SOUNDTRACK: MASTODON-Leviathan (2004).
This is the CD that started it all. Well, for me and Moby Dick- related music, anyhow. My friend Andrew asked if I would be reviewing it along with Moby Dick. And, yes I am.
Leviathan is sort of a concept album about Moby Dick. I say sort of because it’s not entirely about Moby Dick. The opener, “Blood and Thunder” features the chorus: “White Whale. Holy Grail. And it also features lyrics that seem to come straight from the book: “break your backs and crack your oars, men.” There’s also the tracks “I am Ahab” and “Seabeast,” the latter features the lyrics: “Dear Mr Queequeg you have been informed your life’s been saved”
And yet, not everything is about Melville’s saga: “Island” bears no resemblance that I can see and the final track, a slow instrumental is called Joseph Merrick (who was the elephant man).
Musically the disc runs from bludgeoning metal (“Island”) to complex and intricate bludgeoning metal (“Iron Tusk,” which features a stereophonic drum solo opening). “Blood and Thunder” has some great catchy riffs with some vocals that demand a lyric sheet for clarity. “I am Ahab” features some extended vocal notes! But there’s more to it than that. “Seabeast” has a great slow intro guitar solo and features a two different vocalists to very good effect.
And the whole disc is chock full of time changes, crazy drum fills (how can he play so many different drums so quickly?). “Megalodon” has a great odd guitar riff in the middle break section (and has nothing to do with Moby Dick at all).
As you near the middle of the album you get a couple of amazingly complex tracks. “Naked Burn” features a great melodic middle section (coupled with really catchy vocals, too). And the highlight is the thirteen plus minute “Hearts Alive.” It begins as a very pretty acoustic guitar piece. After about two minutes the heavy guitars kick in and there’s several different middle sections with varying degrees of melody. By the midway point we’ve heard a few more very beautiful picked guitar sections, until it ends with some strong heavy guitar chords that slowly fade away.
So it’s a super heavy progressive rock/speed metal concept album for people who don’t like real concept albums (but who like their metal literate). Who would have guessed it would have made so many best of the year lists?
[READ: Week of June 28, 2010] Moby-Dick [Chapters 111-End]
The end is here and BOY did I not see that coming. I honestly had no idea how the book ended (how is it I knew the basics of the story but didn’t know the ending? Talk about everyone agreeing to the spoiler alert!). The other thing that surprised me was how damned exciting those last 70 pages were. Now it could be a simple build up from the slowly paced early chapters–we were all lulled by the waves and the diversions–but man, when Melville wanted to, he produced the goods. If you want young people to read this book, just assign them the last 70 pages. I realize that all the art and such will be lost, but if they read just the end parts, they’ll come away with a much better perception of the book, and maybe they’ll want to read the rest later. [I’m not a fan of abridged things of course, so I’d want them to read the original full text, just the end of it].
And I absolutely cannot believe [spoiler alert–okay the whole post is a spoiler, even if I didn’t know, the book is over 150 years old, so chances are you may have heard…] (more…)
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