I first heard about Mastodon when their debut release “Remission” first came out. So I went onto amazon and listened to a few seconds of each sound clip and to say the most, I wasn’t impressed. So I dismissed them as MTV Metalcore garbage solely because they were being pushed in my face with other american groups like Chimaira and Killswitch engage. It was hard not to slap that label on them seeing as I hadn’t really heard what they had to offer. Anyway two years later “Leviathan” was released, and the hype for this band began to grow even more. I reluctantly gave in and picked up “Leviathan” after seeing the Video for “Iron Tusk” one night on TV. So after letting “Leviathan” sit in my ears for a while the only thing I can think is “Mastodon, how I’ve misjudged you!”
I am really glad that bands like this are still kicking around, getting the praise that they deserve. That is, bands that don’t easily fit into a single genre category. Bands like this truly are a dying breed in metal today, sure there are some great bands that give out some great death metal, black metal, thrash, etc. but they don’t really do anything to help progress metal and give it a new and interesting spin. Bands like Clutch, Mastodon, Absu Strapping Young Lad, Sunn O))) Meshuggah, Opeth, Finntroll…And the list could go on, but the point is that they all bring something refreshing and new to the table.
Now, onto the review of Mastodon’s “Leviathan”. The Five star rating really is closer to a 4.5. Why is it a 4.5? Well its mostly because of a few little problems that in the end don’t make the album suffer enough to deserve a 4, thus the 5 star rating. I’ll also give them credit for making metal that almost anyone could like. You could like practically any type of metal or even Rock and still enjoy this. In my opinion Mastodon(along with some other bands mentioned) is the embodiment of metal; its not held down by any negative labels, its easy to get into and enjoy, but its not made for people with an attention span of 2 minutes. *cough* Nu-metal *cough*.
My only beefs with “Leviathan” are: The Production; while it is a definite improvement over “Remission” its just not 100% better.(But once you are bombarded by some of those deadly Riffs, you’ll hardly notice.) Another beef I have is “Hearts Alive”, its just too long on an album of 3 and 4 minute songs. Im not at all saying that its a bad song, its a great song. Its just if you don’t listen to it the album becomes 33minutes long rather then 46. So if you don’t like it then your gonna have a shorter album then most people. Again these problems I have are more like the only flaws I could find, and they aren’t that big of a deal to me. (Like I said, I enjoy “Hearts Alive” and the production doesn’t bother me…It just might bother you.)
Now that the the problems I had with “Leviathan” are over with lets move onto the reason that I like “Leviathan”. I’m a Major sucker for a concept album, I just love it when an album follows a theme or story. It makes the whole record seem that much more memorable. The Artwork on the cover and in the booklet is unbelievably good. And Two Big thumbs up to whoever did it.
I don’t understand why people don’t like the vocals…I guess that they are people that are more used to the vocal styles used in Judas Priest, or Metallica. Please, If you are a fan of metal and do not like the screaming/etc type of vocals try your absolute hardest to like them on this record. As this may be a good “gateway” band for you that may end up leading you onto more unknown and amazing bands and genres of Metal. You’re missing out on a ocean of great music, and your missing out on it just because It’s not what you are used to. The vocals here really are not that hard to enjoy, They’re not death metal screams/growls/grunts so if you don’t like those you should enjoy “Leviathan”.
The guitars are spectacular and the guys really manage to make up some really unique and original riffs/sounds. Also not to be understated are the drums, they will blow your mind! Brann Dailor is a beast of a drummer. He uses a very un-conventional method of drumming which is more like jazz drumming then the usual blast beat-ridden method. And all the while Troy Sanders beefs up all the riffs with his bass. making them sound all the more heavy and monstrous. So to end this review I’ll just mention a few tracks that I thought were the strongest and give a brief description for each.
Some standout tracks are:
.: Iron Tusk :.
An amazing track that is everything metal should be. It has some great, crunching riffs laced throughout it. This has to be my favorite track on the entire album. Apparently this video was banned from being aired on MTV because they had those guys who swing around with hooks through their skin in the video. So todays lesson is that the people working in MTV are complete tools.
.: Blood and Thunder :.
A great opener for the record. It also sports a guest (Vocal) appearance from Neil Fallon of Clutch (2:15 – 2:55)
.: I Am Ahab :.
Very good track with some riffs that sound a bit stoner rockish. A good follow up to Blood and Thunder.
.: Naked Burn :.
GREAT chorus riff on this one, and a great chorus to go along with it; |Saaaaaave your self| |Dooooont wait on me|. It might sound a bit cheesy but it really works.
.: Aqua Dementia :.
Another Track with a vocalist guest appearance (Scott Kelly from Neurosis) The riffs and drum beats that start off the track are very catchy. The lyrics also fit well with the vocals.
.: Hearts Alive :.
The monster track from “Leviathan”. It really shows off the great musicianship and songwriting ability that Mastodon is capable of. it also happens to be 13 minutes long so you had better hope you enjoy it to because if you don’t you’ll find yourself getting to “Joseph Merrick” (the albums intrumental Outro) 13 minutes sooner.
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-Igar the Terrible