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|Posted 15-02-2005 18:19 by Chelman
Leviathan 2004 Relapse
Mastodon's first EP, Lifesblood, had so completely failed to impress me that I had no recollection of the band's sound other than a dim memory of being slightly annoyed by its utter lack of distinction. As such, my expectations weren't very high when I embarked on the discovery of this pelagic concept album, and I must say the band didn't disappoint on this count: they are exactly as mediocre and prodigiously unremarkable as I thought they would be. At the risk of exposing myself to flurries of misspelled hate email in all caps, I shall now elaborate on why that is the case.
But let's stop for a moment and describe the music as best I can, lest I get chastised for my lackadaisical dismissal of a very popular album. The songs are essentially hoarsely-bellowed, semi-technical, relatively fast post-Sabbath sludge thrash/death with a lot (and I mean a LOT) of drum fills. The influence of early 1990s rock/metal sensibilities is clearly apparent here and there, and the band has clearly listened to a lot of classic metal, as evidenced by their (ugly) Gibson SG rhythm guitar tone and harmonized lead lines. I also suspect Pestilence got some airplay during the musicians' formative years.
In principle, there's nothing wrong with that combination of influences and styles, and the album could very well be quite enjoyable. Alas, quite the opposite is true. First of all, that singer has one of the worst set of pipes in the business. I'm all for hoarse vocals when they fit the music (Isis, for example, sounds perfect with hoarse shoutgruntbellowyells) and when the vocal delivery itself is compelling. But this guy just sounds like an old lush with strep throat, and you get the feeling the band elected to have hoarse vocals because everybody else is doing that right now, so why exercise a bit of creativity and come up with something else when the default settings work well enough, eh?
And what about that oh-so-great drummer who seems to make every metal fan's underwear all twisty and soggy? Well, he's quite simply the epitome of tasteless overplaying: every single thing he does is a fill, and he leaves absolutely no breathing space in the music at all, thereby completely stripping the songs of any sense of dynamics they may have if he didn't play so damn much. He's the drum equivalent of an all-night Yngwie Malmsteen solo jam session, without any of the fiery brilliance Yngwie is (or used to be) capable of mustering on occasion.
The songs themselves wouldn't be so terrible if it weren't for their excessive repetitiveness ("I am Ahab") or the fact that other people in Seattle wrote the same vocal lines 10 years ago, and they weren't all that to begin with ("Seabeast"). If that weren't enough, the album's production is teeth-gnashingly hideous, with shrill rhythm guitars, trebley drums and underprocessed lead guitar sounds. A raw, organic production can be wonderful, but this is definitely not the kind of album that benefits from grainy lead guitar sounds, particularly not in harmonies.
Every one of this album's ten plodding songs is a monument to the undistinguished, and the record as a whole reaches previously uncharted heights of middling mediocrity. Once again, Relapse brilliantly confirms their inability to release a single album worth listening to. A complete waste of time and airwaves, and best avoided with all your might.
Hehe. Een leuke review. Ik deel de mening van de schrijver niet helemaal, maar het is wel een leuke kijk van 'de andere kant'.
KOSOVO JE SRBIJA! SVETA SRPSKA ZEMLJA !