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Mastodon - Leviathan CD (album) cover



Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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5 stars Leviathan, Mastodon's second full length album catches the band at a perfect balance between creativity and down-right rocking awesomeness. This is just one of those albums, that for me, is the purest music possibble, in that it manages to progress music without the slightest evidence of pretention. The music can be described as sludgy, thrashy and at times even bluesy. The boy's from Atlanta also wear their southern rock influences on their sleeves as perfectly demonstrated during a country lick out of nowhere in Megalodon which immediately does a 180 and segues into one of the most intense moments of the album. The album finally climaxes with the epic Hearts Alive which moves effortlessly from idea to idea until it reaches a giutar solo of pure blues/metal genius. If you like metal of any kind don't hesitate to pick up Leviathan. I'd stay away though if anything above 50 decibel's makes you cringe.
Report this review (#93536)
Posted Thursday, October 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a great album, easily deserving of 5 stars even though Blood Mountain is superior. If you don't like metal music that competely pounds you into submission, you won't like this album. That said, if you're a fan of VERY heavy metal, and can withstand the onslaught, this is for you. You will be treated with a high level of musicianship on all levels (check out Brann, the jaw-droppingly good drummer). One other thing: they mostly use a yell/growl style of vocal. Sort of like death metal, but not really. If that sort of thing turns you off, this is not the album for you.

If you see my review of Blood Mountain, you'll notice that while I obviously love that album, there are two things that I perceive as flaws within it. The cool thing about Leviathan is that there are no such flaws that I see. The reason why I think Blood Mountain is better is simple: in general, the band sounds more mature and confident on that record. Still, get Leviathan, it's proggy metal at its best. Oh, and the lyrics and general concept of the album are well-done.

Report this review (#93692)
Posted Saturday, October 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Leviathan is the second album from metalcore masters Mastodon. Hailing from my hometwon, Atlanta, these boys have leaped to the top of the metal movement over the last few years; even Rolling Stone has to acknowledge their talent. This album is a pseudo- concept, with some of teh songs dealing with Herman Melville's Moby Dick. The album brims with energy, though those put off by the heavy stuff beware. The band is anchored by wonder drummer Brann Dailor, who is one of the foremost drummers in metal. He brings a jazzy element to the fold, which combines seamlessly with the band's thrash, blues, and tradtional metal.

Songs like "Megaladon" stop on a dime a go off in a completely different direction. The screaming vocals may put off fans of, well, singing, but fans of Opeth will find a lot to love here. "Blood and Thunder," "Megaladon," "Iron Tusk," and the lengthy "Hearts Alive" are the highlights of the album, with some gut wrenching turns.

Overall, Leviathan is very strong and is perfect for fans of Opeth, Mesuggah, and the like. Brann Dailor's inventive percussion is worth whatever price you pay for it.

Grade: B

Report this review (#104112)
Posted Thursday, December 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars While Mastodon's latest Blood Mountain is their best, their second album Leviathan from 2004 isn't far behind. Leviathan is a concept album based on Moby Dick. A very progressive idea and theme but one that has surprisingly clicked with the mainstream metal audience.

Leviathan is the album that gained the band worldwide attention, with the label of the 'new Metallica' being thrust upon them. A lot of pressure for the young band, but pressure that the band has thrived on making the most exciting music in metal.

Stand out tracks include 'Blood and Thunder' and 'Iron Tusk', both songs containing the best riffs I have heard since early 90s Pantera. But the masterpiece of this album in the 13 minute epic 'Hearts Alive', this is Mastodon at their most progressive. Absolutely brilliant.

Report this review (#104560)
Posted Tuesday, December 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
King of Loss
2 stars This was Mastodon's 2nd release, at least in my books, but Mastodon's Leviathan is neither Progressive or Progressive Metal.

Even though, this band is an interesting form of Metal, it does not succeed in convincing me that it is Progressive at all.

1. It has neither the sound or the content of most Progressive/Progressive Metal bands such as Dream Theater or Pain Of Salvation. It has neither the virtuosity of Dream Theater or the dynamic nature of Daniel Gildenlow's Pain Of Salvation. The 13 minute epic does not sound remotely Progressive, but it is pretty good by its Alternative Metal outlines.

2. What kind of Progressive Metal band slams another of its colleague? Even though, some of the old school Progressive Metal members have slammed recent Prog Metal bands as being keyboard metal bands, Mastodon are anything but old. They are new to the Metal scene and not old school Progressive Metal, or anything but Progressive.

3. When do Progressive Metal bands have regressive sounding music? I do not know.

This album might be good on another level, such as the level that it deserves to be in: metalcore, alternative metal, sludge or such. Much like Death and some of the Metal bands on this site, this band is not Progressive. It might be closer than Death, but its song structure nor its musical styling sounds remotely close to being Progressive. So, for more Progressive audiences, this album is a big thumbs down. If you are a fan of Metal, then try this album, but it is far from being up to the calibur of an album such as Blind Guardian- Imaginations from the Other Side. For sludge, this album really isn't bad, but they should not be on Progarchives.

