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Mastodon - Leviathan

2004 Relapse Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-09-07

It took a while but I finally broke down and got the Mastodon album.

And goddamn it I am glad that I did. An easy album to tout and recommend, but a very hard album to review in the generalized patterns I usually prescribe to.

I won't be able to accurately convey the energy, the enthusiasm, the power, nor the ingenuity of this release, so maybe the best tact is to just describe why I think this album just kills, and let that sell it for you.

From the first notes this album just sucks you in and beats you around mercilessly, twisting and turning with a really good encyclopedia of riffs utilizing power chords but only to emphasize points. Most hooks are built around single note structures that effortlessly blend a multitude of styles ranging from bluegrass to death metal without that intention. This is a band that doesn't over analyze but just does. All 4 guys give their fucking heart and soul here, with mention of course being made of the spiderean drumming of Brann Dailor. He gets all the attention but it's deserved, the man not so much playing beats as streaming fills that are the perfect combination of chops and imagination performed with a fluidity missing in this pro-tools world.

If I had to try and catagorize due to the sheer heaviness I would call this sludge, but there is a hardcore "no rules" ethic at work here also. The most amazing thing here? I had NO FUCKING CLUE what was going to await me with each new track. Something completely foreign to me lately with all the latest albums by long in the tooth bands coming my way. The offtime single notes riffs scream math rock, but the way these songs flow gives it an organic appeal that is lacking in most "stand back and admire" chops-based albums.

Loosely (or not so) based on Moby Dick via analogies and recurring themes, the vocals serve (as in bands such as Neurosis) as just another instrument, the emotion pummeling you in form with the music.

This album is a definite work of art, undescribable, and so highly recommended.