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LEVIATHAN

Crossover Prog • United States


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Leviathan biography
US outfit LEVIATHAN was formed in 1972, originally from Little Rock, Arkansas but later having their base of operations out of Memphis, Tennesse according to the few sources available. The band consisted of Wain Bradley (bass, guitars, vocals), Peter Richardson (vocals, organ) Don Swearingen (piano), Grady Trimble (guitars), John Sadler (mellotron) and Shof Beavers (percussion).

They were an active band in the southwest US live scene, and besides opening for acts such as Electric Light Orchestra they also headlined shows themselves, at the height of their career in front of an audience 8000 strong in Memphis, Tennessee.

The band issued one album before disbanding, a self-titled affair that eventually saw the light in 1974. The album had been a long time in the making though, as many of the band members were meticulous in their approach to the art of making music. Trained percussionist Beavers (who abhorred the description drummer) amongst the most detailed-oriented members of a band with perfectionism as a priority.

Leviathan did record a second album, "The Life Cycle", but by the time it was finished the interest of their particular brand of music had declined considerably, and no label showed a particular interest in releasing it.

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Tenth Sub Level of SuicideTenth Sub Level of Suicide
Moribund Records 2003
Audio CD$11.48
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Silhouette in SplintersSilhouette in Splinters
Moribund Records 2008
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Howl Mockery at the CrossHowl Mockery at the Cross
Moribund Records 2005
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Tentacles of WhorrorTentacles of Whorror
Moribund Records 2004
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SplitSplit
Southern Lord 2006
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Xasthur / LeviathanXasthur / Leviathan
Southern Lord 2006
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Massive Conspiracy Against All LifeMassive Conspiracy Against All Life
Moribund Records 2008
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True Traitor True WhoreTrue Traitor True Whore
Profound Lore 2011
Audio CD$8.97
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LEVIATHAN discography


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3.35 | 23 ratings
Leviathan
1974

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LEVIATHAN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Leviathan by LEVIATHAN album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.35 | 23 ratings

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Leviathan
Leviathan Crossover Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I've had this in my collection for many, many years. Always cherished, in some way, and I have returned every now and then for some of that Leviathan semi-magic. The album is not a bonafide classic but it do possess charm and talent, fusing hard rock and progressive elements in a good fashion. The boys obviously had a vision and did pull it off, maybe not to a 100% but they did take it far.

The first track "Arabesque" opens up with nice mellotron, guitar and ambiance. It then leads off into a rumbling and powerful riff and superb bass. I think it is one of the greatest tracks on the album. There are great vocals and harmonies in here that need to be acknowledged. Hard rock, southern boogie and prog combined, maybe a bit too heavy handed but still great. The mellotron drenches it all very tasteful, making it a song of several layers.

"Angela" is a sweet ballad, of which I have not much to say. It is soothing, in a way, coming straight up after "Arabesque" and it's hard rock sound. "Endless dream" is possibly the album's most ambitous and progressive piece. Lasting for 10 minutes it is an epic echoing the late 60's (Vanilla Fudge, HP Lovecraft, Iron Butterfly etc.). It is powerful, reflective and simply terrific. Yet again, the mellotron gives the track something of that very special progressive feeling. I think it is great.

"Seagull" is sort of Free, with it's bluesy riff and steeped in hard rock of the times. It makes up for great hard rock with nice slabs of distorted organ. Not very progressive, though. A beautiful thing though is that the riff to the next track, "Angel of Death", is recurring in "Seagull", only to burst free in that specific track. Again, not that progressive as a whole but terrific hard rock.

The following two tracks are "Always need you", yet another ballad, and "Quicksilver clay" which is a semi-progressive hard rock song. Not bad but not fantastic either.

I'd like to round off this review with a summary. Leviathan's sole album is a hard rock album with southern flavor and quite a lot of progressive elements. I hear Led Zeppelin, Vanilla Fudge and bands like Cream and Free in there, all at their most ambitious and progressive peak. (I would not call Free progressive in the sense of prog rock but they did produce some great hard rock, progressive blues orientated music.) There are lots of mellotron giving the album that certain progressive feeling. Alongside the great instrumentation and commitment the band showed to producing music of quality and progression I'd say that this album is well worth checking out. It's good, even terrific in places, and if you happen to stumble across it I'd say "buy it!" but I would not recommend you to travel the Earth in pursuit of it.