Report this review (#105217)
Posted Monday, January 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
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!

Report this review (#105493)
Posted Thursday, January 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
2 stars I was completely let down by this very overrated release. Mastadon's reputation suggests some serious artistic metal, while not necessarily falling into the "prog" category. What I found was a loud and unimaginative mess; there is little of substance here beyond the gimmick of the album's literary inspiration.

Instrumentally, the band isn't bad-- but they don't come close to the type of virtuosity prevalent in the genre. Once needn't look hard to find more dynamic musicians doing more interesting things with their instruments. Moreover, the songwriting is very repetitive, with the band taking very few moments that demonstrate any kind of versatility. It's all loud, all the time... it's too bad that Mastadon's loud is just boring. Compare to other metal bands which compose slow, or softer songs intermixed with their heavy ones-- which punctuates the intensity more than straight-ahead rocking.

However, the main detraction is the very weak growling, which sounds anemic when set aside the chugging guitars and drums. Mastadon should find ways to accommodate the singer's voice or jettison the growling altogether; it doesn't get the job done.

The final word is that there isn't anything on this album that isn't done better elsewhere. Songwriting: 2 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 2 Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

Report this review (#116470)
Posted Tuesday, March 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Believe the hype......Best album from 2004

Leviathan was my first meeting with Mastodon and I was dazzeled after the first listen. The drumming is so near perfect. My first thought was that this was an mix between Slayer and Metallica (first 4 albums). The riffs are powerful and the drumming is fantastic. They mix thrash metal with heavy metal with progmetal with hardcore with sludge..

I often find my self just listening to the drumming on this album, just focusing on it, trying to listen where its goingl. It lives it own life and its not there just the keep the beat.

On tracks like the blistering "I Am Ahab", the band revels in one of its most tightly structured offerings to date, showing precision and patience roaring with power chords and drummer Brann Dailor's mastery of playing both within and around the groove. Their confidence is such that they're quite capable of building an awesome wall of drone and harmony and then getting the [%*!#] of its way. Less is more.....

The album comes to a mesmerizing climax on the nearly 14-minute epic "Hearts Alive", a classic progressive metal track in every way. Highly reccomended

The cover of this album is infact what made me interested in listening to it. Its a great cover design that caught my attention. It also sets the mood of the music and tells the concept behind it. Many songs is about the ocean, whales and Moby Dick. Just like the cover.

Leviathan is a record that demands several listens to fully appreciate.


Report this review (#121250)
Posted Tuesday, May 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars The best mastodon album in my opinion. Among all prog metal its definitly different..but still better than mainstream sound. Brann Dailor said one of his favorite albums is " The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" and the influence shows great in his music. Iron Tusk even sounds a little bit like The Colony Of Slippermen. Hearts Alive has a great sound to it. Blood and Thunder pulls you right in. Maybe not a prog essential. but def a prog metal must have!!
Report this review (#129544)
Posted Friday, July 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars I picked up this album on a whim because it looked interesting and I am a sucker for ocean music. After many listens, I feel qualified to review it. Among the legions of modern metal bands, it's hard for any one to stand out, but Mastodon does a pretty good job. Their sound is distinctive and their songwriting is strong. Some have criticized them because they are not as overtly virtuosic as many other metal bands, but I don't see why that should matter. Virtuosity for its own sake can certainly detract from the music, and Mastodon does not fall into that trap, instead choosing to create a record filled with gloriously heavy odes to Moby Dick. Iron Tusk is the most driving, and arguably most rocking song on the album, and there's no denying that if you're into metal you will enjoy this headbanging rocker. There is also plenty of great oceanic vibes, especially in the epic Hearts Alive, another album highlight. The album closer, Joseph Merrick, is a bit of a surprise, being a low key instrumental, but it is quite nice as a cooldown after the sheer heaviness that comes before. A wholly enjoyable metal album and a worthy edition to any metal collection.
Report this review (#130864)
Posted Monday, July 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#135402)
Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars A good but by no means excellent metal album with only the very faintest whiff of progressiveness about it, 'Leviathan' is a tale of man against beast. There are no sublime moments here (nothing like 'Sleeping Giant' from 'Blood Mountain), just honest, competent metalcore with outstanding drumming. But a great drummer doesn't make a great album. The singing, for all that it consists mostly of growls, is surprisingly recessive. There's very little of it, and what there is tends to pass the listener by.

Don't be fooled by the presence of a 13 minute song here. It's a good track, but is an extended metal piece. The other tracks are all short, riff-heavy and rhythmical, but the song writing here is tepid at best. MASTODON need to find that creative spark to lft them into prominence - otherwise they'll continue to open for bands like DRAGONFORCE. On 'Blood Mountain', the album folowing this, they make tentative steps, including making far better use of the vocals, but there's no call to rush out and buy this. As for comparing this to OPETH, well, this is nice and all that, but it's simply not in the same league.

Report this review (#137725)
Posted Tuesday, September 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Now HERE's a golliath of a metal album.

