MASTODON - Leviathan
September 8, 2004, 16 years ago
Relapse might have a busy next few months on their hands, given masterpieces by Dillinger Escape Plan and now Mastodon upsetting metal's apple carts in two different, near thrilling ways. To the point at hand, Leviathan, like the white whale for which it speaks, is a huge triumph, Mastodon using their dizzying chops (scribe Bruni wisely calls this album "Moving Pictures for the 21st century) in pursuit of swirling, ebbing and flowing songs of the roiling evil-housing sea, the band nightmarishly and abstractly lifting the mental madness of Herman Melville's Moby Dick for use in their hooky yet complex songs. But there is a focus here. This isn't math rock; it's more like two leaps beyond what's hot now, an almost settling down of mathcore's jittery waywardness into songs that are to last like Maiden's 'Rime Of The Ancient Mariner', a song similar in epic feel and creaks and groans and cinematic eventfulness as this whole album is. And if this ain't the goddamn nicest booklet I've seen in years... rich with colour (including metallics), cohesion between the pages, cohesion with the ethereal, elevated, almost divine quality of the music and words, which tackle Melville's larger themes of obsession, insanity and the slippery definitions of good and evil the world conjures. One complaint: for one of the greatest percussive performances ever pressed to plastic, I find the drums mixed a bit back, the snare a bit too highly tuned, the overall production a bit square and midrangey. But still, maybe that's how it has to be, to let each guy's bizarre and bountiful creative blessings breathe.