You Leviathan Review !

The Saint

Staff member
Everybody seem to talk about that album. I've heard people say it's one of the most brilliant album in the last 20 years.

Has anyone heard it ?

'Moby-Dick' inspires metal 'Leviathan'

By JOHN DOHERTY, Special to The Standard-Times

If you're reading this in your local newspaper's arts pages, you probably aren't a heavy metal fan. Real heavy metal fans, of course, don't read local newspaper arts sections. (Though they do sometimes wad those pages up into tight balls to fuel their ritualistic torches. Arrrgh!)
So do yourself a favor: Don't think of Mastodon's "Leviathan" album as the most powerful, most perfectly imagined and best-executed metal album of the last 20 years -- which it is.
Instead, think of it as the latest in a long line of art works inspired by that most American, and most New Bedford of stories: "Moby- Dick."
According to this Atlanta-based band, "Leviathan" is a "song cycle," a loosely con-nected collection of pieces in-spired by Melville's classic story of obsession on the high seas.
That places it in the pantheon of Moby Dick spin-offs with Led Zeppelin's drum-heavy approximation of the big fish on Led Zeppelin II, and even Sena Jeter Naslund's 2000 novel "Ahab's Wife" which imagines the world of the mad captain's abandoned spouse. Even last year's Bill Murray indie, "The Life Aquatic," has "Moby-Dick" echoes.
And in using an epic tale as a jumping-off point for their music, Mastodon is also following one of heavy metal's own best traditions. In their heyday, England's Iron Maiden traded girlfriend and motorcycle songs for narra-tives on Russian calvary charges and the flight of Icarus.
Metallica's best was never about beer and good times: the death penalty, the waste of war and even the Loch Ness monster got the Metallica treatment.
In true more-is-better style, "Leviathan" contains one song that's also epic in length. "Hearts Alive," which studies, of all things, drowning at sea, clocks in at 13 minutes and 39 seconds.
But "Leviathan" is far from some classic-metal nostalgia trip. The vocals in particular -- layered choruses, growling verses -- borrow from the best of recent metal: Bay Area band Neurosis lends their lead singer for one Leviathan track.
(That makes sense. Neurosis's music, the band has said, has been influenced by the novelist Cormac McCarthy whose nihilistic and bloody turn-of-the-century westerns have been compared to Melville. ) No less authority than The New York Times featured Mastodon on its hallowed Sunday Arts section a short whille ago ("Hast Seen the New Metal Album?" Dec. 27, 2004).
"...what's fantastic about 'Leviathan' is that it sums up the last three decades of hard rock -- bludgeoning and tricky, from Metallica to Iron Maiden to King Crimson to Black Flag to Black Sabbath -- with incredible acuity, extracting a great deal about what has been most effective in them."
Pulling off an album like that, which draws from the best of metal's diverse history, is feat enough.
Bringing that to bear on Melville's masterpiece is something else altogether.
The band does it the same way classical composers have always told stories: by recreating in the music the features of the story.
Music snobs, of course, will scoff at this: heavy metal of course is talents trash, loud and formless.
Listen, though, to songs like "I Am Ahab" and "Aqua Dementia."
Mastodon stacks one deli-ciously heavy riff up after an-other, like wave sets crashing against the ship. Guitars slash and wail, mimicking lashing rain and screaming wind.
"Moby-Dick" on one level is a study of insanity and obsession. Mastodon is comfortable in that territory. On "Blood and Thunder," for instance, they don't tell the story of Ahab -- they become Ahab.
This is the type of music New Bedford doesn't have to look far to find.
The city's own Beyond the Embrace (Metal Blade Records) has recorded two albums in the style of neo-classic metal, like Iron Maiden, and made a name for themselves with accom-plished and complicated playing.
Their 2001 release, "Against the Elements," staked out the subject matter and themes bands like Mastodon also claim.
In fact, Leviathan is the album BTE should have recorded, could have recorded. Instead, last year's "Insect Song" took BTE in a different, more aggressive and frenetic direction. The album was good and so was the ambition.
But insects? Maybe, just maybe, listeners in New Bed-ford, and everywhere should take a lesson from Mastodon's "Leviathan": bigger is better.

Source: [a href=\'\' target=\'_blank\'][/a]