An excellent purchase by all means, this massive, epic sounding metal album is bliss to the ears, and a milestone in the modern metal scene.

Blood and Thunder opens the doors to a dark, scary, and mythical word of sweeping riffs that fit together like the world itself. All musicianship is brilliant, the riffage is brilliant and the percussion is frantic. Most important of all, the music and fantasy driven vocals work, and it works well.

Each track is exciting (even the lighter acoustic parts of just a few songs).

Mastodon is a metal band to keep an eye on (and with Blood Mountain, they proove that they are a metal power to be hailed by all)

get this album if you like metal, progressive might be a stretch, but i think the brooding guitar parts and odd guitar riffs are complex enough to put this album in the progressive history books.

Report this review (#142812)
Posted Monday, October 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Here is a breath of fresh air in the heavy metal scene. Their sound is accessible - Metallica fans will enjoy this group - but it is very developed and unique. While you can hear the obvious thrash metal influences with brutal riffs and vocals, you can single them out from any band that they may be associated with. The vocals, riffs, and the often jazz-tinged drumming as a single unit create a sound unlike anything you've heard. The sound and style may be a difficult one to approach or admire at first to those who are not already into heavy music, but wonders await to the ones that give it a shot.

From the thrasy opening to the slippery acoustic-based closing, Leviathan is a wild and excited adventure depicting the tale of Moby Dick. Mastodon, since their debut full-length, Remission, has made each a concept tied to one of the elements; this one is obviously the water album. This album has one of the coolest album covers I've ever seen. Mastodon's artwork is always top-notch, but this album art is probably the best. Without further digression, the music is awesome, and these guys will be one of the forerunners of progressive metal in the years to come.

Report this review (#150422)
Posted Monday, November 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Mastodon - 'Leviathan' 4 stars

A fisherman's tale.

A lot of things went the right way for Mastodon on this release. The vocal duties not only become a shared asset, but also are more audible and feature many clean sections, which was absent on the debut. The dual guitar work of Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher also took a major step up. Their writing gets more complex, tighter (featuring less sludge) and melodic. Some parts even contain some Crimson ideas in their discipline-era, like in the 13 minute epic 'Hearts Alive'. Brann Dailor, I'm not even going to bother describing his drum work like I did on my previous reviews, just phenomenal for short.

This album is a loosely concept based on Moby Dick. The water element really doesn't influence the way the instruments are played, the last track 'Joseph Merrick' would be the only one, representing a classic tune.

This is my favorite Mastodon release thus far. It happens to be the most consistent with good to great songs in my opinion. My favorite tracks would have to be 'I am Ahab', 'Seabeast', 'Megadolon' and 'Joseph Merrick'.

Report this review (#176365)
Posted Tuesday, July 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Crow
4 stars Second full length Mastodon's album... And here is where they really showed all their potential, and this original way to understand metal!

The style of the band is very well defined in Leviathan... They make thrash metal with a lot of death metal influences, and a very original approaching to stoner rock too, giving constant surprises with groovy and and really catchy riffs... Like at the end of Seabeast! Being a fan of stoner (I specially love Spiritual Beggars...) I find this fact of Mastodon really attractive.

But of course, and this is the reason this band is on this site, they use not usual rythms and structures... The songs are sometimes really surprising, and the speed is always changing. Not only in the epic Hearts Alive (a 100% progressive metal track...) but also in the funny Megalodon, where a country melody is followed by a very fast speed metal section. The complex Aqua Dementia, the intrincated verses on Island... This album is a real pleasure for tech metal fans.

The sound of the guitars is bit odd, but it's great for the music and the concept of the album... They have sometimes a sailor mood, like on the beginning of Megalodon. Is incredible how this band, with this compact and hard compositions, are able to give every song a new texture, making a coherent progression of the history through the album. I also like their acoustics... In Joseph Merrick they made another bizarre song, with this dirty guitars and tired keyboards... But it's just brilliant!

Brann Dailor, the drummer, also deserves an special mention here... He is just one of the better drummers in metal today. His incredibly fast drumming, and his surprising rythms make the sensation of that you're hearing a jam session by a genious... Every time I listen this album, I discover new things in the work of this man in Leviathan. His sound is a bit ugly, and a bit too high... But for the speed of his drumming, maybe it's not possible to get a better sound, because the drumsticks of this guy must run at the speed of light!

Best Tracks: Blood and Thunder (obscure, epic and catchy opening...), Seabeast (the final riff is my favourite of the album...), Iron Tusk (just love the whole song...), Megalodon (it's crazy, and it's genious...) and of course Hearts Alive (the longer track is of course very progressive, epic and it shows the whole band's potential...)

Conclusion: Mastodon is one of the most surprising metal acts appeared in the last years... They have achieved a very original sound, mixing a lot of genres and influences, but mixing them so brilliantly that you'll not notice it. They are powerful, refreshing and unique... And Leviathan is their best album to date, surpasing the very good but a bit flawed Blood Mountain. Very recommended band and album!

