Leiþa – Sisyphus
Release Date: 25/06/2021
Running Time: 37:12
Review by Dark Juan
Good afternoon, my nihilistic horde of bitches, bastards and buggers! It is I, Dark Juan, once more obliging you to read a whole load of fucking nonsense masquerading as a) a record review, and b) wisdom, with shit that only I find amusing thrown in for good measure. I trust you are all grafting merrily away at whatever coalface that represents your career now we are finally out of COVID prison, with joy and carefree abandon bursting out of your grateful, hardworking and God-fearing hearts? Excellent. All is not well at Dark Juan Terrace. The Mighty Gothikpanzer has decided that it should reduce the wiper mechanism down to its component parts. In the rain, at 70mph on the M62 just near the Little House On The Prairie. This, as you can imagine, caused me to utterly ruin my trousers with an entirely different substance than sex wee, and an imprecation or two MAY have been uttered while I was busily shitting myself. The upshot is I have borrowed the car of my daughter in law, which has been christened the Leichtes Gothikpanzer because it is small and black, until I can fit a new wiper mechanism to the Mighty Gothikpanzer. This has put me in a somewhat dark frame of mind…
Which is a bonus for you lot out there as it puts me in just the right mode to appreciate the album entitled “Sisyphus”, by German band Leiþa. Leiþa is apparently the old Germanic word that equates to suffering, and the album is about, in the words of Leiþa mastermind Noise,
“This album came to life as a result of doubt and self-loathing. That pale face that stares right back at you morning after morning from the reflection of your mirror as it displays the miserable outcome of your own existence onto yourself. The bitter taste of bile and cigarette ash you inherit following yet another day trapped in the eternal vicious circle of a worthless existence.
It is those moments of certainty that spit at you in the face with a blend of disgust and resistance.
In moments exactly like that, be sure of just one thing: You are not the only one.”
Truly a man after my own heart, then. He makes depressive, jazz and prog influenced black metal; I write banal shite that I fool myself is popular. Kindred fucking spirits then! Both of us feel the need to perform to exorcise demons…
The record is a very strange beast indeed. The sound is unusual insofar as it sounds like a black metal record yet it doesn’t have the usual homegrown, recorded three miles away from a microphone made out of a fucking cucumber and baling twine sound that BM usually employs. The sound is clear, the instruments all distinct and easy to hear and the drumming speedy and precise (ably provided by session drummer Noderra, according to the blurb I have in front of me). The band appear to have taken Emperor’s “IX Equilibrium” as a starting point for their sound and to be honest, it’s all a bit samey. The record starts with a few black metal insane speed songs but then settles down into a kind of mid-tempo plod where Noise can show off his admittedly supreme guitar skills, but imagine “The Loss And Curse Of Reverence” slowed down by a third and given a proper production, and with vocals by Shagrath instead of Ihsahn and you have ably grasped the sound of Leiþa. It does have a strong emotional component, though, this record, that drips throughout the music, and it is primarily ultra-misanthropic hatred. It oozes from the pores of the album and it is bitter and foul-tasting and stinks of loneliness and sorrow and endless, black misery, punctuated by bouts of either naked, atavistic savagery or hysterical, tear-streaked, screaming emotional agony. The opening song (and title track) ‘Sisyphus’ sets the store for the record by offering some choppy, chiming riffing before the song explodes into a full-bore assault upon the senses. Second track ‘Endlos’ has a brief intro which actually had me giggling because it quite remarkably resembles the start of ‘Turning Japanese’ by The Vapors, no doubt unintentionally. Actually, I kind of do hope that it was on purpose, because it would accurately resemble that stage of sorrow and pain where something insignificant just starts you laughing hysterically and you have no idea why and can’t stop and you know that it’s stupid but the laughing just keeps on coming and you’re making an arse of yourself and you can feel the SHAME AND RAGE GROWING YET STILL YOU LAUGH LIKE A DEMENTED FREAK UNTIL YOUR NERVE SNAPS, and you run from the room hiding your shame-filled and tear streaked face and seek solace in the darkest room in your home away from all of the jeering, judgmental bastards out there…
Do you know what? First impressions don’t count for shit with this record. Remember up there when I said it was all a bit samey? It appears I may have been wrong. Leiþa have provoked a very strong emotional reaction in me. This is an album of many shades of black, from the washed out black of old t-shirts and worn, sun-bleached drapery, to the luxuriousness and opulence of black velvet hangings and gorgeous goth gowns on equally gorgeous goth ladies, eventually to the pure black, absolute-zero waste that is space, the one place in the universe where all hope is gone. This record is musical entropy in action, and it is also far more brilliant than I thought it was on the first listen. I just wish I could understand what Noise is howling about, as it is a German language release and the black metal banshee vocal style makes it difficult to hear any discernible syllabification. It doesn’t really help that all the German I know has been taught to me by Rammstein and Laibach.
Alrighty then – The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Das patentierte Dark Juan Blutspritzer-Bewertungssystem) can’t help itself and awards Leiþa the full cream, full fat 10/10 for a record that really, truly rewards repeated listens, such is the delicacy of some of the songwriting and music. There are some staggering moments of bleak beauty on this record.
(With helpful translations courtesy of Google Translate, so they are probably wrong)
02. Endlos (Endless)
03. Sterben um zu sterben (To Die, To Die)
04. Gib mir Heimat (Give Me Home)
05. Mühsal (Hardship)
07. Der Feind lebt in mir (The Enemy Lives In Me)
08. Töte dich (Kill You)
Noise – Everything apart from the drums
Noderra – Session drums
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