Metal bands don’t get much more blackened and hostile than Leviathan, the one-man black metal act formed by San Francisco’s Wrest (aka Jeff Whitehead). Wrest diversifies his methods in spectacularly glum fashion with his self-titled debut as Lurker of Chalice, originally released in 2005 as a limited edition CD/double LP. Almost entirely sapped of Leviathan’s speed and aggression, Lurker of Chalice creeps out with funereal tempos and abstract masses of guitar and keyboard ambience on “Spectre As Valkerie Is” and the bonus track “Wail.”
There’s a whole range of weirdness on display — the crow caws and acoustic bolero guitar that bookend Wrest’s gurgles on “Piercing Where They Might,” the disembodied chanting that accompanies the frosty “Granite’s” frosty blastbeats –- this is not an album for black metal purists, even with its suitably lo-fi production values. But by not restricting himself to the traditional boundaries of the genre, Wrest examines depression from a very different slant than most black metal artists. Perhaps “inviting” is a little too extreme a term to describe an album as alien as Lurker of Chalice, but it’s far more diverse and listenable than most albums by Wrest’s corpse-painted contemporaries.