My rating: ****

Report this review (#180996)
Posted Thursday, August 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Leviathan is the second full length studio album from American experimental metal act Mastodon. Mastodon´s debut album Remission from 2002 was a good surprise for me. I really enjoyed that album even though Mastodon´s music isn´t really my favorite style. You can´t deny good quality music though. Leviathan really cemented Mastodon´s position as one of the most prolific and groundbreaking metal bands in the last 5 - 10 years and I remember reading lots of praising reviews of the album in various magazines. It took me a couple of years to appreciate though.

The music has developed in a more melodic direction since Remission but the heavy riffing and the speed of light fast precision drumming from drum genious Brann Dailor are still present in abundance. Remission wins because of its raw and aggressive style ( There are calmer parts on the album too though) while Leviathan is a more balanced album. It´s simply more memorable and better written IMO. The influences ranges from post metal, thrash and classic heavy metal to progressive rock and psychadelic moments. Leviathan is more metal than anything else though, so don´t expect the album to sound like progressive rock. The influences from the softer genres are only hinted at.

The album starts with the crushingly heavy Blood and Thunder and the next song I Am Ahab is even more aggressive. Seabeast is a more varied track with some almost melodic singing and that´s how the album continues all the way. It´s a really dynamic album and there are no weak songs here. The 13:39 long Hearts Alive is also worth mentioning because of it´s many interesting sections. The mood on the album is great, dark and aggressive.

The musicianship is excellent. The vocals are a mix of aggressive and raw melodic voices. The two guitarists compliment each other well but drummer Brann Dailor take the price here though. What a fantastic musician. Don´t misunderstand me when I praise his fast playing. I don´t mean blast beats when I say fast playing. His fills and his style are so extremely well played and innovative that it is much his effort that Mastodon´s music sounds as good as it does.

The production is excellent. Great clean mix but still crunchy and heavy.

Leviathan is an excellent album and I can fully understand why some people think this is a masterpiece. For me this is a 4 star album and a step up from Remission which by the way also is a great album. I´ll be looking forward to reviewing their next album called Blood Mountain and seing Mastodon live again ( with Slayer, Trivium and Amon Amarth) on the 21th of November 2008 in Copenhagen.

Report this review (#185447)
Posted Monday, October 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars The thing I like the most about Prog Archives is its inclusiveness, bands like Mastodon, Meshuggah, The Dillinger Escape Plan and even Metallica, they're all here, despite their perhaps tenuous progressiveness...?

But I like to think they're here because they write inherently challenging music, play it well and work on concepts that stretch beyond the boundaries of their specific genre. And Prog Archives works: even if metal itself isn't your thing and Metallica aren't your bag at all, cream still rises to the top; Master of Puppets scores a very respectable 4.20, whereas St Anger a derisory 1.51. Although I should guiltily hold up my hand and admit that I am one of the (admittedly very few) fans of that album.

Leviathan is a colossal album on every level, from concept to musicianship, from the crunching opening riff on 'Blood an Thunder' through to the gentle acoustic finale, 'Joseph Merrick'.

Most cuts are fairly short other than 'Hearts Alive', which I guess can be labelled the 'prog track', yet they all display wonderful variety and changes of pace.

Brann Dailor's drumming peppers every track, it was reading about his adroitness that got me listening to Mastodon in the first place. Nevertheless, he doesn't dominate and it's the band's overall synthesis and energy makes them stand out, moving from thrash to sludge, to doom laden stoner rock often in the same track, creating an epic and primeval (though never primitive) sound-scape.

And the riffs. Oh yes the riffs are to die for, the aural equivalent of fine wine, sound made sex. Okay maybe that's going too far, but I defy you to listen to 'Blood and Thunder' or 'Iron Tusk' and not get goose pimples. Monumental. Bill Kelliher and Brent Hinds, flesh out a signature sound that resurface in Blood Mountain and Crack the Skye. And last, but not least Troy Sanders bass plays an important though not necessarily showy part in Mastodon's music and his dry tone and dexterity is always evident on this well produced disk.

I really rate this album highly, so even though a pop up warned me about 5 (or 1) star reviews, I'm going to stick with it, as I favour this over the (almost) equally stunning Blood Mountain and both are highly placed on my essential album list.

Report this review (#194884)
Posted Tuesday, December 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I think that someone is trying to kill me...

Thinking man's metal? The hell you say! This is real metal and they thrust thinking upon it!

The second melodic death metal release by Mastodon, and quite a brilliant one, I must say. The sound is a bit more melodic and a bit less death than the last release, but this serves to diversify the sound, and make it a bit more focused over all. The vocals are now almost evenly mixed between throaty death growls, and the alluring ,id to high range he can offer. This might just be Mastodon's shining moment. The lyrics fit into a watery theme of Moby Dick, and are quite good.

