Release Date: Mar 3, 2015
Record label: Profound Lore
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal, Death Metal, Black Metal
Review Summary: The first truly great Leviathan album stands heads and shoulders above the wrest.Jeff Whitehead (Wrest) may not have given US black metal a name, but he did give it a voice. Slinking under the noses of outlier genre fans, his influence has been muted by other acts that have been deemed household names. By now the success and praise of black metal progenitors Weakling has been written in stone, with the west coast group being deemed the founders of the regional sound.
Four years after controversial turmoil in his private life resulted in a self-described "sloppy" fifth album, Jef Whitehead -- known in the black metal world as Leviathan -- returns with Scar Sighted (Profound Lore), a terrifying sonic assault of dread and brutality. On the surface, the album is an overwhelmingly dark exercise in horror, yet it's just a mask covering the immense pain at the core, the sound of a soul obliterated in an atomic blast. Guitars slash and cut and drums pummel with an almost cartoonish heft, but Whitehead's vocals provide the most goosebumps.
If you don’t subscribe to the controversies engendered by heavy metal magazine covers in 2015, here’s a recap of the drama with Decibel No. 125: Four years ago, Chicago police charged and tried Jef Whitehead for allegedly choking, beating, stabbing, and raping his then-girlfriend and leaving her overnight outside of the tattoo shop where he’d been working. As reported, the incident seemed disturbing enough, but even more so because it actualized a decade-plus of Whitehead’s lyrical and musical malevolence.
There is a strong urge to let the news around the personal life of multi-instrumentalist Jef Whitehead (aka Wrest) diminish the value of the twisted, unforgiving and staunchly provocative art he creates at the head of USBM, as the mastermind of Leviathan. Ultimately, this can be seen as a completely natural, human response to someone who was cast into the wider public eye four years ago when he was charged by Chicago police and tried by for domestic abuse and sexual assault of his then-girlfriend. The reality of the situation was that while Whitehead faced thirty-four serious charges due to the alleged altercation at his tattoo shop, thirty charges were dismissed and he was cleared of all but one of the remaining charges; which, of course, he still disputes.