MASTODON — Leviathan

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MASTODON - Leviathan cover
4.19 | 80 ratings | 10 reviews
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Album · 2004

Filed under Sludge Metal
By MASTODON

Tracklist


1. Blood and Thunder (03:48)
2. I Am Ahab (02:45)
3. Seabeast (04:15)
4. Island (03:26)
5. Iron Tusk (03:03)
6. Megalodon (04:22)
7. Naked Burn (03:42)
8. Aqua Dementia (04:10)
9. Hearts Alive (13:39)
10. Joseph Merrick (03:33)

Total Time 46:43


DVD:

1. Naked Burn (5.1 Surround Sound) (03:44)
2. Aqua Dementia (5.1 Surround Sound) (04:31)
3. Hearts Alive (5.1 Surround Sound) (13:40)
4. Where Strides the Behemoth (Live) (03:18)
5. Battle at Sea (Live) (04:13)
6. Thank You for This / We Built This Come Death (Live) (04:02)
7. Crusher Destroyer (Live) (02:08)

Total Time 35:36


2004 Plyzen CD reissue:

11. Crusher Destroyer (Live) (02:08)
12. Battle at Sea (Live) (04:13)

Total Time 53:04


2004 Relapse Recoprds Japan / 2005 Ritual Records reissue:

11. Where Strides the Behemoth (03:18)
12. Battle at Sea (04:12)
13. Thank You for This / We Built This Come Death (04:01)
14. Crusher Destroyer (02:06)

Total Time 60:20


2008 Japanese CD edition:

11. The Bit [Melvins Cover] (06:05)

Total Time 52:48

Line-up/Musicians


- Brent Hinds / guitar, vocals
- Bill Kelliher / guitar
- Troy Sanders / bass guitar, vocals
- Brann Dailor / drums

Guest Musicians:

- 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"

About this release

CD, CD/DVD and 12" vinyl LP released 31st August 2004 on Relapse Records (RR6622-2).

Vinyl pressings:

800 copies - Black vinyl, 180 grams
500 copies - Transparent blue vinyl
500 copies - Turquoise vinyl
100 copies - White vinyl
100 copies - Clear vinyl

CD released 2004 on Plyzen (WPOC-0027), with two bonus tracks.

12" vinyl picture disc released 2004 on Relapse Records (RR6692), limited to 500 copies, and on coloured vinyl:

500 copies - Black vinyl (180 grams)
500 copies - Blue/white vinyl

CD released 25th November 2004 on Relapse Records (HWCY-1182), with four bonus tracks.


Recorded and mixed at Robert Lang Studios, Studio Litho and Ek Studios (Seattle, WA), March 2004.
Mastered at West West Side Music (Tenafly, NJ), April 2004.

CD reissued 2005 on Irond Records (IROND CD 05-1006).

CD released 24th May 2005 on Ritual Records (HWCY-1182), with four bonus tracks.

CD released 2006 on Del Imaginario Discos (D.I. 099).

CD reissued 10th December 2008 in Japan on Relapse Records (YSCY-1129), with one bonus track.

12" vinyl LP reissued 29th June 2010 on Relapse Records (RR 6622-1):

1364 copies - Orange vinyl
999 copies - Green vinyl
998 copies - Red vinyl
997 copies - Gold vinyl
500 copies - Black vinyl

12" coloured vinyl LP reissued on Relapse Records (RR 6622-1):
11th July 2011 limited to 504 copies,
2012 limited to 4096 copies,
18th October 2013 limited to 1005 copies (black vinyl) and 401 copies (yellow/red vinyl)
2014 limited to:
2014 copies - Oxblood vinyl
1010 copies - White/gold vinyl
504 copies - Red/blue/gold vinyl

Thanks to NecronCommander, The Angry Scotsman, Bosh66 for the updates

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MASTODON LEVIATHAN reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
Atlanta’s MASTODON made quite the thundering debut with 2002’s “Remission,” an album that sounded like a herd of ancient pachyderms rampaging across the Siberian tundra en masse with such force that the very ground below them quaked and split the continents in two. The album introduced a new kind of progressive sludge to the metal universe and excelled at creating murky dark soundscapes that added touches of suffocating atmospheric gloom and doom. The story of MASTODON has been pretty much that it incrementally at a snail’s pace slinked into more accessible stylistic approaches that would de-emphasize the chaotic paranoia and settle into more streamlined even melodic approaches. This trend began all the way back on the group’s second full-length release LEVIATHAN.