The concept is musically original, and presented skillfully. But, this is Mastodon, and Mastodon are METAL! These songs plow through like a liquid wrecking ball into your mind. The opener Blood and Thunder is a ferocious claw jabbed into your neck, while each subsequent song drives it ever so deeper. Each song is lyrically diverse, and follows the story well. Iron Tusk has the dirty and sludgy opening riff leading into the torrential and smashing vocals that deliver so amazingly paired with the music in general. It can get chaotic, but it is a focused chaos. Especially on tracks such as the aforementioned Iron Tusk, or the muscular Megalodon. Aqua Dementia is extreme and emanates the aura of a violent conflict. The almost 14 minute long epic Hearts Alive is most certainly a brilliant song, and an album highlight. The entire album ends with an ode to The Elephant Man, Joseph Merrick, which is quite a beautiful tune, and a commendation on the diverse capabilities and thought of Mastodon. I am not saying that one track alone makes them an amazing band, I just find it to be a nice touch.

The instrumentation is excellent, and the drumming...the drumming is unreal. The vocals will probably turn a lot of people off, but I most certainly think they fit the band. Everything is technical, forceful, and importantly... intelligent. The lyrics provoke imagery of an exuberant fashion. Not Thinking man's metal, Man's metal that thinks. The diversity is only a minimal, and a few of the musical ideas could be stronger, but this is a fantastic record.

One of many shining moments in this amazing band's collection. 4 powerful stars.

Report this review (#208794)
Posted Wednesday, March 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Mastodon's 2nd release is a real MASTERPIECE!

Mastodon make their appearance to the Extreme-Technical Metal Scene with a really good and promising debut, Remission. Their unique style, which is being perfected with Leviathan's release, immediately surprises everyone! In fact, the band presents something totally different from everything heard before.

Their music consists of extremely difficult compositions that are full of fast, technical, aggressive guitar riffs and drum performances, as well of psychedelic and strangely arranged ideas. The vocals present two sides. The first one consists of aggressive, nearly- brutal vocals (Brent's Hinds vocals). The second one, of clean vocals that are beautifully put into some awesome melodic paths (Troy's Sanders vocals). As was described, the guitar riffs are very aggressive and technical, psychedelic and breathtaking. That gives the group their unique style. Bran Dailor is one of the best drummers of the recent years, presenting his own character, filled with virtuosing playings. Bill Kelliher, also adds his rock to this monster called Mastodon, performing marvellous playing, too.

Mastodon's playing, maybe took some elements from Meshuggah's style. But Mastodon, also managed to build an awesome style of composing and performing extreme-technical music. Leviathan is considered to be an album that changed the whole extreme known sound.

Mastodon are already a very notable and capable band that will continue to surprise with its following releases, rendering itself as one of the most influencing bands of the 00's.

Must-listen band and a must-have album! 5 stars...

Report this review (#221768)
Posted Friday, June 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Mastodon is one of few modern bands that still create awe-inspiring concept albums. Leviathan, being based on the book "Moby Dick" by Herman Melville, sets a very heavy mood with track one "BLOOD AND THUNDER" but the album steers in a completely different direction by track three "SEABEAST", it definitely becomes more progressive, and shows the raw talent that mastodon possess. This album, although a difficult listen at first, becomes one of mastodon's most interesting works to date. The near 14-minuet epic, hearts alive is absolutely flawless and really gives off a genesis vibe while being, obviously much heavier. Although this album is very good, it's obvious that mastodon can amount too much more, and hopefully in the coming years will release more progressive music, because the only major flaw with this album is the sludge metal songs.
Report this review (#229996)
Posted Tuesday, August 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Mastodon's second album was my introduction to the band and it sure wasn't love at first sight. The musical depth has grown since the debut but there are a number of mannerisms that spoil the experience for me. In fact, it wasn't till I heard Blood Mountain that this band started making any sense to me at all. A few years later this still remains my least favourite Mastodon.

This album is a lot of fun for a good 10 minutes. That's how long you will be stunned by its intricate mix of hardcore alternative metal, by its fast paced drumming and busy song writing. But sooner or later you will come to realize that this is just another typical metal album that keeps repeating the same handful of tricks throughout the album. Once you've heard the opening track, you've heard everything that will happen on the album. No variation, no dynamics, no life.

Now, I could have applied that same criticism to the debut as well but somehow that album managed to bring better songwriting, and more importantly, it sounded raw, sincere and packed with intensity. I can't help but finding Leviathan a contrived and prog-wannabe album where Mastodon mistake complication for progressiveness, making each song too busy and indulging a drumming style that can stand as an example of tasteless overplaying. It's so bad that it even annoys me. It ultimately results in a monotonous and tiring album. Only the furious opening tracks and the entrancing second half of Hearts Alive manage to awaken any interest in me.

Another point of criticism goes to the vocals. They fail to convey any strength or poise and sound old, scruffy and tired. Rather like your old nanny with a bad cold then the fearsome vehicle for aggression that they should be.

This might have been Mastodon's commercial breakthrough, but this is the kind of music that tries to impress the listener by fast-paced technicalities and musical overabundance. Unfortunately for Mastodon I'm not easily impressed. Instead, I like to be moved by music. But there's not much here that will move the listener. Yet, a fast back-and-forth moving effect on the heads of metalfans has been observed.

