by deadskinmask216 USER (2 Reviews)
September 17th, 2006 | 7 replies

Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This is not a fanboy review. It's simply that good of an album, and might even get a classic rating from me someday. Check it out..

There's something in Mastodon's "Leviathan" that is eery, brooding, mysterious, and a looming presence throughout the entire album, and I cannot describe it. The underlying theme that ties it all together is one of obsession, revenge, blood, and finality, and coupled with the brilliantly complex music that accompanies it, it makes for a truly satisfying album. But to be honest, I did not like it that mutch at first, asides from the two semi "normal" streamline singles "Iron Tusk" and "Blood and Thunder". But that would all change.

Something about it kept me hell bent on cracking the code of "Leviathan" that I had to keep listening, and it began a heavy rotation in my headphones. Listen after listen I was able to break through the somewhat off center musical diversity of Mastodon that put me off at first but soon became what I now call a masterpiece. It took me from three months for it to be considered that, and at the beginning those chances were very bleak. This is not an album for the typical metal fan, and it does not feature any straight to the point accesible riff rock that most metal is associated with. Coming off more like Rush than Metallica or Slayer, but bringing the best of both those worlds into the mix, they can be defined as prog-metal, but for Mastodon, definition isn't really even possible.

1. Blood and Thunder- The album kicks off with a crowd pleaser, the moderalety immediate accessible track off "Leviathan" that is Blood and Thunder. With a straight forward but feverishly catchy riff to get things started and through the verse, complete with a sludge metal roaring chorus, and the first disarmer on the album: The Interlude. I was blown away by the technicality of the guitar, and Brann Dailor's drumming is nothing short of stellar, which remains a constant throughout "Leviathan". The bridge is heavy as hell, and it doesn't let up until the final octavian chord that quickl drops off just as fast as the song began.

2. I Am Ahab- By the way, this album is loosely based on excerpts from Moby Dick {hence the title of this tune}. Ok, I was not thrilled with this track, but it will grow on you as it did me, but in some cases it might not, and that's understandable. The opening really grabs you, and is in some ways similar too Blood and Thunder, but morphs into a blazing fast prog riff and some flurrying power chords during the verse that must have really been a guitar neck buster during the writing of the song because the chords slide up and down the neck at a very technical and break neck speed pace. Heavily rhythmic, with some dynamic drums from Dailor. Trent's voice is nearly un-comprehendable, and it sounds very muddy on this tune and really requires the lyric book to be right in front of your face to know what the hell is going on. Decent tune that certainly grows on you, but it is not immediately accesible.

3. Seabest- Melodic. Hauntingly beautiful. Intresting arpeggiating from the guitar duo and I can actually hear some of the bass coming through on this one. The lyrics paint a dark picture of the obsession in Ahab's mind and his violence and grief over getting his revenge. The music really compliments that with technicality and precision from all the instruments and some half-way decent vocals. This was one of my favorite tracks on the album with a very harmonic melody in the chorus and a fantastic breakdown. Good tune.

4. Iceland/Island{either one}- The story hits land for a moment and the music tells the tale of the adventures on an icy island filled with looming danger and a terrible beast that will be unleashed on the next track. Prog metal at it's finest on this one, but it is one of the more less accessible tracks on the album with some pretty bland metal vocals that don't have much melody or feeling to them, and it's impossible to know what they're talking about without that lyric booklet. Still a strong track though. I like it alot.

5. Iron Tusk- A mighty track on "Leviathan". The music takes the shape of the terrible beast that is Iron Tusk and the rampage it inflicts on them as the crew make their escape off the island from the monstrous creauture. As the music gradually gets more intense, it represents to me firece fighting against the beast as the ship begins to get away from the island and blood and violence is occuring in a wave of chaos. Chaos really represents this track. Brooding overtones, a cool riff, and some heavy freakin' melodies in the bridge instrumental section.

6. Megalodon- Truly monstrous, and that's a good thing. This song showcases the metal, prog, doom, psychedelia, experimental, and, for a moment, the bluegrass musical aspects of Mastodon. A mess of time signatures from Dailor's drums set the tone for the song and the guitars keep up in sync as the song goes all over the place in prog fashion. The bluegrass guitar lick seperates the two portions of the song from a slower paced doom crawl to a flurry of shredding thrash and growling vocals. This is definately a highlight on the album.

7. Naked Burn- The fight for the fish begins. The climactic ending of "Leviathan" begins with the first of the three part trilogy of the battle against the white whale, and details some vicious harpoon standoffs against the whale, a blood red sky, and the ever increasing unbridled hatred and madness from Ahab as he begins his battle for his obsession. The opening riff is a high string open chord bombardment that rocks in a progressive format and turns into some emotionally intense and violent melodic work in the chorus/post-chorus section. Great track.

8. Aqua Dementia- As the epic struggle continues, the music evolves into a harsh lead riff that details the battle as it comes into it's closing moments. The crew make their return to their ship from their longboats after being crippled by the white whale in the open water. Ahab remains in his longboat to fight the fish, as the crew of the boat face their final hour. The whale crashes into the ship and splits it in half, killing most of the crew, and the ship begins to sink and go down. This story to me is told through the lyrics and the musical genius of this tune. It sets the stage for the final concept track of the album as the ambient sounds of the ocean enter the audio and we approach the closing moments of the white whale "Moby Dick" concept portion of the album.

9. Hearts Alive- Nothing short of epic. Epic, epic, epic. The guitar/drum buildup starts things off with a slow and steady stringing of arpeggios and jazz fusion drumming that warps into a mammoth rocker, emotionally intense lyrics detaling the death of the crew as the sink into the deep blue sea, and the final battle between Ahab in the longboat and the white whale, ending with the death of him and the victor of the whale as the crew succumbs to the ocean, and die of Ahab's obsession. The music paints a vivid picture, and the nearly eight minute instrumental portion towards the end is intensely fierce and emotionally riveting, but not in a sappy sad kind of way. A perfect ending to the concept portion of "Leviathan" that takes up most of the album.

10. Joseph Merrick- Great little acoustic track to close the album. A somber instrumental that feautures some great acoustic work. A strong finish to close the album. No more, no less.

"Leviathan" becomes truly close to you after endless listening. For some it comes quicker than others, some it doesn't, and to some it won't even become accessible at all, but to me it truly is a classic album. The only that keeps it from getting 5 for me, is the amount of time it took me to crack the "Mastodonian Code" as I like to call it, but once I did the music opened up for me and became a very rewarding experience for having done so. For immediate attraction, check out Mastodon's "Remission", but for those who like to truly devour and gain comprehension through truly listening to the music, "Leviathan" is for you.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Dried Muffin Remnants
September 18th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

Love the review; mainly because I feel the same way, but you articulated everything nicely.

Staff Reviewer
February 10th 2007


Awesome review of an excellent album.

February 10th 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah definitely a good review. This album is great.

November 3rd 2009


Album Rating: 4.5

Great review, this album is nothing short of incredible.

November 3rd 2009


Album Rating: 4.5

My favorite metal album

November 3rd 2009


Album Rating: 4.5

Album is trippy as fuck. And twice and good.

December 30th 2011


This was a great review. I was looking for a track by track review for a while.

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