Release DetailsLABEL Relapse
RELEASED ON 8/31/2004
posted on 8/2004 By:
I was late hearing about Mastodon’s Remission album, so that by the time I was listening to and amazing over that record it was sort of old news and the inevitable backtalk about it had already begun. So it’s kind of nice to be able to be among the first to hear the new effort Leviathan. But to also be among those asked to review it puts the pressure on. Give it a nice review and everyone thinks you are gladhanding the “latest thing” for whatever reason, give it a shit review and the fans of the group think you are trying to score “TRV points” at the expense of their pet band.
Luckily I hate all you people, so any pressure is alleviated right off the bat. We can concentrate on the record. Excited? You fucking well should be. Leviathan is a brilliant little piece of rock. Well, more accurately, an enormous piece of rock. But brilliant. We have lately become inundated with Metalcore, the style of combining crossover style hardcore with Swedish melodeath that seems to be everyfuckingwhere lately. It got called Metalcore by enough people that the name stuck, but it also has become the latest catchphrase to identify that which the REAL metalheads can point at and scorn.
Yet there is another style of metal, hardcore and indie rock that actually expresses the very best aspect of each part. I find it in the albums of bands like Burnt by the Sun, Burst and Mastodon. These bands take all the creativity, power, immediacy and technicality of the above mentioned styles and combine them into a monstrous demonstration of pure Rock. I keep saying rock because it’s just not accurate to call these groups anything specific. Rock is supposed to be like this, not the bullshit throwback stuff you hear on FM radio classic stations, or the quietly MOR bullshit/not quiet adult contemporary tripe that it's lumped in with. Rock is supposed to define the edge. It is supposed to be loud, well played yet, and at least a little difficult.
Remission was such a classic feeling record that you nearly wished Mastodon would break up before they had a chance to fuck things up. I found myself taking my first listen to Leviathan with trepidation. At first I was nonplussed. The production seemed much cleaner and brighter than Remission, and I thought “great, not broken but fixed”. But very quickly the band began to weave its intricate riffs and licks and slam its bizarre takes on breakdowns and bridges against the walls of its compositions, and I knew the essence of this band was all right there, right down to the snare happy, Kieth Moonish drumming that gives Mastodon its signature. The musicianship, the composition, and the performance all fly far above any production quibbles I may have.
And then there is the addition of the “clean” vocals, which at first blush, make one think of Helmet, with all the attendant eye rolling that might incur. But as the compositions are experienced, the clean vocals suddenly make an eerie kind of sense. The few songs they are used on are some of the more rhythmically challenging on the record, and the vocals actually lend a sense of musicality rather than commerciality to them. Each Mastodon song has this, in one way or another: a subtle nod to strange melodies, coming from different angles. The vocals are just another aspect of that elegant undercurrent.
In the end I feel I am listening to a record people will be regarding many years from now the way we might regard the second efforts of bands like Morbid Angel or Iron Maiden. We already knew these bands were something else, but the second record confirmed we could be looking at a dynasty in the making. I feel very comfortable telling anyone who has a passing interest in American Metal, Hardcore… fucking ROCK music to get out and pick this up. It just makes no sense not to. It’s a fucking brilliant record. This is only an opinion, but I am sticking to it. Get Leviathan today.
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