Mastodon - Leviathan
Relapse Records
Heavy Metal
10 songs (46:47)
Release year: 2004
Mastodon, Relapse Records
Reviewed by Nathanael

It’s funny how often critics throw around terms like “album of the decade” or “the next Metallica” in an effort to be the one to say I told you so ten years down the road. Easily one of the most fussed over albums of the year and labeled by countless reviewers and zines as the band to watch, Mastodon have been doing quite well in terms of garnering themselves overwhelming praise and accolades with their latest sophomore release Leviathan. Curious to hear what all the fuss was about, I decided to investigate on my own and see if this truly is the next Ride The Lightning as many have prophesized.

To be sure, Leviathan is no Metalcore re-hash, this trend seeming to be the current order of the day among American Metal bands. Instead, Mastodon weave together a potent and unique blend of good old fashion Heavy Metal with subtle hints of Thrash and Southern Rock wrapped in a varying degree of moods and complex time changes that at times lean toward the more progressive side of the spectrum. It’s definitely something I had yet to hear which scores big points in my book, seeing as other American bands like Shadows Fall draw a bit too heavily from the Gothenburg sound to be called totally original.

Based on the Herman Melville classic Moby Dick, the album kicks off with the excellent Blood And Thunder, perfectly capturing the frantic nature and atmosphere portrayed on the beautiful album cover. By the time the chorus arrives, you can vividly picture a boat full of fanatical sailors beckoning the great whale. The use of dynamics throughout the album succeeds in keeping the listener interested, as each song ebbs and flows much like the ocean, with eerily calm passages giving way to moments of crushing fury. For an accurate demonstration of Mastodon’s varying abilities, look no further than the epic Heart’s Alive for a fitting demonstration.

Much of the reason why Mastodon have been receiving so much praise has to do with the players themselves, each letting their appropriate skills shine throughout the album. While the varying vocal and riff work deserves mention, special recognition must be given to drummer Brann Dailor. Most of the reviews I had read regarding this band had revolved around this guy, and I now understand why, as he succeeds in using his kit almost as a lead instrument rather than mere background noise, his unique drumming rendering Mastodon’s sound immediately recognizable. I most definitely can’t wait until the day I see this guy pull off these fills live. Unfortunately, due to the somewhat muddy production, his skills sometimes get lost in the mix, a shame though not hugely frustrating when the quality of the album itself is taken as a whole.

So is Leviathan the album that our metalhead children will be borrowing from us ten or twenty years down the road? Well that remains to be seen, but if Mastodon keep expanding and improving upon what they’ve already got going, primarily in the production department, the results will certainly be something special. In a time when Metal is really starting to get the recognition it deserves, primarily in North America, it’s inevitable that many bands will jump on the bandwagon and attempt to stake their claim. Regardless of this unfortunate occurrence, we needn’t worry so long as bands like Mastodon continue to explore and uncover new ground. Seeing as this is only their second album, I have little doubt that the best is yet to come. Album of the decade? Who knows, but personally I’d rather enjoy this album for what it is now instead of endlessly speculating about what it might one day become.

Killing Songs :
...all worthwhile but Blood And Thunder and Heart's Alive take it for me
Nathanael quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Mastodon that we have reviewed:
Mastodon - Emperor of Sand reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Mastodon - The Hunter reviewed by Crash and quoted 90 / 100
Mastodon - Live at the Aragon reviewed by Brian and quoted no quote
Mastodon - Crack The Skye reviewed by James and quoted 97 / 100
Mastodon - Blood Mountain reviewed by Adam and quoted 95 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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