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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mastodon - "Leviathan" (Relapse Records, 2004) [Key Tracks: Blood and Thunder, Hearts Alive, I am Ahab]
"I think that someone is trying to kill me...Infecting my blood and destroying my mind! No man of the flesh could ever stop me... The fight for this fish is a fight to the death. White whale - holy grail. What remorseless emperor commands me, I no longer govern my soul! I am completely immersed in darkness as I turn my body away from the sun... White whale - holy grail. Split your lungs with blood and thunder when you see the white whale; Break your backs and crack your oars, men, if you wish to prevail! This ivory leg is what propels me... Harpoons thrust in the sky, Aim directly for his crooked brow and look him straight in the eye! White whale - holy grail"
I immediately recognized "Blood and Thunder" as a 5 Star song. There have been so few 5 Star ANYTHING in the last 10 years... especially on major labels. So I was suprised as I got into Mastodon to find that not only are they an epic metal band, but that they are also epic song writers. And "Leviathan," a concept album based loosely around Melville's "Moby Dick" is a 4 1/2 Star LP. Not since the early Metallica days has metal been this fantastic, heavy and cranial, innovative and yet so familiar to the genre, and I would say, for all the world to hear, that MASTODON IS 100% BETTER THAN METALLICA EVER WAS! You heard it hear first.
Carl's Favorite Songs - #28 - Outshined by Soundgarden
It was hard to get my hands on this LP. Even among the endlessly loyal metal fans, there was a lack of willingness to share. Underpressed and overvauled, getting a copy of this LP secured my collection as one of the upper-deck record libraries of forgotten lore. The sleeve is filled with gorgeous mythological paintings of the white whale and the gods of the sea conspiring to thwart Everyman and Ahab alike, its a piece of beauty as well as a piece of Aenid-grade metal. There is a picture disk pressing floating about which is easier to grab, but be warned... pictures disks sound a little bland, and contrary to what you may think, the art on the gatefold standard release is much, MUCH better represented than the truncated, blurry art of the pic disk.
I find myself trying to explain how powerful and beautiful this stuff is to you all, realizing if you don't like metal, you'll never understand. If you hate anything harder than White Lion, you will not like this. But if you lean heavy, even in your past glory days, this is a must listen (as is its follow up "Blood Mountain"). When they assemble the catalog of LPs that shook the world (of metal), this will no doubt be on there. And if it isn't, the single for "Blood and Thunder" (featuring otherworldly heavy guest vocals by Neil Fallon of Clutch) damn well better be.
Horns up!


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