Release DetailsLABEL Moribund Records
RELEASED ON 7/15/2008
A Silhouette In Splinters (Reissue)
posted on 8/2008 By:
(First a Note: I don't pretend to know anything about ambient music. But as a sincere Leviathan fan I think my opinion on this ambient record should tell black metal fans like myself what to expect).
A Silhouette In Splinters was originally released back in 2005 on vinyl and limited to 500 copies. All were quickly snatched up and now Moribund Cult has reissued the album on CD. Talk around the Massive Conspiracy Against All Life release early in the year focused on rumors about the label's demands on Wrest's contract to his Leviathan project despite a possible desire on the artist's part for Massive... to be a Lurker of Chalice release. If you went out and bought this record without knowing its history you might also think it belongs under the Leviathan moniker only contractually but under Lurker of Chalice in essence. But you'd be off, because this may not be the furious suicidal black metal that comprises the greater part of Leviathan's music, but it is an expression of the ambient interludes and intros that are definitely an important part of Leviathan's sound, a sound that is here fully explored and mined to great effect.
Recorded between 2000 and 2002, but never released, here are six dark ambient tracks that prove Wrest to be just as compelling and adept at making me feel uneasy without blastbeats and howls as he is with them. Washes of effects groan under acoustic guitars and haunting, sliding electric melodies, which is a word I mean to use very loosely. If you own any Leviathan album you know this sound from his intros and ambient interludes. Vocals only occasionally appear, as on "Particular Dis-ease" where they are spoken in a gravelly, eerie, heavily-reverbed voice that sounds entirely otherworldly, as if coming from deep space. That's a connection I make regularly listening to A Silhouette In Splinters, and that doesn't tie these songs to prog or psych-rock in the least (though I do hear touches of really tortured psychedelia at times). They are utterly transportive, carrying me far away from normalcy, deep into uncharted territory. And man, it's dark.
Notice I said songs. That's not something usually associated with ambient material, but Wrest really has written bona fide songs here, meaning the ambience works for effect and it works musically. Granted, the songs are barren and plodding and they don't twist or turn; they're more like the corpses or husks of former black metal songs, mostly decayed on the outside, but still retaining their spite, their soul. Just listen to "Shimmering With Horn of Woe" as it builds on a simple pattern and layers it to a climax before it winds down. By the end of its eight minutes you'll be surprised so much time has passed.
The title track is probably the most ambient and the least structured of the bunch here, its abrasive industrial-sounding intrusions adding to the formless chaos. But by and large, this album often has me thinking of Earth's The Bees Made Honey In The Lion's Skull, strange as that might sound. That album quietly built on desert-like soundscapes with subtle guitar effects and droning psychedelia to reach something short of catharsis but something that still struck a deep chord with me. A Silhouette In Splinters, I feel, is almost like that album's sinister cousin. Maybe it's the guitar tone that sounds awfully similar at times (see for example: "Blood Red And True Part: 2 (A Spell To Vanquish Sea Serpents)") but I see a resemblance in the restraint, the big-picture focus, the use of reverb and effects. And neither does this album ever take me to cathartic heights (or depths), but when its 48 minutes are over, I know that I have definitely been moved deeply.
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