New Feature: Epic Album of the Week
Written by Ian Gerber
For The Soda Shop
Ok guys, here’s the skinny. Every week I’m going to write up a post about an EPIC album. It’s a simple concept, really, but here’s where it’s going to get interesting… I might write about Blonde on Blonde, Kind of Blue, and most definitely at some point At the Fillmore. Maybe for next Christmas, Holy Mountain, but don’t count on it. You see, us “stoner rockers” get a pretty bum rap when it comes to being stylistically diverse. You know what I mean… “Beards and Riffs”? Well, I for one, as a member of the bearded brethren would like to put that one to rest. I’m open to suggestions, including un-signed bands and independent records. Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Facebook. So without much further ado… this weeks EPIC ALBUM is Mastodon’s ‘Leviathan’.
Alright, so the story begins like this…
2002, the summer after senior year of high school (this is a good start, right?).
Nu-Metal is raging on the local “Rock” stations. After putting up with a few years of this disgusting display of down-tuned, seven string, gelled hair, fake dreadlocks, baggy bondage pants from hot topic, dj incorporating, mad-at-yer-dad, rap rock bullshit, I had enough. Through the return of the Headbangers Ball and their first sampler cd, I was turned on to this little known band called Mastodon. I recognized much of their company on the cd, and the possibilities of me liking it was grim….and then, behold…MARCH OF THE MUTHAFUCKIN’ FIRE ANTS!!! I was hooked. CDs were purchased and websites were favorited. Mastodon was the new go to band when the question of “what do you want to listen to” came up in the car. I had to have more…
My buddy picks me up and has news for me. He had just bought the new Mastodon album. “Dude, I don’t think you are going to like it.” “Shit. What did they do? It’s only their second record!” I mean, I had just saw them with said buddy at a warehouse on the shady side of my hometown, where they played the most incredible set of heavy music I had ever seen to a crowd of 20 people who had just sat through 15 AWFUL bands until 2 in the morning (you know the show), hoping the promoter wasn’t lying. Fortunately, the first 10 seconds of Leviathan proved my buddy wrong and settled my fear. It was incredible.
From Blood and Thunder’s opening thrash riff and Neil Fallon’s guest performance (might I add, I was NOT a Clutch fan at the time), I was hooked. “I think that someone is trying to kill me, infecting my blood and destroying my mind!” Yes, yes I did. Their name was Mastodon. They had not let up on their pounding, woolly stride. Whether it was the INCREDIBLE artwork, the only screamed and hollered vocals that I have ever liked, or the chugging, sludgy riffs that segued into trademark, southern rock, dual harmonies, Mastodon had just harpooned the heart of Nu-Metal…”I am Ahab.” By the time you get to the 13 minute, prog, psychedelic, masterpiece that is Hearts Alive, you know that the whale has won, and you must reach for something that floats if you are to make it to see another day.
I read Moby Dick, and let me tell you, it did not rock near as hard as the record. Unfortunately (queue hate mail), none of their other albums after Leviathan have either. This is the gem in their catalog. The record where Mastodon’s talents, ambition, and pure fucking brutality aligned and the world started to listen. From this record, my buddy and I found stoner rock and the rest is history. We started listening to High on Fire, Neurosis, The Hidden Hand, and eventually made it to Sleep and beyond. It holds a special place in my heart. Take notes you high school headbangers and college stoners, there are few modern records that actually have the legs to chase down that white whale, the holy grail and take on the pure EPIC quality of Leviathan.
Blood and Thunder – Mastodon