Reviewed: October 2020
Released: 2020, Self-released
Reviewer: Kira Levine
Following up last year’s Legacy, Russia’s Second To Sun have returned with Leviathan. Influenced by the black metal scene in Scandinavia, the quartet have created nine sublime slabs that undeniably cross over into other sub-genres.
A statement from the band:
“Ever prolific and consistently ferocious, Russian metal stalwarts Second To Sun will release new album Leviathan on September 29. The follow-up to 2019’s raging Legacy, itself a game changer, the new album finds the band firing on all cylinders! … Leviathan stuns the senses and annihilates tranquility through eight masterfully composed tracks that are musically inspired by the most lethal Scandinavian Black Metal. The sound is once again engineered, mixed, and master for maximum aural devastation by guitarist/songwriter Vladimir Lehtinen. Album artwork comes courtesy of Alexander Shadrin. Feel the burn and revel in the pain!”
Front-runner and first single ‘Eerie’ is the longest song on Leviathan, which gives the Vladimir’s riff-work room to mutate as the music progresses. The atmospheric elements heard here work well together with Gleb’s vocal and heighten the other-worldly mood that is created.
Theodor’s steady drumming in ‘Marsch der Wölfe’ commands a welcomed sinister vibe, also reflecting the title well. The band use this slower point in the record to gradually build suspense for what is to come in the next several tracks. The haunting outro is a fantastic touch.
‘The Emperor in Hell’ holds many melodic moments, while not sacrificing the aggression that gives Leviathan its strongest point. The rhythm section shines in the quieter sections, Max’s bass-work and the drums working together in a similar fashion to the previous track.
Sound bites make an appearance on ‘I Psychoanalyze My Ghosts’, the second single on the release. They offer a narrative component that really helps drive the song along and offers some diversity vocally. The soft tones of the keys featured here complement the abrasiveness of the other instruments.
Midway through Leviathan is ‘Shaitan’, a rage-fuelled explosion. “If you do not think about the future, you cannot have one. Praise Shaitan!” are the words of the band’s mastermind Vladimir Lehtinen in their press release. Track five is one of the rawer, more anarchic songs that lends itself the most to black metal on the album.
‘The Engraving of Gustave Doré’ sees Second To Sun bring to life the work of the French artist, transporting the listener into a scene from one of his illustrations. The atmospheric ending adds a cinematic layer to the aurally disturbing track.
Ethereal soundscapes are revisited in the shortest track on the record, instrumental ‘Black Death, Spirits, and Werewolves’. it provides a calm before the storm at the end of the record.
No holds are barred on title track ‘Leviathan’. The guitars seem more frenzied here than anywhere else, with blast beats heightening the chaos where they are present. Much like ‘Shaitan,’ the penultimate offering utilises repetition to devastating effect.
‘November’, the album closer, brings together all the stellar moments from its predecessors. While being the second shortest chapter on Leviathan, it still manages to be one of the most eventful.
Second To Sun have a powerful sonic presence, conveying emotion that transcends what can be understood in any spoken language. The predominantly English song titles will give international listeners a good idea of the album’s lyrical content (mythology and occultism). With ominous instrumentation and vehement vocals, Leviathan definitely lives up to its name.