“This is the band that all others will be judged by for the remainder of the decade.” Rob Milz TMO
First off I would like to say this to Alex, change my favourite album cover on my bio to the cover of MASTODON’s newest Masto-piece: “Leviathan”. By far the most awesome cover I have ever seen! For some reason I am partial to seascapes, preferably ones with turmoil, storms and especially scenes of Ahab’s legendary battle with the scariest sperm whale in history, Moby Dick. Hmm, I must’ve been a seaman in my previous life... eh huh huh huh...I’ve been watching Beavis and Butthead too much, seriously.
Anyways, MASTODON, who are they? Where did they come from? What are they? Hailing from Atlanta, they are a monster disguised as a quartet of musicians, bringing with them a new breed of music big enough to give Heavy Metal the much needed quickening long overdue. This is the band that all others will be judged by for the remainder of the decade, no question about that.
Just looking at these guys, you can already tell that these are not you’re average, run-o-the-mill, black shirt, long haired Metalheads. Not that being a black shirted, long haired Metalhead is a bad thing, these guys just kind of have a bit of an unorthodox image I guess you could say when compared to the standard Metal image, and I dig it. For example, lead singer/bassist Troy Sanders kinda has this hippie vibe goin’ on, drummer Brann Dailor and guitarist Bill Kelliher both sport the greaser/biker look, and guitarist Brent Hinds looks like the Ed “Big Daddy” Roth version of a hippie...Bigger, meaner and heavily tattooed. Now, I know that image doesn’t mean shit, I’m just pointing out the fact that it’s good to see a breath of fresh air and something different in the world of metal when it comes to the way Metalheads are dressing...especially when it doesn’t involve Adidas track pants, Puma shoes and a basketball jersey.
Alright, what is this, the Joan Rivers Red Carpet review? On with the music! Both Dailor and Kelliher are ex-members of Hardcore band TODAY IS THE DAY. The two moved to Atlanta, GA from New York where they met Sanders and Hinds at a HIGH ON FIRE show put on by Hinds in his own basement (Awesome!). The four began playing together, and soon they discovered an unmatched chemistry with one another providing an uncanny ability to write mind-blowing songs that seemingly grab the listener and pull them through a story in the bands own musical narration. In this case the story is based upon the Herman Melville story of Moby Dick, the fictional story of Ahab, a deranged sea captain, and his battle with a monstrous white sperm whale. This story inspired drummer Brann Dailor after he read a passage in the book that referred to Moby Dick as “The Salt Sea Mastodon”.
Now, one of the most common comments made about MASTODON is that they sound like METALLICA and RUSH. That, my friends, was the comment from MTV. Just shows you right there how much they know, or don’t know is more like it. (Eeww, METALLICA mixed with RUSH, I don’t know which would be worse, that or AUDIOSLAVE mixed with LINKIN PARK.) You know they (MTV) put this album on, listened to the beginning of the first song, beginning of the second song and the opening of track #9 (“Hearts Alive”) and that’s it. They have no business reviewing albums like this anyway. Man I hate MTV...more than just about anything, they know nothing about music, not to mention their programs make Aaron Spelling look like he should have won the Nobel Peace prize years ago.
MASTODON sound nothing like METALLICA with the exception of the opening of “Hearts Alive” having a “Call Of Ktulu” vibe to it, but that’s it. And two, some of the tempos and time signatures will definitely remind you of RUSH, but that’s only the beginning... How about the complexity of TOOL throughout the whole record, really shining on “Naked Burn” or every song laced with little bits and pieces of Hinds country twang here and there that just seem to reach up and goose you just before all hell breaks loose, as heard on “Megalodon”. All driven by Dailor’s jazz/progressive influenced drumming melded seamlessly with Sanders’ bass-work. Topped off with the Meat-n-potatoes, Gibson straight through a Marshall tone of Bill Kelliher, while Sanders tells the tale switching from his relentless growl, to clean, to in between the two. The mixture of talent found herein produces sound so heavy, that it’s worthy only of a name such as MASTODON.
The calm to this storm comes in the form of an instrumental entitled “Joseph Merrick” which proves to be a beautiful closer to the album. Reminiscent of a long lost session JIMMY PAGE perhaps once did with PINK FLOYD, with Physical Graffiti in your face and FLOYD-like keyboards sadly weeping in the background, just enough to remind you that the journey that was, is and always will be “Leviathan” has reached it’s sunset, but a sunset that carries not with it forlorn, as all you need do is push play, the dawn of Leviathan is upon you once more. \m/ . (Online October 25, 2004)