Remission was perfect. Brutal, intricate, epic, soulful, and even soothing. Mastodon would be foolish to even attempt to make a sequel to such a masterpiece. Thus, a new direction.
Mastodon subtly abbreviates their own sound to great effect, sloughing off much of the progressive, Death circa Sound of Perseverance complexity as well as the doomy stoner rock boom for a sound more distinctly their own. Overall, Leviathan is more concise and direct. Remission displayed pretty much all the technicality you could want, so Leviathan is obviously all about the feel.
Remission had a pretty similar feel throughout. A warm, dark, claustrophobic dirt-floored shack being hit by a freight train and a stampede of bulls at the same time. But Leviathan has much more variety and complexity in the mood it sets. Despite shorter, cleaner songs, Leviathan taps into an entire landscape, with the epic “Hearts Alive” being the best example of grand texture shifts.
Mastodon was ahead of its time with Remission, and it is perhaps too far ahead of its time with Leviathan, now virtually a completely new band. Give this album time and you’ll understand the ambition of textures, variety, and feeling it holds. It may not be as shockingly perfect as Remission, but Leviathan is an essential evolution, still deserving at least five stars.