Mastodon - Leviathanle·vi·a·than: A monstrous sea creature mentioned in the Bible
Ah. Mastodon. A band that already impressed me alot with their previous full-lenght, Remission. That cd already showed us they are a band with their own style: technical, odd, but still a good feel for flow and groove. And I dont mean "Meshuggah"-technical and "The Dillinger Escape Plan"-odd, but the band has more in common with the old progrock bands from the 70ies. Drummer Brann Dailor and guitarist-vocalist Bill Kelliher previously played together in Lethargy, a band that was famed for its technical complex music.
Leviathan has thematically much in common with a concept disc. Most lyrics are centered around the story of the white whale Moby Dick, and his hunter, captain Ahab. This story from Herman Melville can be interpreted in numerous ways. Some mention man versus nature or good versus evil. Others see the land opposed to the sea or Fate opposed to free will. If you are familiar with the story, you could also say its about a man that is so obsessed with something that he is slowly going insane.
I think I can only describe the band's style as a mix of stoner-like, oftenly hypnotizing metalriffs, some very technical drumming, and like I said earlier, progrock songstructures and twists. Its hard to say something about the vocal style..some searching around resulted in "hardcore scream and a gruff semi-death style".
"Megalodon" is definitly one of my favorite tracks. Can you name any other band who can put an almost corny country guitarbreak in the middle of a tune before erupting in some heavy riffing? And actually make it sound good? The song "Aqua Dementia" also features Neurosis frontman Scott Kelly on guest vocals. The track "Hearts Alive" is a 13 minute epic, that starts with a slow intro. And is it me or does anyone else hear a little nod to Metallica's "Call of Ktulu" in it?
The semi-acoustic closer of the disc, "Joseph Merrick" is an almost soundtrack-like song that wouldnt be out of place on a postrock cd. It almost sounds like its meant to be background music to chill out on after the ride trough the cd. For those who are interested, Joseph Merrick is also known as the Elephant Man. I dont really know what what he has to do with the "Leviathan" context though. Maybe the fact that someone who looks and gets hunted upon like a beast can be a man, but a man like Ahab was basically a beast.
Mastodon's Leviathan is a disc that isnt meant for people who like their music to be easy and digestible. This album is literally a beast, and it might take a few spins to get really hooked on it. Its nice to see that some attention has been paid to the artwork as well, the booklet is full of beautiful images of "seamonsters" and related subjects.
But my verdict? Brilliant! Every self-respecting metalfan should get this disc because you will have to look really hard to find a band that has such a great sound of their own. This is what innovative metal should be in my opinion!
01 - Blood and Thunder
02 - I Am Ahab
03 - Seabeast
04 - Island
05 - Iron Tusk
06 - Megalodon
07 - Naked Burn
08 - Aqua Dementia
09 - Hearts Alive
10 - Joseph Merrick
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