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Where strides the behemoth indeed... - 95%

krozza, October 6th, 2004

It’s hard to recall a band making such a massive impression in such a short time. Mastodon, like Lamb of God are currently experiencing a huge a wave adoration and popularity. And for good fucking reason too. This band is simply one of the more exciting metal acts in the scene today. For all of Metals pigeonholing genre’s, it’s the bands who, what I like to term, ‘work outside the box’, that make the biggest impact on me. Mastodon is one of those bands.

Mastodon made a tremendous start to their career with the tasty ‘Lifesblood’ ep, which was quickly followed up by the highly acclaimed (by both critics and fans alike) ‘Remission’ disc. High expectations were abound for the mighty ‘Leviathan’. If the band felt any pressure, there isn’t a shred of evidence on this little gem.

The interesting thing with this band is that their style is so hard to describe to the ordinary music fan. We’ve had Math-rock, Metalcore, American Metal, Art-rock, classic metal and technical thrash thrown around. And there is merit in all of those descriptive terms. Mastodon does incorporate those elements. However, I’d prefer to call this band a straight up fucking guitar rock band - Filthy, dirty, bar room rock. When you can’t come up with anything specific, resort to ‘rock’ and that’ll cover it. Still, there is a real esoteric element about this bands song writing in that you’re never quite sure what they’re going to do next.

Understanding that, you know that Mastodon refuse to play by the regular rock establishment rules. This is where ‘Leviathan’ becomes more than a great rock record. It is not a safe album by any means. Having garnered a rather healthy audience via the excellent ‘Remission’, Mastodon could have quite easily churned out a similar sounding album (Remission Pt 2, perhaps) and their fan base would have lapped it up, no complaints. Judging by the experimental, almost progressive nature of ‘Leviathan’ Mastodon has done anything BUT take the easy road. I thought I knew what this disc was going to sound like, because that’s the way most bands work don’t they? They stick to a formula. Quick note: Mastodon doesn’t do formula. Mastodon does curveballs. They take risks. This is a very good thing!

Noting the bands willingness to evolve and try different things, it needs to be stated that Mastodon haven’t become all over-technical or complex on us. Their choppy riff passages have always had the potential to swing towards Dillinger style Math-core, but on ‘Leviathan’, if anything, Mastodon are more accessible than ever. There has been a massive groundswell of hook and melody injected into their song writing – it’s actually allowed more depth to their music. Yet, having said that, they’ve been able to establish a tremendously dynamic dirty rock sound. They’ve become a bit more edgy in a 70’s kind of way; even more metal if you like. Either way, their music, their compositions are fabulously innovative and loaded with charisma and original appeal.

With a sense of melody injected into ‘Leviathan’ songwriting, the vocals have also become an important factor. You will recall ‘Remission’ as a straight red-line vocal approach. Not this time punters. The depth I alluded to earlier is accentuated five fold with both Brent Hines and Troy Sanders combining perfectly between moments of screamo/aggression and ‘cleaner’ sections. Mastodon is now a more varied prospect to listen to vocally, yet never contrived or manufactured for mass consumption.

It’s rather difficult to ignore the captivating and original vibe of ‘Leviathan’. It literally smokes from start to finish. This is a band that stands on it own within a plethora of sound-a-likes. They’re like a metalized Clutch meets Neurosis meets early Metallica meets 70’s style Rush! Whatever you want to call them, they are the bomb folks - A definite Top 10 disc of the year.

**Be quick and lay your metal mitts on the ltd edition version of ‘Leviathan’. Comes in a Gold embossed insert box and contains a bonus 7 track Audio DVD. Three ‘Leviathan’ tracks recorded in 5.1 Surround Sound and four live tracks from previous releases including the monsterous ‘Where Strides the Behemoth’.