The discovery of a new band is always exciting. Will it be something you’ve heard countless times? An experience that leaves a bad taste in your mouth? Or is it a treat from which you cannot stop consuming? I wanted to take a trip back in time to reminisce about bands/albums that not only introduced me to heavy music, but kept me coming back for more…
From The Archive: Mastodon – Leviathan
From the moment I discovered Mastodon’s first EP Lifesblood hidden in a rack of CDs, (unbeknownst to me that it was actually their debut release through Relapse Records and that it came out that very week, it must have been fate), I became an instant fan. Mastodon is one of those bands that constantly progressed with their sound, as each album kept raising the bar even higher from the album that preceded it and in doing so, gaining more notice and praise in the media. And despite their ever-growing popularity, which can easily get to a bands ego and have them do things they wouldn’t normally do, they stuck to their formula and continued to write stellar albums without comprising their sound or integrity. And if I had to pick a favorite album out of their entire discography, which turns out is pretty tough to do, it would have to be their 2004 album, Leviathan.
Alright, before we continue, I just want you to take a moment and look at the album art. Why? Because it helps in understanding the theme and concept of this album. Now everyone, for the most part, is quite familiar with Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, even if they’ve never read the novel (for shame). It’s an iconic story of one mans (Captain Ahab) destructive obsession in satisfying his lust for revenge on the beast (Moby Dick) that destroyed his boat and bit off his leg. It’s a downward spiral of a tyrannical captain who ultimately brings his crew down with him solely based on his malign intent. Anyway, I would rather not spoil anymore of the story, so if you want to know what happens, then I urge you to read the book.
Just the like the sea itself, this album flows naturally. From one track to the next, it keeps up a natural momentum that carries the listener through, but like the ever changing motion of the sea, the music has moments of rage and turbulent strides that will crush any who dare challenge it. Evident of this is the first track, “Blood and Thunder”, as it barrages the listener with various pick slides, squeals and pull offs. But it isn’t just the guitars that have all the fun as Brann Dailor attacks his drums with the utmost of fury (the guy is a beast behind his kit), equally keeping up with the guitar work of Hinds and Kelliher. And to round it all off is the bass work of Sanders, providing the dark underbelly necessary to anchor the frenetic and constant changing of riffs.
Mastodon – “Blood & Thunder”
It’s no surprise to anyone just how technical this album is, as Mastodon have proven themselves very capable musicians. But there is one standout factor of this album that grabbed my attention, the vocals. I feel they are the driving force of Leviathan. It’s as if Hinds and Sanders share the same malign and ultimate frustration Ahab must have felt when hunting Moby Dick. The vocals roar and bellow against the unrelenting and powerful music, yet when the cleaner more soothing melodies come in, Hinds masterfully balances it out by providing his tuneful singing. All the better is how much they’ve improved on the vocals with each new release.
This album is a masterpiece of production, as every note feels as though it was polished to its absolute best to reach the exact right effect, and that’s what makes picking a favorite album of theirs so difficult. They just never cease to amaze me. Now some will argue that either Blood Mountain, Crack The Skye or Remission is a better album, but the truth is, each of Mastodon’s albums are amazing and can stand on their own merits. I’ve yet to be let down by these guys, and I can’t even fathom them putting out a lackluster album. Hell, I wouldn’t want to live in a world where Mastodon could succumb to writing a horrible album, it just wouldn’t make sense. Luckily the word around town is, their newest album, The Hunter is far from being just that…
Mastodon – “Megalodon”