Review Summary: SPLIT YOUR LUNGS WITH BLOOD AND THUNDER!!!
Mastodon are a band smart enough to never release to same album twice. Over their career, the band has morphed from driving, epic sludge, to slushy, wondrous, winding progressive metal, and all the while made an album somewhere in the middle which perfected both sounds to a T together to make a truly excellent album and driving experience. Unfortunately for Mastodon and all Moby Dick fans out there, that album is Blood Moutain
, and instead, their hailed and hall-marked classic Leviathan
is merely a great whale metal epic, but does not wear the title of classic well enough to be considered of such quality.
’s sound is basically described and ran down. Sludgy guitar riffs washed down with piercing, war-like shouts and the occasional Ozzy-esqe weeze, driven by some of the most over powering drumming from a certain Brann Dailor. Brann Dailor, unlike a lot of metal drummers, has just as much mastery of the rest of his drum kit as well as the double bass. The sludgy, down-toned main guitar riffs are washed down with twiddling sections and the occasional acoustic passage for the purpose of dexterity in speed and dynamics. Though the dynamics aren’t nearly as noticeable as they are on later records, they certainly have a maniacal and schizophrenic feeling to them, giving the album a certain epic backing for drawling howls and clobbering of Dailor’s drum kit to run over.
All this said; Leviathan
isn’t a perfect album. There is a certain familiar feeling that the listener gets after a couple listening sessions, and the original flavor of the records daunting journey disappears rather quickly. Another noticeable flaw is the albums general inconsistency, much like the entirety of Mastodon’s discography. The album is plagued with songs that long for a certain proggy dynamic, but fall flat. “Seabeast” orchestrates this flaw perfectly, starting with a startling, whimsical accoustic intro, and dynamically falters at taking that atmosphere and terring it down for the new crunch of riffs to come, and the same sort of flaws appear on the thirteen minute supposed ‘epic’ “Hearts Alive”, which instead wanders from seemingly used riff to used riff, moves about in this already familiar area and falls apart in its own sea of repetitiveness.
Among so many flaws, though, Leviathan
still stands tall as a fairly solid metal album. Though lopsided, contains some good songs on both halves of the album, something usually sought after by good records. “Blood and Thunder” and “Iron Tusk” takes the albums cold metal atmosphere, and puts it into a somewhat poppy structure, with both song containing a certain catchy, hooky feeling that you could imagine yourself shouting the choruses and bridges (“SPLIT YOUR LUNGS WITH BLOOD AND THUNDER!” is undoubtedly one of the best metal hooks ever) in your head. Some odd highlights toward the end, like the spastic arsenal of riffs that change influences from occasionally hardcore, sludge, tweedle, and progressive on “Aqua Dementia”, show off some of the albums greatest qualities, though one song could get lost in itself, and while some riffs falter, the next riff is only seconds away, and who knows, it could be something astounding.
is too inconsistent and repetitive to be a classic or extremely notable record, but what it does contain is some great use of influences and sound to project a band with a fairly unique sound to the top. The occasional annoyance with the Ozzy-esqe vocals and the thirteen minute song aside, Leviathan
is technically a great metal record, but in a world where we are expecting too much from an artist in order to get that wow feeling, it may not be enough. Try it anyway.