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 Leviathan by LEVIATHAN album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.35 | 23 ratings

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Leviathan
Leviathan Crossover Prog

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Vintage Rock

The opening track "Arabesque" is quite promising as prog tune as it is a mellotron-drenched song. Not only that, the mood is also changing as the music flows even though it does not sound like in a cohesive way. The vocal job by Wain Bradley and Peter Richardson represents what vintage rock music is all about. It reminds me to the classic rock music like Cactus, Humble Pie, Moxy, early Deep Purple, Tea, Mountain. The guitar riffs and singing style are true representation of classic rock music. "Angela" is a mellow song with heavy mellotron work at background and acoustic guitar serves as main rhythm section. "Endless Dream" is still mellow in style. The opening part with bass guitar reminds me to Styx "Castle Walls" but of course this song is longer in duration. The nuance created by this song is dark with mellotron as background and singing style. The music tends to be more complex in the middle with soaring sounds of organ / Hammond. "Seagull" is a song with good melody and nice piano work, combined with mellotron. The vocal work is really like Deep Purple's Glenn Hughes. "Angel of Death" is a straight classic rocker with good (and classic!) guitar riffs. "Always Need You" opening drum work and nuance reminds me to King Crimson's "In The Court of The Crimson King". The album concludes with "Quicksilver Clay" which the organ work reminds me to Uriah Heep's Ken Hensley.

Listening to this album will refresh your memories back to the past. The days when rock music was widely accepted by all types of people, regardless they like or they don't like rock music. The recording quality represents the vintage of this music. Keep on proggin' ..!

"Doing the right thing. Daring to make a stand. Making a difference - this capacity is within you."

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 Leviathan by LEVIATHAN album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.35 | 23 ratings

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Leviathan
Leviathan Crossover Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

4 stars Leviathan are a forgotten one-shot American band formed in the early seventies in Memphis, although most of the members hailed from Little Rock, Arkansas. They recorded this album shortly before scoring a major coup as opening act for an Electric Light Orchestra American tour (‘Face the Music’, I believe), then pretty much vanished after that. There was another album recorded with the working title ‘The Life Cycle’, but to my knowledge it was never released.

There are too many influences here to mention all of them, but several are readily apparent: Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, a little Grand Funk Railroad and Uriah Heep, even some Moody Blues. I’ve read comparisons to very early Kansas (ala the Proto-Kaw ‘Early Recordings’), and while I doubt that group was an influence, there are certainly some similarities on a few tracks (“Quicksilver Clay”, “Endless Dream”). In a few spots there’s even a hint of Bad Company. So you get the idea – mellotron and Hammond in swirling amidst plenty of bluesy hard-rock riffs and a poor-man’s version of Robert Plant on vocals. While I can’t say there is anything particularly original here, this is still a very good album and a great example of that uniquely American transformation of the more high-brow British progressive music of the early seventies. It’s an acquired taste, to be sure.

The opening track is entitled “Arabesque”, which among other things means a whimsical and opulent musical piece written for piano. Well there is indeed piano on this track (and throughout the album), but I’m not sure the term ‘whimsical‘ applies. I suspect the band simply thought this was a sufficiently pretentious title for an album that aspired to symphonic leanings. The band had three keyboardists, so the interplay of mellotron (flute mostly), piano, and Hammond gets involved enough to seem almost muddled at times, but the percussion and electric guitar really dominate this work despite all the keyboards. Vocalist Peter Richardson vacillates between Paul Rodgers and Robert Plant, but wears both of these quite well.

“Angels” is actually a more piano-driven piece than “Arabesque”, and this tune borders on being a rock ballad for the most part. Bassist Wain Bradley lends vocal harmonies as well as a heavy bass line throughout.

The longest and most interesting piece is “Endless Dream”, which reminds me quite a bit of about half the tracks on the Proto-Kaw/Kansas ‘Early Recordings’ album mentioned earlier. The keyboards overwhelm quite a bit of this song, but here again there is a heavy and repetitive guitar riff reminiscent of most of Deep Purple’s work of the same period.

“Seagull” is the most straightforward rocking tune on the album, mostly guitars for the first half of the arrangement, but some Hammond here as well. Richardson is in full Plant-mode throughout, and the track transitions well into a mellotron-laden sequence that brings things to a mellow close.

Richardson and Bradley haul out the vocals harmonies again on “Angel of Death”, and this is the track that hints that the band had at least a passing familiarity with Uriah Heep’s body of work.

“Always Need You” is a title that sounds like a country tune, and there is a distinctly American feel to this arrangement. Other than a pretty decent buildup of keyboards toward the end, this one is very much seventies radio-rock.

The final track “Quicksilver Clay” would be my second choice after “Endless Dream” for strongest track. The vocals here almost border on Greg Rollie-era Journey, while the keyboards and rhythm is much closer to a slow and slightly unambitious Kansas tune – pleasant enough, but it’s not really surprising this stuff didn’t stand out much when it first released.

The band was relatively short-lived, thanks to among other things a small label with little ability to promote them, and no really flashy gimmicks to distinguish them from the crowd (although they did manage some notable gigs including opening for ELO at one point). I've read they recorded another album, but have never seen any indication it was ever released.