It’s more accurate to state that the band made some tradeoffs. While jettisoning the fear porn of the debut, the band instead adopted characteristics of the progressive world and on LEVIATHAN the band’s very first concept album was born which was loosely based on Herman Melville’s 1851 novel Moby-Dick. While taming the wild antics of the debut album, LEVIATHAN by no means slowed things down and continued a rampaging parade of ten sonic attacks of sonic ferocity well intact. Decorated with more progressive compositional workouts and tight consistent instrumental interplay, LEVIATHAN was the album that saw the band taking both the progressive and metal world’s by storm and catapulted the band into the big boys’ club. Laced with the raging angst of hardcore crust punk and the ambitiousness of tech metal wankery, MASTODON hit the scene like a derailed train colliding with an anvil factory.

With the first hard-hitting riffs of “Blood And Thunder,” MASTODON sets the tone for LEVIATHAN that never lets up until the bitter end. Laced with venomous guitar distortion and interchange of Brent Hinds’ and Bill Kelliher’s dual double axe attack, MASTODON takes the timbre-based sinew of sludge metal and coerces it into performing technical gymnastics that subtly sneak in and steer the aggressive assaults into more advanced creatures. The tracks seamlessly blend together with an idiosyncratic series of riffing made all the more outrageous by Brann Dailor’s approach of alternating the lazy slug drumming experience in the Eyehategod school of drumming along with more tech infused jazzy outbursts. Brett Hinds also delivers his madman vocal approach from under the cacophonous din of the relentless tempo drives save the short instrumental contrasts as heard on the intro and subsections of “Seabeast.”

Another interesting factor and what ties the band’s first four albums together is that each one symbolizes one of the four elements of tetralogy. While “Remission” was not a concept album, it was still considered to have the theme of the element of fire. LEVIATHAN therefore not surprisingly represents the water element however the turbulent paths forged throughout this relentless metal madness is more like the Drake’s passage between South America and Antarctica which is known to have the most devastating channels and highest waves on the entire planet. Of interest as well is the stunning artwork on the album cover created by Paul Romano which is a revamped version of Martin Heemskerck’s 16th century interpretation of the “Pharos of Alexandria” as well as the wave representing Hokusai’s “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa.” It’s also notable that the vinyl edition has a different track listing with “I Am Ahab” and “Island” appearing toward the end of the album, presumably so that the tracks could be spaced out more cozily.

Of the ten tracks on board, “Heart’s Alive” exercises the band’s complete progressive workouts and at 13 and a half minutes runs the gamut of tender arpeggiated sequences to galloping metal fury and a healthy dose of Viking metal mythos as well as NWOBHM sensibilities. While Brent Hinds is the clear lead vocalist of the band, on LEVIATHAN, Neil Fallon picks up the task on the opening “Blood And Thunder” and Scott Kelly likewise on “Aqua Dementia,” but you know what? They all growl alike so it’s unlikely you could tell the difference anyways. “Aqua” also has a cello cameo and the final instrumental features organ by Joseph Merrick who strangely has the track named after him. Some kind of endorsement scheme here? My mind is so suspicious. Back to “Hearts Alive.” Despite it being the longest track it doesn’t seem to make the most of the progressive opportunities and actually becomes a big stagnant, however LEVIATHAN is an outrageously fun romp through the world of stampede style sludge metal with a few progressive candles channeling the spirits of technical wizardry. A great album that continues the band’s unique style.
The Crow
Second full-length Mastodon's album and here is where they really showed all their potential, and this original way to understand metal!

The style of the band very well represented in Leviathan. They make thrash metal with a lot of death metal influences, and a very original approaching to stoner rock too, giving constant surprises with groovy and catchy riffs. Like at the end of Seabeast! Being a fan of stoner (I specially love Spiritual Beggars and similar acts), I find this side of Mastodon very attractive.

However, they use not usual rhythms and structures. The songs are surprising, and the tempo is always changing. Not only in the epic Hearts Alive (a 100% progressive metal track) but also in the funny Megalodon, where a country melody is followed by a very fast speed metal section. The complex Aqua Dementia, the intricate verses on Island. This album is a real pleasure for tech metal fans.

The sound of the guitars is a bit odd, but it is great for the music and the concept of the album. They have sometimes a sailor mood, like on the beginning of Megalodon. Is incredible how this band, with these compact and hard compositions, are able to give every song a new texture, making a coherent progression of the history through the album. I also like their acoustics. In Joseph Merrick they made another bizarre song, with this dirty guitars and tired keyboards... However, it is just brilliant!

Brann Dailor, the drummer, also deserves a special mention here. He is just one of the better drummers in metal today. His incredibly fast drumming and his surprising rhythms make the sensation of that you are hearing a jam session by a genius... Every time I listen this album, I discover new things in the work of this man in Leviathan. His sound is a bit ugly, and a bit too high. However, for the speed of his drumming, maybe it is not possible to get a better sound, because the drumsticks of this guy must run at the speed of light!