Report this review (#268417)
Posted Friday, February 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars If extreme metal means prog metal with growling, then this is OK. If not, then we have a serious problem.

Sure, you will feel like you are in the middle of the sea in a storm hunted by the Leviathan, sure. They are not impressive musicians, and while I can appreciate the new orientation of their last album, this is not my cup of tea. Musically, they are good but average musicians who likes to make a mess of compositions without orientation. If their goal is flood you in a sea of distortion and heaviness, they succeed. But if they really want to make music for appreciation, then it's not that easy to "get". While Opeth musicians are prominent and have good taste on songwriting compositions (leave aside the growls if you want to) Mastodon do not get the idea that well.

I kind of like Mastodon, but this album is really a let down for me. I think the problem is in the lack of melody of every song. There's no orientation for the growls and the music itself do not save the album. Maybe it's because there are thousand of better musicians out there and in this album, not a single song really shake me in any way, but that doesn't mean I will avoid the album for now on.

2 stars is fair, while I see that there's people very excited about this kind of music. Maybe it need more time to grow on me, but if I have to pick a single album of Mastodon I remain with Crack The Skye, because it has melodies and a more Prog Metal orientation.

Report this review (#270493)
Posted Monday, March 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars I downloaded this album a couple of days ago after hearing the single off the album "Seabeast". I thought this song was great and illustrated the technical ability of the band and the originality. So after I heard this song I looked up the album and listened to it. It - banned word-ing blew my mind. First off I've never heard of a metal concept album maybe I've listened to one and didnt notice it but thats beyond me. On the first track Blood and Thunder I noticed that it sounded completely different than any other song by them. Knowing what the album is based on helped with the review too. This album is loosely based on Moby Dick explaining the cover and the content of song names and lyrics. It's quite the original concept and if anything I said isnt persuading you too go out and buy this Listen to the song off the album "Hearts Alive" it is amazing.

So overall this album is nearly perfect the only problems it had was the flow into the other songs. Most concept albums have great track transistion but this was slightly falty.

Other than that slight problem I highly reccomend this album.

Report this review (#280403)
Posted Monday, May 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Mastodon is a sludge metal band from Atlanta that has increasing in popularity since the release of this 2004 release, "Leviathan", and gained mainstream success with 2009's "Crack The Skye", most definitely their most accessible album so far. Before that though we have "Leviathan", the most violent and roughest Mastodon record yet. Probably the album that perfectly captures their wild, sludgy style.

What makes Mastodon so unique in the sludge metal scene is their fast, dynamic rhythms, which in this genre aren't particularly used. These rhythms happen mainly thanks to drummer Brenn Dailor, an excellent musician with many noticeable jazz influences. The guitars as a consequence are as well fast and powerful, with a fuzzy and typically stoner metal sound. The vocals by Brent Hinds are also very strong, sometimes they almost sound like growls; his style is very unique, and sometimes he makes this kind of nasal voice for the softer parts.

Very well, produced, "Leviathan" is a true explosion of music, power and energy. The complex and fast rhythms are what really give attitude and character to the album. But the structure of the songs are very respectable; after the explosive moments, with bursting, amp destroying guitar chord riffs, we could have some electric arpeggios, that make the musicianship quite virtuous. The choruses are more melodic, sometimes slower but almost never bringing down a notch the volume. Even in the less violent songs there's still an energy that rarely you can find in a band, and this is why I'm loving Mastodon and "Leviathan".

The album is very solid, containing ten, fierce, animated tracks, that will pass as Mastodon classics; from the opener "Blood &Thunder", probably my favorite song of theirs and definitely their most representative. "Seabeast" is very original and with a somewhat catchy melody and vocals, "Iron Tusk" one of the most violent songs off this album. "Naked Burn" is a perfect example of when the band gets more melodic, but without losing any volume or energy. Special mention to "Hearts Alive", more than thirteen minutes of time changes, many times very good, even though at times not as convincing, but definitely labels the band a bit progressive.

An album with a great and impenetrable wall of sound, that if you like the genre is absolutely essential you own.

Report this review (#427709)
Posted Tuesday, April 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Leviathan is the album where Mastodon really came into their own and established their identity as a dominant progressive metal band. Lifesblood and Remission showed us some flashes of what was to come but overall they are much harder to listen too.

Mastodon's music has a very unique sci-fi flavor to it. It is hard to define it but I think it has kind of a Norse 'Ragnarok' feel to it. I think of them as apocalyptic Viking warrior Gods where as the first two albums sounded more like a bunch of dudes in their garage.

Leviathan is powerful, technical, and complex but also highly structured and melodic. Their drummer is probably the most talented member of the band(genre?) from a technical standpoint, but the guitarist riff and fill work is exemplary as is the clean and screaming vocal parts. Don't expect any 'Petrucci-style face-melting' here, but you'll see it isn't at all necessary.

