Sound — 10
Sounding totally different to virtually every other band out there, Mastodon have struck gold with their follow-up to 'Remission', their 2001 debut. In terms of of sound, 'Leviathan' picks up where 'Remission' left off, although the band seem much more confident with their blurring of genres and time signitures within off-kilter song structures. No longer do the band sound like they are "trying" to be different; now all aspects of their unique sound seem to have been perfectly merged into a natural whole. The band take influences from traditional metal and rock acts such as Metallica and Rush, as well as their contempories Neurosis and Clutch, both of whom make guest appearances on 'Leviathan'. Mastodon have also been chosen to support Slipknot and Slayer, along with Hatebreed on the Unholy Alliance European Tour in October 2004, although quite how they fit on that bill and how the "maggots" will react is a total mystery to me! As far as playing ability is concerned, Mastodon are one of the most confident and tight musical units playing today, led by the incredible drumming of former Today is the Day sticksman Brian Dailor, whose skills sound like that of a man possessed. The rhythm section is completed by Bassist/Vocalist Troy Sanders, whose bass playing goes well beyond the standard of most bands, echoing the late Cliff Burton at times. Guitarists Brent Hines and Bill Kelliher both have serious chops, be it thrash metal of Hank Williams country and western riffs.
Lyrics — 10
'Leviathan' is a concept album based upon Herman Melville's literary masterpiece Moby Dick, telling the story of Captain Ahab's quest for the White Whale. The lyrics are emotive and stirring, bringing to mind Metallica's early work such as 'The Thing That Should Not Be'. In terms of vocal delivery, Sanders and Hines share the majority of the work using vocals equal parts melody, agression and emotion. On the whole the album is less lyrically repetitive and more melodic than 'Remission', with much more vocal experimentation. The guest work by Niel Fallon and Scott Kelly fits well and adds more texture to 2 of the album's best tracks- brutal opener 'Blood and Thunder' and the epic 14-minute 'Hearts Alive'.
Overall Impression — 10
Christ, I love this album! Roll on No3!