Best Tracks: Blood and Thunder (obscure, epic and catchy opening...), Seabeast (the final riff is my favorite of the album), Iron Tusk (just love the whole song), Megalodon (it's crazy, and it is wonderful) and of course Hearts Alive (the longer track is of course very progressive, epic and it shows the whole band's potential)

Conclusion: Mastodon is one of the most surprising metal acts appeared in the last years. They have achieved a very original sound, mixing a lot of genres and influences, but mixing them so brilliantly that you will not notice it. They are powerful, refreshing and unique. And Leviathan is their best album to date, surpassing the very good but a bit flawed Blood Mountain.

Very recommended band and album!

My rating: ****

P.S.: this review was originally written for ProgArchives.com and rewritten to be included here.
Unitron
"Into sight 60,000 years of light, fascination with a mountain put to sea. Built to slay and conquer, all with teeth of beasts."

...and built to slay and conquer they were back in the sludge metal era of their career. Now one of the most successful metal bands of the past decade and current one, Mastodon brought back sludge metal in full force at the beginning of the 2000's. While the band has since mellowed out a bit, Mastodon once combined the intensity and pummeling force of Crowbar with the atmospheric brutality of Neurosis. Add in a bit of alternative metal in the vein of Alice in Chains or System of a Down for taste, and you've got yourself Mastodon's classic sound.

Mastodon were a pretty unique band, so these aforementioned influences are mainly just references. The majority of the album is pure raw sludgy brutality, as best exemplified in classics like "Blood and Thunder", "I am Ahab", "Naked Burn", and my personal favorite, "Iron Tusk". The experimental/alternative metal elements come along in the form of plenty of odd time signatures and rapid chromatic riffing that is played in a style akin to SoaD or other bands of similar ilk. This combination of two often separated styles is part of what gave Mastodon such a unique sound when they came out, giving a brutal yet fresh sound during a time when the metal world was still at the end of the reign of generic nu-metal bands (although those would soon be replaced by generic metalcore bands).

The only times the album lets up with the chaotic sludge attack is with the final two tracks, the nearly 14-minute long behemoth "Hearts Alive" and the classical/acoustic guitar ending "Joseph Merrick". These two tracks showcase a more experimental sound in the vein of Neurosis, albeit being more melodious. Speaking of, Neurosis's frontman Scott Kelly makes his first guest appearance on this album as he would on the band's future albums. Other guests include Clutch's Neil Fallon with additional vocals (Blood and Thunder), Matt Bayles on Organ (Joeseph Merrick), and Phil Peterson on Cello (Hearts Alive).

Only their second album, and Mastodon were already in their prime. While the following Blood Mountain is my favorite, both that and Leviathan are up there with the best sludge metal albums and are already considered modern classics. If you want some forceful and sludgy brutality that's a bit more recent than sludge masters like Crowbar and Melvins, the first three Mastodon albums are essential listening. Hope you found this review helpful, feel free to comment!
666sharon666
Time really flies doesn't it? I decided to write this review because 2014 marks ten years since Mastodon released their second album Leviathan, a record which helped catapult them up in the world to become one of the major and most known metal acts of the last decade. Here in the United Kingdom by the time this album's follow up Blood Mountain was released in 2006 Mastodon were even featured on the chart wall of my local Asda supermarket - a rare achievement for a band that up until Crack the Skye in 2009 were a band who largely used harsh vocals.

Though they've certainly mellowed out (while still being pretty heavy) and become increasingly wackier with their song titles on the more recent album The Hunter in 2011 (which looks set to continue with as yet still upcoming album Once More 'Round the Sun which is out later this month (June 2014)), Leviathan has Mastodon still firmly rooted in sludge metal. It's a proggy kind of sludge but not the full on progressive metal sound that started with Crack the Skye and fully emerged on The Hunter. The vocals by Brent Hinds and Troy Sanders can tend towards the unintelligible at times which is a slight issue for me (Island), but at other times they're clearer (Blood and Thunder) and there are also clean vocals used (Seabeast). The musicianship is the real attraction though. Aside from strong riff work the band also manage to keep the songs fresh and distinct from each other and can even catch new listeners completely off guard, as in Megalodon (I won't spoil it for those who somehow haven't heard this album yet).

Although Mastodon have gone on to produce stronger albums Leviathan remains an important release in their discography even after ten years. It is the best of the sludge metal releases and I can hear why this is generally seen as one of the best metal album's of its year. It's not quite masterpiece for me though, but still highly recommended listening.

