Lurker of Chalice is the blackened fetus of Wrest, the madman behind Leviathan, Twilight and most recently, a contributing member to Sunn 0))). This is a solo vessel through which he explores a bleaker psych, doom, black metal domain?interesting considering he?s pretty much taken black metal in every possible direction under the Leviathan name. Like fellow soldier-at-arms Malefic of Xasthur, Wrest infuses his necrotic fixations with taut experimentation and weird sonic constructions that easily exceed black metal?s frosty expectations of faster and blacker while somehow completely embodying them at the same time.
The defining element in black metal is arguably the vocals. These artists tend to step away from the cookie monster growls and indecipherable groans of death metal towards a raspier ghoulish wail. With Lurker of Chalice, Wrest has summoned a most decrepit timbre that lands between both extremes, sounding like a cross between a dying boar and a broken garbage disposal. This can be heard in the scorched nightmare of ?Piercing Where They Might,? which opens with a somber guitar melody and processed crow squawks before shifting into a windstorm of overdriven riff-death of a black haze of rumbling distortion and buried percussion. The effect is incredible, and the production alone is the ultimate for this sort of thing. I even admit to playing it over and over like some sacrificial lamb hypnotized by the executioner?s blade.
?Spectre as Valkerie Is? and ?Minions? both feature thick slabs of globular distortion billowing under more reverb drenched incantations, continuously straddling the line between drone meditation and nightmarish dread. ?Minions,? in particular, comes off like a more gothic Burzum, building from bleak isolationist drones a la Lustmord to crushing downtuned riffs with archaic synth shrieking through the maelstrom. ?This Blood Falls as Mortal Part III? further smothers all hope with suicidal fem spoken word giving way to a mournful prog jam--not exactly the stuff of Disney soundtracks! Album closer ?Fastened to the Five Points,? reminds the listener just where Wrest is coming from, and it?s pretty far down.
Throughout, the production adheres to the raw tradition of the Scandinavian church burning variety, but at the same time Wrest exposes just how broad the aural spectrum between gray and black can be with an injection of moody instrumental workouts. This inclination towards prog/psych arrangements suggests he might even own a Subarachnoid Space album or two, not really such a stretch when you consider it. I hesitate to call any of this album pretty, but there are more than a few hypnotic glints refracted from its black surface. 8/10 -- Lee Jackson (31 October, 2005)