Leviathan - Beholden to Nothing, Braver Since Then - (9.5/10)
Published on February 15, 2014
Leviathan is a progressive metal band from Colorado that was founded in the late eighties. The quintet released one EP and three full length releases during the nineties before the band disappeared. A few years ago, the band came back with a live album and a compilation record followed by a new album. It’s the second full length studio release of the band since its comeback that I’m about to review. The ambitious conceptual record is entitled Beholden To Nothing, Braver Since Then.
I must admit that I have never heard of this band before even though I’m a big fan of progressive rock and metal music. I must have done something wrong because the band’s fifth studio album simply blows me away. Despite fifteen tracks including six instrumentals and a total running time of over seventy-six minutes, this record is everything but boring. It’s an atmospheric, captivating and highly original album with one brilliant idea after the other.
Usually, progressive metal bands can always be compared to others somehow. This is not the case of Leviathan. They really sound like themselves or at least like nothing I have ever heard before. This is not only a rare strength but speaks volumes for the uniqueness of this band. To give you at least a vague comparative, this band might please you if you like the old progressive power metal records of Queensrÿche.
What is so unique about the band? One outstanding element is definitely the very appropriate use of audio samples that give some songs an epic touch and keep the whole record together. The versatile use of different keyboard passages from classic progressive rock parts to modern electronic samples is also a clear strength. Every musician is talented and every instrument has its shining moments. Some tracks are more laid back seventies progressive rock tracks while the band also adventures into heavier sounds inspired by the eighties here and there. The band mainly feels at home with a few doom, some more heavy and especially a lot of symphonic power metal influences that are employed in a very colourful way. While there are no obvious hits or outstanding numbers on the album, almost every track has some catchy hooks but also some surprising moments in form of atmospheric conceptual samples, almost folk inspired slow acoustic guitar interludes or fast paced melodic guitar versus keyboard duels. The balanced song writing is easy to digest but intellectually appealing at the same time and it grows with each spin. Only the genre’s greatest bands like Dream Theater or Rush manage to reach this kind of balance and natural flow.
Progressive metal fans should definitely check this release out. The only negative thing about this release is the slightly imperfect and not always powerful production. Let’s hope that this band soon gets the major label deal it deserves and therefor a better mastering and production for its outstanding music. Until now, this is still by far the best release of the year because it combines creativity and melody in a smoothly balanced flow. I’m quite convinced this release will make it into my top personal top twenty by the end of the year. I’m willing to check out the band’s other releases as soon as I can and you should do the same.