What is special about this album is the continuity and cohesiveness of the feel and the story, an aspect that would wane a little for Blood Mountain but return in full force for Crack the Skye. Favorite tracks are 'Blood and Thunder', 'Naked Burn' and 'Hearts Alive', but there isn't much of a drop off aside from those mentioned.

Mastodon's first huge musical success.

Report this review (#452825)
Posted Friday, May 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Leviathan' - Mastodon (8/10)

After seeing MASTODON live in concert with OPETH a couple of nights ago, it persuaded me to return to the band's music. It was not that I had been particularly impressed by their performance- on the contrary, I had found myself incredibly underwhelmed, and was left wondering 'what' it was about them that held me at bay. I suppose curiosity is as good a reason as any to revisit a band's music, and completing my MASTODON listening experience with their sludge opus 'Leviathan', I can see why the Atlanta-based act has enjoyed such heavy accolades in recent years. Although it holds par relative to other records MASTODON has released before and after this one, 'Leviathan' may very well be the most consistent, consolidating the primordial mass they conjured with 'Remission' and harnessing it with a fine technical edge. The result is an album that's both complex and fun as hell to listen to.

Although the solid balance between crushing riffs and progressive flair does give 'Leviathan' the sense that it's the only album in MASTODON's catalogue reaping the best of both worlds, it's impossible to call this one better or worse than any other of the band's albums. Each of them fits a mood, and in the case of 'Leviathan', the mood is that of sophisticated aggression. Although I may not have gotten the impression seeing some of 'Leviathan's songs performed live, the band's performance is impressively technical by sludge metal standards. Although it's easy to look at the so-called epic 'Hearts Apart' as an indicator of the band's increasingly ambitious approach, the band's strength lies in the quality of their riffs. 'Blood And Thunder' opens with an instantly memorable piece of guitar-crunch that gets the blood flowing from the start. Contrast that with the ferocious tech riffs in 'Aqua Dementia', and it's clear that MASTODON are drawing from both wells with regards to their guitar work.

The technical stuff is arguably the more impressive, but largely because it is kept in such moderation, only popping up when it's effective. MASTODON would later go on to take this sort of frantic bluegrass-style lead picking to new heights with the next album 'Blood Mountain', but the band uses it brilliantly as a counterweight here for the more primordial of the riffs. Of course, it's impossible to speak of a MASTODON performance without at least mentioning the drum work of Brann Dailor, who is by all means the star of the show, both on record and in the live setting. Although the odd time signatures most readily attributed to progressive metal are not in full force on 'Leviathan', Dailor gives himself plenty of room to explore the kit, and it never once feels like the man is settling for a conventional drum beat.

'Consistency' really is the word that describes 'Leviathan' for me, for better and worse. The songwriting is solid throughout, and while there is not a single weak point here, I cannot point out a particular song that steals my heart. Although later albums would go to solve this issue, the songs often sound quite a bit alike one another. The sludgy riffs, crunchy tones, gruff vocals and aggression is constant throughout, save for the brief and mellowed epilogue 'Joseph Merrick', which also happens to enjoy the distinction of being apart from the album's famed 'Moby Dick' concept. Even so, the piece feels more like an 'exit music' tack-on rather than something the album would weep and suffer PTSD over if it didn't have it.

Although MASTODON is still somehow not a total sell for me, each of their albums is impressive in their own way, and 'Leviathan' is no different. Although the riff-fuelled energy appears straightforward at first, there is a sophistication in this band's work that I would not normally expect from their style.

Report this review (#748451)
Posted Friday, May 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars 7.5/10

Well, this is an improvement, no doubt.

Leviathan is seen by most of the community as a metal masterpiece Mastodon. It is too early to say whether I agree or not, but this is definitely a step ahead of your sound brutal debut. Here you will find more clean vocals (although guttural growls are still prevalent) and more influenced psychedelic / progressive. Seriously, Mastodon is not 100% prog, but how do you find metal bands out there that show these influences? A drummer who claims that The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway? Not just anyone, my dear.

The album begins with a bang, with three powerful tracks: Blood and Thunder, I Am Ahab and Seabeast. Unfortunately the rest of the album is not the same quality, except for the last two songs. Hearts Alive is an epic thirteen minutes, greatest song ever made by the band so far (since Pendulous Skin's next album is actually 5 minutes and not 22). There follows a structure properly prog, but it really is challenging, and I have to say their last four minutes are out of this world. But the highlight is the closing, Joseph Merrick (The Elephant Man - name of the last song Remission, look only). It's a very psychedelic instrumental, with the presence of Gilmour- esque guitars, acoustic guitars and even organ! A pleasant surprise, showing why Mastodon differs from many metal bands out there.

4 stars.

