Monday, February 6, 2012

LEVIATHAN - Mastodon

YEAR: 2004

LABEL: Relapse

TRACK LISTING: Blood and Thunder, I Am Ahab, Seabeast, Island, Iron Tusk, Megalodon, Naked Burn, Aqua Dementia, Hearts Alive, Joseph Merrick

IMPRESSIONS: Atlanta-based purveyors of sludge metal Mastodon hit the big time with this album; it gained them critical acclaim as well as vastly increasing their sales and fan base. A real example of prog metal which combines heaviness with experimental rhythms and unusual instrumentation (the fact there's a guest cellist on this album speaks volumes) as well as the "high concept" of "MOBY DICK" and "the water element" section in their quadrilogy of "classical element-themed" albums. Brann Dailor's constantly shifting drumwork is, as described in the itunes review "...often dazzling, spurring guitarists Bill Kelliher and Brent Hinds to unleash volleys of intricate, incendiary riffage." In Sam Dunn's documentary series METAL EVOLUTION, the point is made that if Rush is Led Zeppelin meets Yes then Mastodon is surely Metallica meets Yes. Although I'm not a fan of Yes (I'd probably substitute King Crimson), I'd have to agree.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Blood and Thunder, I Am Ahab, Seabeast, Iron Tusk, Megalodon, Naked Burn, Hearts Alive, Joseph Merrick

GUEST ARTISTS: Scott Kelly (additional vocals on "Aqua Dementia"), Neil Fallon (additional vocals on "Blood and Thunder"), Matt Bayles (organs on "Joseph Merrick"), Phil Peterson (cello on "Aqua Dementia")

FACT SHEET: LEVIATHAN is Mastodon's second album. It is a concept album loosely based on Herman Melville's MOBY DICK. It is also the second album in Mastodon's sequence of albums which are based on "classical elements" starting with their first album REMISSION (2002) based on the element of fire, LEVIATHAN (2004) based on water, BLOOD MOUNTAIN (2006) based on earth and CRACK THE SKYE (2009) based on the air element. Scott Kelly of Neurosis and Neil Fallon of Clutch provide guest vocals on "Aqua Dementia" and "Blood and Thunder" respectively. The cover artwork is by Paul A. Romano which features (in the full artwork) a reflection of Hokusai's "Great Wave" from "36 VIEWS OF MT. FUJI". Three magazine awarded LEVIATHAN album of the year in 2004: Kerrang!, Revolver and Terrorizer. The song "Joseph Merrick" refers to the famous Victorian-era "Elephant Man" often incorrectly called "John Merrick".

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