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For some reason, even the hardheaded metal world strongly accepts the new Mastodon in their new, very subdued sound in comparison to Remission, and their EPs and demos. What we have here is very ordinary music with only pretty good drumming (again, contrasting to their previous material), average but catchy riffs, and indecipherable vocals which really aren’t too bad.
For fans of the band prior to this release, instant change will be noticed as their old extremity is gone. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but Mastodon are capable of so much more. Although “Leviathan” is a very creative concept, the band just seemed to be too weakened by the mainstream media to create music that truly fits the bill for what the songs are about. Lyrically, the themes are immense and speak of a long sea voyage similar to that of the classic novel, Moby Dick.
The music really is good, but sometimes seems too dull. “Leviathan” certainly has its power in classics such as Iron Tusk and Hearts Alive, but the rest of the album is only ordinary hard rock with a hint of sludge. However, the band is meritorious and succeeds in creating a diverse atmosphere with a good mixture of clean and heavy guitar parts. Mastodon, in this case, outdo their previous efforts and successfully pull off the musical dynamics that were not as fluent before. Songs like the closer, Joseph Merrick, confirm some of the band’s ability to achieve a completely different sound yet maintain coherence.
The quartet are good musicians, but drummer Brann Dailor, the most talented and technically-inclined of the band, does not play to his full potential. Sure, not everything has to be insane and based on his older milestones, but Dailor just seems to have gotten kind of mediocre behind the kit, save for a few very outstanding moments.
The riff department is certainly very able, “Leviathan” sometimes meanders into uncharted territory (which maybe suits the style they were going for given the theme) with some meaningless clean-picking guitar parts and progressive sounding movements; they just do not work the way they should have.
Ultimately, this is a rather diverse album for what Mastodon originally began playing. The music is average to good, the overall theme is awesome, and the musicianship is there (albeit more mundane). “Leviathan” is very easy to love, especially for newcomers to the band. At the same time, this release to older fans has the propensity to push them away. Still, “Leviathan” is recommended for both parties as this shows the turning point in Mastodon’s career through advancement and regression.