Leviathan: MASTODON’s whale of an album

By Israel Horta

With the rise of progressive rock and heavy metal in the early 2000s, many aspiring musicians were relentless in their pursuit to outdo each other, seeming to solidify progressive metal as the status quo, which is ironic, considering that prog in itself is meant to stand apart and be a bit more experimental in nature. However, there is one album that I and many other fans come back to; Mastodon’s sophomore
album “Leviathan.”

Formed in Atlanta, Georgia, “Mastodon” currently consists of drummer Brann Dailor, guitarists Bill Kelliher and Brent Hinds and bassist Troy Sanders. “Leviathan” was loosely based on Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick.” The record has since been named album of the year by “Kerrang!” Magazine and National Public Radio declared the album one of the most significant recordings of the decade in 2009. 

Released in 2004 via Relapse Records, I do believe the album to be a strong contender for this band’s magnum opus. With tracks like “Blood and Thunder,” “I am Ahab” and “Seabeast,” “Leviathan” finally finds Mastodon’s unique blend of multiple metal subgenres, and was immediately polarizing hardcore fans and casual listeners alike. The technicality of the playing and the uber-experimental musical structure had turned the metal community on its head.

This particular album is an acquired taste, and I didn’t even fully appreciate this album’s complexity upon first listen. I initially shrugged it off as your typical bandwagon release from an unknown artist, until years later when I gave it another shot around the beginning of high school. At that time, I had heard “I am Ahab” and I heard a fresh new take on prog, seemingly blending elements of death metal, thrash and even some southern rock. 

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