Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Split Your Guts With Blood And Thunder

Mastodon – Leviathan

Blood Mountain that came after it, Leviathan is a hardcore (as in punk) concept album with a mythic aspect. However unlike Blood Mountain's opaque and difficult to interpret story, Leviathan is based on the novel Moby Dick, which makes a surprisingly good accompaniment to their brand of spastic yet epic metal.

Musically this album is not quite to the standard they achieved with the next album but it's still very good. Where Blood Mountain schizophrenically leapt from genre to genre, Leviathan stays on a pretty even keel of powerful, chugging hardcore throughout, save for the occasional country or jazz flourish. The riffs are still fucking brilliant, but in composition the songs on this album don't live up to those of their successor, and about midway through the album I usually start to feel a little unsatisfied by the failure of the music to progress meaningfully beyond one incredibly mean riff after another.

It doesn't help that the two standout songs on the album come at either end of it. Leviathan opens with the stunning 'Blood and Thunder', three minutes of the meanest fucking riffs you've ever heard arranged perfectly to create the toughest, most menacing sensation you'll ever associate with an 19th century novel. It sets a high standard which unfortunately isn't matched until the second to last track, the quarter hour epic 'Hearts Alive' which ebbs and swells over it's ponderous running time before erupting into a mighty climax, complete with an orgasmically triumphant guitar solo.

For the technically minded there's plenty of nice guitar work and drumming to be admired. While it's not as good as Blood Mountain it's still a very worthwhile purchase as the songs all stand really well on their own. It's just a bit unfortunate that the album as a whole suffers from a little too much homogeneity. Still, it really made me want to read Moby Dick!

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