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Mastodon - Leviathan CD (album) cover

LEVIATHAN

Mastodon

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.86 | 261 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

WestDC
4 stars I love this album, I really do. But not as a prog album; as a heavy metal album. That's not to say this album isn't prog - it most certainly is, it's just to say that the heavy metal aspects outweigh the prog aspects.

Leviathan is a pseudo-concept album. That is, it's lyrical content is loosely based off Herman Melville's Moby Dick. The instrumentation takes a step in the direction of Moby Dick, too. At times, the music seems as though it's based in the middle of an epic sea battle, or when the whale is being speared. It's atmospheric.

The Track Listing:

1. Blood and Thunder.

Heavy rocking intro to Leviathan. A standout on the album, but unfortunately doesn't feature many prog elements. The song structure is fairly simple for example. However, the quality of musicianship on this track is high, especially for the drummer Brann Dailor.

2. I Am Ahab.

Again lacking in the progressive song structure. Howeverm, it does feature some interesting riffs and time passages so can be fun to listen to.

3. Seabeast.

This song especially provides imagery (to me, at least) towards sailing in the deep dark ocean. I get the impression that the conditions alternate between calm and rough in the verses. Thehe lyrics make direct reference to Moby Dick and it's interesting to listen to (if you can decipher them that is ;) ).

4. Island.

Absolutely indeceipherable lyrics and personally a bit of a let-down track for me. Not a favourite. But as with all songs on Leviathan it features some truly awesome guitar and drums work.

5. Iron Tusk.

Stand-out track for sure. This is the surely the some sort of battle scene and is one of the heaviest tracks on the album. To put it bluntly, Iron Tusk is an absolutely kick arse song. The drum intro by Brann Dailor is the greatest possible intro the band could've come up with to a song like this. Despite the brutality, Mastodon manage to include some great lyrical content in, too. Lyrics such as... "Straight line Feel it burst liver and lung Long and strong 'Til she spills her black blood Center down Vast the head body and tail Shatter life Physeter catodon" ...only inspire confidence in the band.

6. Megalodon.

Halfway through Megalodon there is some sort of American country-western inspired interlude that, in my opinion, doesn't work with the rest of the song AT ALL. It's a great song, to be sure, but this interlude termporarily ruins the feel of the song and totally disconnects the listener from the fantatstic atmosphere that was there previously. Some might call this interlude a prog-like thing to do, but I simply think it doesn't work. But otherwise it's a great song right up to the standards of the rest of the song.

7. Naked Burn.

Great intro to the song, with the guitars doing their fancy jumpy riff while the bass feedback slowly comes in... it's a tense moment, and very difficult to predict the exact moment when the first note on the bass will arrive. Naked Burn seems like more of a heartfelt song than the rest of Leviathan, but still features many of the great drum technicalities and interesting guitar parts we've come to know, love and expect from Mastodon - it's just that they take the backseat in this song.

8. Aqua Dementia.

The intro to Aqua Dementia hints at the kind of complex riffs in strange tune signatures we'd come to see in Blood Mountain. Otherwise, this song doesn't seem as strong as the rest of the album, and I also fail to see the parallel between the lyrics and Moby Dick (probably because I haven't read the book). The end features the sound of the ocean on a beach leading in to....

9. Hearts Alive.

All the prog aspects that might've seemed missing in the previous parts of Leviathan are more than made up for in this song. This 13 and a half minute epic is one of the best progressive metal songs I know. The slow and delayed guitar work backed up by the ever-powerful drumming is just captivating and truly sets the mood before, at around 2 minutes in, the real heavy metal stuff comes in and sets the song going. Hearts Alive features some of the most captivating guitar and drum partnership music I have ever heard. It just works so flawlessly. I feel that Hearts Alive captures the imagery of the vastness of the ocean so well it's a truly epic song.

10. Joseph Merrick (instrumental)

Wikipedia states that Mastodon have ended each of their past three albums with a track about the Elephant Man: Leviathan's "Joseph Merrick", Remission's, "Elephant Man", and Blood Mountain's "Pendulous Skin". Joseph Merrick is mostly an acoustic song and is truly prog. It's hard to describe in that I've never heard anything similar to it. It creates a somewhat mysterious mood and slowly builds upon it. Yes, it's very hard to describe.

I'm going to give Leviathan 4 stars. I feel that as an album it deserves 5, but as a prog album it's not quite there. This is a REALLY good album but as this is a review in relation to prog I simply can't give it the extra mark. Buy it. For Great Justice!

WestDC | 4/5 |

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