Bradley and a couple other band members went on to form a band called Companion, who themselves released only one album then disappeared. Bradley (who came to Leviathan from a late sixties psychedelic garage band named Changin’ Tymes) is a video engineer today and plays in the praise group of his local church. Richardson also went the gospel route, and today boasts a rather lengthy discography that he continues to add to from his home in Alaska. Drummer Shof Beavers formed a short-lived industrial-rock band named Sharkbait, and is still involved in music via production and music-based software engineering. Swearington is currently involved in "pure electronic" music according to Beavers. Sadler seems to have dropped out of sight.

This is one of those albums that you like to have in your collection, especially if you have a soft spot for well-made but forgotten bluesy and marginally progressive bands of those days when it was still cool to be in such a band. I would note though that the original vinyl is probably impossible to find, and the Texas label that released it claims that Akarma Records bootlegged the CD version that is now about the only version available. Not sure if that’s true, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

I’ll give this 3.6 stars just for being interesting, well played, and worth picking up if you run across it. Well recommended if you like a little heavy blues mixed in your cup of prog.

peace

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 Leviathan by LEVIATHAN album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.35 | 23 ratings

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Leviathan
Leviathan Crossover Prog

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars With their sole, eponymous album, American act Leviathan delivered quite an interesting item for the history of North American prog rock during its seminal stages. While not precisely a masterpiece in itself, the "Leviathan" album comprises a catalogue of energetic performances and solid melodic ideas. The band displays influences from early British symphonic prog (Procol Harum, Genesis, even PF and Nektar, to a lesser degree) and heavy art-rock (Uriah Heep, early Deep Purple) fluidly fused into a standard American hard rock basic sound, taking this hard rock nucleus to a harder edge than their more stylish compatriots of Kansas. Even thought there are three musicians on keyboards, dividing duties on Hammond organ, mellotron and piano, it is the guitars that take center stage most of the time, not only because the riffs and harmonies are heavily pronounced in the mix, but also because the solos are almost exclusively left as a guitar responsibility. The organ is the most featured keyboard in the global sound, while the mellotron is used for flourishes and ornaments. The opener 'Arabesque' is catchy, but only a hint of the level of sonic sophistication that the band is capable of building up within its well-traced confines. 'Angels' is an acoustic guitar-based ballad that gradually gets enriched by noticeable piano adornments and elegant mellotron layers (flute and strings): during the final section, the piano player begins to do some effective Wakeman-isms. This is closer to Genesis' "Trespass" than to, say, Grand Funk Railroad's "E Pluribus Funk". Next comes the longest and most complex piece in the album, 'Endless Dream'. Starting with eerie organ minimal layers, a simple bass sequence serves as an intro to the main motif, a melancholic semi- bombastic episode in which the influences of Pink Floyd's languid psychedelia and genesis' melancholic vibration are combined. The interlude gives room for the emergence of alternate organ and guitar solos that may bring the expert listener memories of early Nektar. Tracks 2 and 3 are the most notable gems in the album. The next two pieces, all segued in a continuum, find the band exploring their rock side more consistently on a mid-tempo pace. All in all, they never forget the occasional keyboard adornments that bring a casual extra symphonic appeal to the overall sound: for instance, the piano and mellotron in the middle section of 'Seagull'. 'Always Ned You' is a rock ballad with featured piano and added guitar riffs, somewhat Procol Harum- influenced but also bearing similarities to the regular slow songs by Doobie Brothers. The 7 ½ minute long 'Quicksilver Clay' closes down the album as a moderately majestic semi-ballad, comprising an accurate recapitulation of the moods displayed in the previous three songs, partially recapturing the colorfulness of track 3. Well, "Leviathan" is a very good album that reveals an interesting, albeit undeveloped vision of art-rock, an effort that should be regarded as a serious attempt at scoring a cornerstone in the early prog scene of the USA.

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 Leviathan by LEVIATHAN album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.35 | 23 ratings

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Leviathan
Leviathan Crossover Prog

