13 Sep 2013

Written in Torment - Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes [Full length] (2013, Glorious North Productions)

One would hardly expect an anti-christian black metal band to emerge from a town as scenic and pittoresque as Harrogate, England. This is nonetheless the place from which Written in Torment hails, and considering it rains more or less half the year in the UK maybe it isn't that far fetched. Mike Hardisty working under the name "Leviathan" taken from the biblical sea creature created Written in Torment in 2003 and has since worked more or less alone on the project. The first demo, Written in Torment, was released in 2006 followed by The Uncreation EP a few months later, which some reviewers and fans hold in high regard. Whilst not going on a hiatus per se it wouldn't be until 2013 before new songs were heard from the one-man project.

Released in the sunny month of May there is a stark constrast right off the bat from the cold black metal style of Leviathan's music on Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes, or "the war of all against all". The name comes from two books by Thomas Hobbes entitled De Cive from 1642 and Leviathan from 1651, Hardisty's stagename perhaps being a reference to the book's title.

The 2013 album - released by Glorious North Productions, a label specializing in black metal - has a strikingly good production. Every aspect of the album seems judiciously well-thought out, and the melodic guitar parts and solos are what stand out the most. These parts have a certain British feeling to them, resembling especially bands like Bal-Sagoth, albeit without the overtly symphonic aspects. A song such as Beast of the Depths, a direct reference to the Leviathan creature, and Grief especially showcase Hardisty's writing abilities, and the album generally seems to betray the traditional black metal practices in favour of elements from thrash, death and other subgenres.

Though the music on Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes primarily features cold black metal with tendencies toward the melodic aspects of bands like Emperor, there is still left room for experimentation, and a transition between chilling black metal tremolos to the glorious warmth of well-accomplished guitar melodies and soli isn't all that rare on the album.

A great deal of the strength of Written in Torment's album lies with the amount of variation on this journey through the history of the suffering of man. Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes features themes of war, biblical travesties and hardships, relating perfectly to the music itself. The debut is ripe with immersive riffing and thoughtful drumming and compositions, and the only real issue is the length of the songs and the album as a result of that. Bellum Omnium... is comprised of 10 songs, all of which are almost 5 minutes or more in length. It's not too big a deal considering the quality of the tracks, and the flow of the album as a whole is impressive, but listening to an album for an hour - variety put aside - can get tedious at times, especially with so much going on as on Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes. You have to concentrate while listening to Written in Torment, because missing any of Leviathan's dazzling compositions would be a sin! 9/10 guitars.

1. Earth Decimated
2. Eternities Suffering Endured
3. Beast of the Depths
4. Descent Into Total Madness
5. O' Fortuna
6. Grief
7. Solitude
8. Behold the Trinity Maimed and Rotten
9. A Pig Hung in Golgotha
10. Necessary Evil

Written in Torment official facebook
Glorious North Productions official site

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