Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Evil Revisited - Mastodon - Leviathan

While on brief hiatus, I thought it'd be hilarious/sad/interesting to dig up some of my old reviews and post them here to see how they held up over time and how opinions have changed or solidified since then. I've even left it with all the original typos, grammar mistakes, and/or poor sentence structure, so you know it's good. This one definitely has stood the test of time, and I definitely predicted an instant classic. Though some of my facts are off and I didn't research a few things enough, the feelings remain. Hopefully it keeps your interest and tides you over until Mosh and I stop jerking off and eating Danish long enough to write a new review.

- Hops 


A few years back an online acquaintance of mine, Mike, introduced me to the mammoth known as Mastodon. He figured I'd like it and sent it on over. The album was their first full-length, Remission. Admittedly, I didn't really like it at first. I listened a few times, then put it away. A few months later, when I heard that the band would be playing nearby, I decided to go check them out live and see what they had to offer in that fashion. I'm really glad that I decided to go because Mastodon puts on one hell of a live show and they are a band that you need to see live in order to fully appreciate their CD efforts. Since then Remission has become one of my top 5 favorite albums and constantly spins in my CD player. Lately I've been getting anxious because the band had been touring in support of that CD for nearly two years and it was definitely time to hit the studio again and record their sophomore effort. This would definitely prove whether or not they had what it took in the long run. Glad I was to hear that they did just that and the product is this album, Leviathan, to be released on August 31st. I'm happy to say that Mastodon has exceeded my expectations with this album and put together another masterpiece that I can enjoy and spin for years to come while they again tour like madmen.

Right off the bat I'll say that if you didn't like Remission you probably won't like Leviathan. The music is equally technical and complex and if that was a turnoff for you then, it'll turn you off here. At the same time, the music maintains an unrivaled heaviness and groove that keeps you hooked. "Blood and Thunder" is a killer opening song. It opens much in the way that "Crusher Destroyer" opened up Remission - heavy, fast and in your face. Brann Dailor displays his ungodly drumming skills straight from the start and doesn't let up all the way through the album. If you aren't impressed by the drumming on the CD, seeing him pull it off flawlessly in a live setting will blow you away. The vocals on the CD are probably the biggest difference between this album and Remission. Whereas pretty much all the vocals on Remission were heavily distorted, low growls, Leviathan mixes it up a bit. The distorted growls are far less distorted and more discernible. There are also some clean vocals through the record and there is one style used on "Seabeast" and "Naked Burn" that really annoys me. It sounds really whiny and kind of stupid and it's my only beef with the album.

The album is mostly comprised of songs that are fairly short (four and a half minutes or below) but each song is carefully crafted of some major timing and style switches. The band seamlessly moves from a heavy repetitive riff to some beautiful melodic guitar work. It definitely takes a few listens to truly appreciate the eloquence of each song. I've listened to this album a good dozen times and I'm still surprised and pleased by it with every new listen. Now, in the sea of these short songs comes "Hearts Alive", which accounts for nearly one-third of the album's total length. Coming in at just over thirteen and a half minutes, it easily makes my list of top songs on the album. The seamless transitions Mastodon pulls off makes this song seem like it's only a few minutes long until you sit back and reflect on what you've just heard. I think that with the way the song ends it'd be a great way to end the album - on a heavy, headbanging note. However, the band opts to end the album similarly to the way they ended Remission - with a somber instrumental track. "Joseph Merrick" is a really good song, don't get me wrong, but as I was hearing the end of "Hearts Alive" I thought "Man, this would be a great way to end this experience." I'm not sure what the big deal about the Elephant Man is with this band (the last track on the last album was called "Elephant Man", and Joseph Merrick is the Elephant Man's real name) but hey, it makes for good music.

By far my favorite track on the record has to be "Iron Tusk". This thing has one of the most catchiest openings I've heard. Very rarely does a song make me smile when I hear it for the first time but this song does exactly that. All I could do was grin, say "That's fucking badass.", throw the horns and bang my head. You can't deny power like that. I was also pleasantly surprised by the bands eruption into a speedy, heavy riff in the middle of "Megalodon". Just listen to that song and melt in the metal goodness.

I'm giving this album a 9 /10. Very solid second effort by these Atlanta natives. I'm thoroughly impressed and I think you will be too. Make sure you catch these guys live. Watching Brann Dailor is worth the price of admission alone. The fact that each other member is equally as talented makes them just that much better. If you don't buy the CD for anything else, get it for the cover art. The cover for this album and Remission are just beautiful to look at. Solid work, fellas.