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Mastodon - Leviathan CD (album) cover

LEVIATHAN

Mastodon

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.87 | 267 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

heyitsthatguy
3 stars A Whale of an Album, or an excuse to make that pun?

Either way, Mastodon's sophomore release doesn't hit the sophomore slump in the least. What we have here is some great metal with a few progressive tendencies that show they are growing as a band. The seeds of prog metal have been planted here: a lyrical concept about the Herman Melville novel, "Moby Dick," and experimentation with time signatures and nontraditional songwriting. Now, to the songs.

Blood and Thunder- kicks off the album with a bang, with the opening lines "I think that someone is trying to kill me!" overtop the pounding metallic riff, introducing the concept of the album with the chorus in four simple words: "White! Whale! Holy! Grail!" 9/10

I Am Ahab- another high energy track, not very progressive but a hard rocker nonetheless. Not as strong as the opener but a decent song nonetheless. Brann Dailor shows off his drum skills throughout, proving he's currently one of the better drummers in metal- 7/10

Seabeast- starts off with a very ominous clean beginning, it also features the first actual singing vocals in the album, which sound somewhat one dimensional but obviously with a band like this, the vocals are not the primary focus. This is also the first track that hints at progressive tendencies, including a few meter changes at the end and some oddly timed riffs that reminds me vaguely of Tool. 8/10

Island- the most straight up metal song on the entire album, not one of their stronger songs. Possibly the weakest track on the album, though the bridge features some interesting parts, including some dissonant riffs and a decent solo. However, the main body of the song isn't very impressive. 6/10

Iron Tusk- After a slightly irritating intro, this song gets going up until the middle section which features some whole tone based harmonies which sound quite strange, as well as even more dissonance in a final section including tritone chords. 7/10

Megalodon- the first track on the album that could be considered fully "prog metal", the beginning and end sound nothing alike. Starting with some strange clean guitar similar to Seabeast, the song kicks into a heavier, faster section with frantic screaming. A brief (and slightly out of place, though the band probably knew this and typically exhibit a sense of humor about their music) section and they break into full on thrash, reminiscent of the latter section of "Welcome Home" by Metallica. A few sections go by and all the members have their skills on display, though it doesn't turn into self-indulgence in the least. 9/10

Naked Burn- The second track to feature singing, this time much more melodic and full. Mastodon has the strange ability to make oddly metered sections sound very normal and not out of place, and vice versa, something that few bands (such as Radiohead and Tool) can achieve. The chorus for me is epic, yet somewhat reminiscent of their latest single from their most recent release, "Colony of Birchmen". 8/10

Aqua Dementia- sadly, another weak track. This one starts off strong, with some quick guitar runs, but quickly falls into a stereotypical modern death metal style song. Scott Kelley of Neurosis fame stops in for vocals over an uncharacteristic sounding swung section with some jazzy chords, though it doesn't work as well as the country bit in Megalodon did. 6/10

Hearts Alive- a progressive epic that sadly goes on a bit too long at the end, but a fantastic song nonetheless. It slowly builds at the beginning, kicking into a higher gear at about a minute and a half in. I love everything about this song except some of the vocals and the fact that it sounds like they should've faded it out about 2 or so minutes before it actually ends. However, the last section isn't without its uses, and features some great soloing. Again, just too long. 9/10

Joseph Merrick- the instrumental of the album, titled after the infamous Elephant Man (Mastodon has one of these per album). If you hate metal, this is your payoff at the end. Purely prog rock sounding (it even opens with very similar chords to that of "And You And I" by yes, and some organ. You wouldn't believe it's even on the same album as such brutal tracks as Blood and Thunder or Island.

So, while not exactly that progressive, this album shows a period of transition for the band which would be further developed upon in Blood Mountain. A good addition to a metal lover's prog rock collection, but hardly essential.

heyitsthatguy | 3/5 |

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