Review by bristolstc

4 stars I've gotta give them 4 stars for trying. I mean, how many American bands successfully played progressive rock and didn't make fools of themselves? Not too many. It should be noted before we continue further that despite all the mellotrons, time changes, fancy rhythms, and dazzling guitars that this is more of a metal album than a prog one. Prog metal in an early form owing a huge amount of their sound to Deep Purple would be the best way to describe it. "Arabesque" starts the album and is the masterstroke here, a perfect hybrid of Wakeman period Yes and Deep Purple with slashing heavy on the distortion guitars, screaming Gillan soundalike vocals, mellotron, and a soft chorus to contrast with the heavy metal verses. You're wondering what direction they'll take, Deep Purple or Yes. The next track "Angela" sounds like neither, a long ballad more in the vein of my fave American progressive band Jasper Wrath but not as good. Still, it's a good song with effective lush mellotrons and pleasant vocals. "Endless Dream" is back to metal meets prog with a dark, sinister, violent attack from the vocals and portentious doom ladened instrumentation. It sounds like what all the metal bands who flirt with progressive try and fail at doing. This is the album's longest track and never does it become boring. The guitars are blazing when they need to, the vocal is impressive- a bit of Jim Morrison in with the Ian Gillan, and again there's lots of mellotron and some good old Hammond B3 too. Side Two is a little more incosistent than Side one although it starts strongly with the Zeppelin meets Purple "Seagull" which features a high pitched scream from the singer that will have you in disbelief. Even Plant and Gillan weren't that shrill! The song rocks convincingly, and the vocalist therefore doesn't make a fool of himself. Unfortunately, it's from here that things go downhill. "Angel Of Death" is a sick and stupid throwaway, leaving me totally underwhelmed and almost wanting to forget I'd bought this. It improves after that again, though. "Always Need You" is a great melodic ballad and "Quicksilver Clay" is a good closing track of melodic and metal crossover. The only problem here is the problem I encounter with nearly all progressive groups from my homeland. We just don't "get' this kind of music well enough to make a five star masterpiece essential album except Jasper Wrath. So this is a great one to pick up if you find it. You'll like it and should agree it's a really good addition.

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 Leviathan by LEVIATHAN album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.35 | 23 ratings

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Leviathan
Leviathan Crossover Prog

Review by Andrea Cortese
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "...the magic minstrel tells of ages old, of man and his soul; the endless flight, dark against the light, it makes your blood run cold..."

Leviathan, a really obscure band, for me... for another time I have to thank Akarma records for its excellent work on many minus-known titles. It is strange thing there are so few reviews on this one shot US band. Thought our PA friends beyond Atlantic ocean were more into Leviathan.

Leviathan...that ancestral monstrum which is told about in ancient legends...Leviathan, the well known monstrum uopon whose characters philosopher Thomas Hobbes build up his description of the STATE's (governement) concept. A horrible monster which has concentrated all the rights of man. The statual government is pure strenght and violence: the Great Leviathan! Men are fighting each other and no one has dues or obligation toward anybody else: HOMO HOMINI LUPUS. Man tries always to dominate other persons and so there is the need of a PACT between them. Every man abandons all his powers and gives them to the State. After the pact is signed, man has no power or right against the State, all is concentrated in it!

Nice cover art, a sea-monster (dragon-shaped) arises from the waters and is going to attack a little ship which is sailing the vast ocean driven by the wind.

How about the music? Well, Leviathan gives us a sort of mix between american peculiar hard rock and very strong mellotron parts. In a similar vein of the first Deep Purple. This characteristics are self evident since the first few seconds of the opener track titled "Arabesque" (6,14 mns): harder and gentler parts alternate each other, always being an important role for the famous keyboard instrument. You will not hear to complecated and elaborated arrangements, but the results is very good art rock, a convincing album from start to finish.

"Angela" (6,42 mns) is a mellow song with the predominance of mellotron and acoustic guitar. Some playing children's voices introduce. A soft ballad for a romantic interlude.

"Endless Dream" (10,06 mns) is the great opus here. The most interesting for a proglover. Varied arrangements for this darker piece. More important role for bass guitar. The voice of the singer (I think he is Wain Bradley) reminds me of Erik Bloom of Blue Oyster Cult who, in the same period completed their most considerable release of the so-called "black and white period": Secret Treaties. In fact Leviathan are a sort of mix between Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin (for the vocals of another singer) and Blue Oyster Cult (the most important american rock band of that time). Yeah, Endless Dream is an excellent track.

"Seagull" (4,58 mns) is a more conventional hard rock piece. The singer (this time the singer should be Peter Richardson, but none info on the Akarma booklet) is influenced a lot by Robert Plant way of singing...sometimes he seems to be a clone of him!

"Angel of Death" (4,12 mns) continues the riff of the previous track and "Always Need You" (3,26 mns) is another romantic short ballad with a remarkable electric guitar.

"Quicksilver Clay" (7,26 mns) is the other highlight of the album with a remarkable organ.

All in all, Leviathan unique album is a very good one...the band seemed to be very promising, what a pity the split too soon! I don't know why. My rating: 3.5 stars!!

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 Leviathan by LEVIATHAN album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.35 | 23 ratings

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Leviathan
Leviathan Crossover Prog

Review by tmay102436

4 stars Wow, how can one person see this album as a 1 star, and another a 4 star? I guess that's what makes prog so personal, and in the end so enduring.

I love this album! No, it's not a prog, million notes a minute, school of music masterpiece, it's a hard rock album with nice touches of mellotron and B3 organ and great 70's style guitar work. The vocals are also strong. The overall feel of the music is somewhere in between the very best of Trapeze and traditional Deep Purple prog.

Wonderful stuff, but just my humble opionion

Thanks for this wonderful web site!!!

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