; Leviathan, the twisted brainchild of Jef Whitehead.
After a long and prolific career, and a slight let down with True Traitor, True Whore, I had little faith Leviathan would ever make another perfect record. Boy was I fucking wrong. The album starts off with a brief intro, then goes into the heaviest, most death metal riff Wrest has ever written. And boy does it work.
It’s unrelenting from there, with the only room to breathe occurring in small spurts of atmospheric parts reminiscent of Whitehead’s work on Lurker of Chalice. This is an ugly album, a heavy album, but not in the sense of Leviathan’s other work. Sure, there’s a lot of callbacks to albums such as Tentacles of Whorror, or Massive Conspiracy Against All Life, but there’s something here that wasn’t there before, and it comes through as just a crushingly heavy facet to Scar Sighted. I’ve never wanted to lift weights to a Leviathan album before this.
When I think of my favorite black metal, a genre of which I am quite fond, of all time, Scar Sighted is quick to the top of the list. It is my favorite USBM album, and a high water mark for both our country’s contribution to the genre, and the whole genre itself.