Attribution: http://metaltube.freeforums.org/mastodon-leviathan-t3566.html
Warthur
Mastodon's sludged-out take on the classic Moby Dick take kicks off in brilliant fashion with Blood and Thunder, mashing up technical, complex playing, roaring vocals, and a singalong chant that wouldn't go amiss on one of Marilyn Manson's more enjoyable albums. The combination of the progressive and the accessible into a new and unfamiliar configuration continues throughout the album as we travel with Mastodon in pursuit of the white whale, with the fuzzy guitars of Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher unlocking choppy soundscapes reminiscent of the thrashing of the ocean in an enormous storm. It takes a few listens before the layered complexities of the album really begin to reveal themselves, but this is an album which amply rewards patience.
Kingcrimsonprog
Mastodon’s second studio album Leviathan is an absolute must have album, it contains a lot of the band’s most memorable songs and never seems to get old. Leviathan holds an interesting place in the band’s history, less extreme and brash than their debut, but less melodic and progressive than the album which proceeded it. The album has a great feel to it, almost hypnotic in places and vital and energetic in others, Leviathan contains all the ingredients that make the band great in a mix that the band haven’t repeated. Opener and lead single `Blood And Thunder,’ is an absolutely infectious song that will be stuck in your head for days at a time. Other highlights include the hypnotic and dream like `Naked Burn,’ and the heavy and diverse `Megalodon.’ The album builds towards the thirteen minute track, `Hearts Alive,’ which is one of the finest numbers in the band’s entire catalogue, atmospheric, heavy and evocative and finally ends with the haunting `Joseph Merrick.’ The musicanship on Leviathan is undeniable, the album contains all the furious drum work, unique guitar solos and twisting riffs you’d expect from Mastodon, in a package of ten immensely listenable, yet still crushingly heavy songs. If you like Mastodon there is simply no question you’ll enjoy Leviathan, one of the finest albums of the last decade.
Phonebook Eater
Mastodon is a sludge metal band from Atlanta that has increasing in popularity since the release of this 2004 release, “Leviathan”, and gained mainstream success with 2009’s “Crack The Skye”, most definitely their most accessible album so far. Before that though we have “Leviathan”, the most violent and roughest Mastodon record yet. Probably the album that perfectly captures their wild, sludgy style.

What makes Mastodon so unique in the sludge metal scene is their fast, dynamic rhythms, which in this genre aren’t particularly used. These rhythms happen mainly thanks to drummer Brenn Dailor, an excellent musician with many noticeable jazz influences. The guitars as a consequence are as well fast and powerful, with a fuzzy and typically stoner metal sound. The vocals by Brent Hinds are also very strong, sometimes they almost sound like growls; his style is very unique, and sometimes he makes this kind of nasal voice for the softer parts.

Very well, produced, “Leviathan” is a true explosion of music, power and energy. The complex and fast rhythms are what really give attitude and character to the album. But the structure of the songs are very respectable; after the explosive moments, with bursting, amp destroying guitar chord riffs, we could have some electric arpeggios, that make the musicianship quite virtuous. The choruses are more melodic, sometimes slower but almost never bringing down a notch the volume. Even in the less violent songs there’s still an energy that rarely you can find in a band, and this is why I’m loving Mastodon and “Leviathan”.

The album is very solid, containing ten, fierce, animated tracks, that will pass as Mastodon classics; from the opener “Blood &Thunder”, probably my favorite song of theirs and definitely their most representative. “Seabeast” is very original and with a somewhat catchy melody and vocals, “Iron Tusk” one of the most violent songs off this album. “Naked Burn” is a perfect example of when the band gets more melodic, but without losing any volume or energy. Special mention to “Hearts Alive”, more than thirteen minutes of time changes, many times very good, even though at times not as convincing, but definitely labels the band a bit progressive.

An album with a great and impenetrable wall of sound, that if you like the genre is absolutely essential you own.

Members reviews

ProgMetaller2112
On 2004's Leviathan (the 2nd album from Atlanta's Mastodon), the guys in the band decided that they wanted to take things a little further than they did on their previous effort(2002's Remission). On this, they had a win or go home kind of attitude. An attitude of wanting to go all out on the project. They wanted to reach out for that extra umph(inspiration) and do something that was a bit out there (with the whole Moby Dick and out at sea theme) and if you ask me, they executed it very, very well. Leviathan continued "the progression" that I talked about on the last review and will continue to talk about on subsequent releases. On this album, we see a band that still has plenty of those aforementioned musical chops to offer but we also see a band that wanted to throw in a little more than usual from the metal band. Let's how I feel about each individual track shall eh??

