or all the possible fault and praise that you could level towards the Republican party, you have to acknowledge at least one thing: they’re incredibly good at what they do. They set goals and they accomplish them. Pity, then, that so many unintended consequences arise out of their actions. And while it’s a tad labored, it seems like the metaphor fits for Mastodon in this instance. Here’s a band that sets out to rock. And they do it incredibly well. In fact, they do it too well. Pity, then, that the unintended consequence is a marveling at their ability to rock at the expense of their immediate visceral impact.
Admittedly, it’s hard not to ignore it. The sound of Leviathan, their remarkably composed second album for Relapse, is an organic dream. There are few rough edges to be smoothed out because everything slots neatly into place. Don’t get me wrong: the riffs are aggressive and as technical as anything you may hear this year and possibly even better than their stellar debut, Remission. That being said, the effect of the record is something that washes over you in a dream. So perfectly obvious and obviously perfect that it almost doesn’t bear mentioning.
Which, you know, may be the highest compliment that I can give it. I mean, “Iron Tusk” is a completely satisfying grind-stoner bleat of epic metal guitar work. But you’d never think to pull it out of a crowd and thrust it into someone’s face. You’d probably just remember it if you were reminded of it. “Oh yeah, that album was good! Maybe I should go back and listen to that some more.”
So, it puts me in a weird position of wholeheartedly recommending this album (anyone who’s looking for more of the ideas put forth on Remission rest in the knowledge that this will satiate you for another few years), but also hard-pressed to wholeheartedly recommend this album (anyone who has Remission: why bother plunking down more money for something that will inevitably be satisfying the same sort complex-drummin’ and complex-strummin’ that you’ve already been rocking out to for two years?). What I can say is this: within its genre it’s one of the finest albums that will be released this year and as a live band you can’t quite help but get swept up in their thrall no matter how many times you’ve seen them. Kind of like the Republican party, if you think about it.