It's pretty difficult to seperate any of the Atlanta quartet's three studio albums proper, but personally I think this one pips it. While 'Blood Mountain' has the vision & 'Remission' had that live organic dirty feel, 'Leviathan' is possibly the best example of Mastodon's unique gift for heavy music.
Every one of the 10 tracks on this, dare i say it, masterpiece, combines odd time signatures, interwoven guitar passages & drums that simply pummel your mind. It's no secret that drummer Brann Dailor is a jazz octopus, but on this album he really shines, clearly reigning in the wild freestyle of 'Remission' just a touch. Again the time signature switches of previous tracks such as 'March of the Fire Ants' has been controlled to provide a more cohesive experience for the first few listens. Having said that, there is plenty of depth to tracks such as 'Seabeast' & the epic thirteen odd-minute 'Hearts Alive' & who can resist the good ol'boy southern riff half way through 'Megalodon'? Made me smile anyway.
Relapse records certainly knew a good thing when they saw it, allowing several guest appearances including Scott Kelly from Neurosis. Opener 'Blood & Thunder' also contains a cracking guest vocal from Clutch frontman Neil Fallon with the anthemic 'Split your lungs with blood & thunder'. It really is first class stuff.
'Leviathan' is the perfect showcase for the bands over all talent & paved the way allowing them to experiment more with the next album. With a concept losely based on Melville's 'Moby Dick' & a brillant cover conveying a certain painting described in the book, this is a piece of art with brains & passion. A fierce, heavy monster, ultimately for any metal fan, absolutely essential.