1) Blood an Thunder - Just like Crusher Destroyer from Remission this album opens up with a brutal, crushing piece of metal music but this song took things even further. Classic Mastodon. Even more badass than the previous album's opener. 10/10

2) I Am Ahab - A classic metal track in my opinion. It is absolutely jaw dropping. Wow. 10/10

3) Seabeast - Classic, classic old school Mastodon. Listen to those closing riffs. Wow just wow. 10/10

4) Island - Another great track but it is not nearly as captivating as the first three tracks on the album. Not a bad track at all though. It keeps with the album's theme. 8/10

5) Iron Tusk - A great and heavy track. I love how it just kicks ass. Everything from the vocals, the drums, the guitars. The band knows that it does too. It's all about the music on this one ha. It's grade A Mastodon. 10/10

6) Megalodon - This one is just insanity. Classic Mastodon in my opinion. Just listen to them go bonkers towards the ending, haha. 10/10

7) Naked Burn - A decent track but as of the first 7 tracks it is my least favorite. Something is missing here for some reason and I don't know what it is. It's not bad though. 7/10

8) Aqua Dementia - It's an intense piece of music and I like it. I give plenty of credit to it but for some reason it's not nearly as good as other songs on the album. It kind of loses footing. Don't get me wrong it is a good track though. 8/10

9) Hearts Alive - Wow, oh my. What to say about this epic?? On this one here we have a very ominous and heavy masterpiece of metal music. Prett much everything about it is fantastic, from the arrangements, to the lyrics to the music. You feel like you are lost at sea and doomed. It's much more complicated, progressive in comparison to the rest of the album but that's what I love about it. This entire track is bone-chilling and exhilarating. Just like Trilobite from Remission it too can horrify a person to the core. It's really, really great. Probably my favorite track on the album. 10/10

10) Joseph Merrick - A different (that's what I love about this band's material at times haha, they can be all out metal but also something else at times) but haunting and mysterious track. A perfect ending to the album in my opinion. I loved it. 10/10

Just like on Remission the music on this album was also really, really good but some of it was also a bit harsh and frenetic for my tastes. However, it was done with much more taste and I found myself enjoying it even more. Also, even though there were not enough clean vocals from Troy or Brent on this one too at least they tried to sound more intelligible so I have to give them some credit and the album a higher rating on the whole. As I said on my last review for 2002's Remission even though I have no real issues with growling vocals I usually like my bands to have at least some kind of melody and harmony or catchy hook to their vocals and on this album there was more of that and it was more than a welcome listen. This is the album kept me interested in Mastodon's music(it was the 2nd album I got from them after 2011's The Hunter). I feel it was also steering them in the right direction. To some, it actually is their best work(I don't believe it is though, ha). Great and grandiose album that should be talked about for years to come. 4.5 solid stars!! Peace out!!!
elder08
I downloaded this album a couple of days ago after hearing the single off the album "Seabeast". I thought this song was great and illustrated the technical ability of the band and the originality. So after I heard this song I looked up the album and listened to it. It fucking blew my mind. First off I've never heard of a metal concept album maybe I've listened to one and didnt notice it but thats beyond me. On the first track Blood and Thunder I noticed that it sounded completely different than any other song by them. Knowing what the album is based on helped with the review too. This album is loosely based on Moby Dick explaining the cover and the content of song names and lyrics. It's quite the original concept and if anything I said isnt persuading you too go out and buy this Listen to the song off the album "Hearts Alive" it is amazing.

So overall this album is nearly perfect the only problems it had was the flow into the other songs. Most concept albums have great track transistion but this was slightly falty.

Other than that slight problem I highly reccomend this album.
thellama73
I picked up this album on a whim because it looked interesting and I am a sucker for ocean music. After many listens, I feel qualified to review it. Among the legions of modern metal bands, it's hard for any one to stand out, but Mastodon does a pretty good job. Their sound is distinctive and their songwriting is strong. Some have criticized them because they are not as overtly virtuosic as many other metal bands, but I don't see why that should matter. Virtuosity for its own sake can certainly detract from the music, and Mastodon does not fall into that trap, instead choosing to create a record filled with gloriously heavy odes to Moby Dick. Iron Tusk is the most driving, and arguably most rocking song on the album, and there's no denying that if you're into metal you will enjoy this headbanging rocker. There is also plenty of great oceanic vibes, especially in the epic Hearts Alive, another album highlight. The album closer, Joseph Merrick, is a bit of a surprise, being a low key instrumental, but it is quite nice as a cooldown after the sheer heaviness that comes before. A wholly enjoyable metal album and a worthy edition to any metal collection.

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