Report this review (#939876)
Posted Friday, April 5, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Mastodon was a band that really stood out among the so called "New Wave Of American Heavy Metal" bands of the 00's. While bands like Lamb Of God and Avenged Sevenfold took cues from Pantera and Helmet, Matodon looked back even further, drawing inspiration from the doomy thunder of Black Sabbath and The Melvins. Lead Guitarist Brent Hinds gave the songs a Southern Rock feel with his leads, while every member also acted as a vocalist. So far so good, but how does Mastodon qualify as "Progressive"? Well because they also have their drummer Brann Dailor. He has often spoken about his love for Progressive Rock and with an obvious inspiration from Billy Cobham and Neil Peart, Dailor gives what would otherwise be excellent but straight forward Metal, a Jazzy feel wich actually manages to beat Sean Reinerts drumming on the Cynic album "Focus" as my favorite drum performance in modern Progressive Metal. The album opener "Blood And Thunder" has gone on to be a classic modern Metal song and its no wonder. Dailor comes into it with what sound like a billion snare paradiddles and the pace NEVER relents. You really feel as if you are standing on the ship deck with an insane Captain Ahab and sea spray all around you, as you listen to this track. I can actually say that if you do not like this song then you will not like the rest of the album. "I Am Ahab" continues the assault with a rocking shuffle that reminds me a lot of a cross between Rush and AC/DC(!) The boys in Mastodon knows their heavy stuff but they also know dynamics, something that they show in the following track "Seabeast" a real creepy number, but awesome nonetheless.

"Island", "Iron Tusk" and "Megalodon" are all superb and "Naked Burn" and "Aqua Dementia" gives you a cold chilling feeling, as if adrift on an endless ocean with the White Whale somewhere underneath you, closing in...

"Hearts Alive" is an epic worthy of the name the guitar work is excellent throughout it as the lyrics tell of the helpless protagonist going down with their ship.

Is this a Prog Rock masterpiece or a Metal one? Its got something for everyone. "Crack The Skye" wich is the highest ranked Mastodon album on PA, is in my opinion a "real" Progressive Rock album and comparatively weak sounding IMO. "Leviathan" saw Mastodon infuse the Metal song wich the already were proven masters over, with fresh Progressive elements instead of the other way around and the results were remarkable.

All in all, an excellent album. A true modern classic.

Report this review (#951231)
Posted Sunday, April 28, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Mastodon's sludged-out take on the classic Moby Dick take kicks off in brilliant fashion with Blood and Thunder, mashing up technical, complex playing, roaring vocals, and a singalong chant that wouldn't go amiss on one of Marilyn Manson's more enjoyable albums. The combination of the progressive and the accessible into a new and unfamiliar configuration continues throughout the album as we travel with Mastodon in pursuit of the white whale, with the fuzzy guitars of Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher unlocking choppy soundscapes reminiscent of the thrashing of the ocean in an enormous storm. It takes a few listens before the layered complexities of the album really begin to reveal themselves, but this is an album which amply rewards patience.
Report this review (#976352)
Posted Tuesday, June 11, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Into sight 60,000 years of light, fascination with a mountain put to sea. Built to slay and conquer, all with teeth of beasts."

...and built to slay and conquer they were back in the sludge metal era of their career. Now one of the most successful metal bands of the past decade and current one, Mastodon brought back sludge metal in full force at the beginning of the 2000's. While the band has since mellowed out a bit, Mastodon once combined the intensity and pummeling force of Crowbar with the atmospheric brutality of Neurosis. Add in a bit of alternative metal in the vein of Alice in Chains or System of a Down for taste, and you've got yourself Mastodon's classic sound.

Mastodon were a pretty unique band, so these aforementioned influences are mainly just references. The majority of the album is pure raw sludgy brutality, as best exemplified in classics like "Blood and Thunder", "I am Ahab", "Naked Burn", and my personal favorite, "Iron Tusk". The experimental/alternative metal elements come along in the form of plenty of odd time signatures and rapid chromatic riffing that is played in a style akin to SoaD or other bands of similar ilk. This combination of two often separated styles is part of what gave Mastodon such a unique sound when they came out, giving a brutal yet fresh sound during a time when the metal world was still at the end of the reign of generic nu-metal bands (although those would soon be replaced by generic metalcore bands).

The only times the album lets up with the chaotic sludge attack is with the final two tracks, the nearly 14-minute long behemoth "Hearts Alive" and the classical/acoustic guitar ending "Joseph Merrick". These two tracks showcase a more experimental sound in the vein of Neurosis, albeit being more melodious. Speaking of, Neurosis's frontman Scott Kelly makes his first guest appearance on this album as he would on the band's future albums. Other guests include Clutch's Neil Fallon with additional vocals (Blood and Thunder), Matt Bayles on Organ (Joeseph Merrick), and Phil Peterson on Cello (Hearts Alive).

Only their second album, and Mastodon were already in their prime. While the following Blood Mountain is my favorite, both that and Leviathan are up there with the best sludge metal albums and are already considered modern classics. If you want some forceful and sludgy brutality that's a bit more recent than sludge masters like Crowbar and Melvins, the first three Mastodon albums are essential listening.

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives) See review here:

Report this review (#1536520)
Posted Monday, March 7, 2016 | Review Permalink

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