Most metal heads have at some point in their lives fallen out of love with metal. A new non-metal love interest comes along, a career change, ear fatigue or the theft/sale of a treasured collection are all known contributing factors to the flame flickering out. For me it was the result of giving up the unhealthy anger that had weighed so heavily on my life. Like many a metal head, I entered this sacred space as a hormonal teenager full of aggression at the poverty I was born into. Metal nurtured my broken spirit, galvanized my heart and gave me a new vocabulary and rhythm with which to articulate my inner most thoughts. And then, a friend asked: “Dude, why are you so angry?”. It was a good question, after all, I was no longer living in poverty, I had beautiful family and friends, I was happy.
So my anger began to unravel and along with it, my relationship with metal. So much time spent together and yet such a fragile foundation. Many people move on. They put metal in a box, through it out in the garbage, assign it to a t-shirt shamefully hidden in the closet. I have always liked music, so breaking with metal meant that I could dig deeper into dance, hip hop, jazz, funk and blues. While all of this was refreshing, it did not seem to satisfy in the same way as metal had. I still wasn’t angry, and didn’t need to be, yet there was an inescapable metallic resonance I couldn’t shake. But to “go back” to metal, after falling out of love would have been foolish. After all, there was no foundation and if it was for nostalgia’s sake only, then what a waste. I cannot say how, nor why, nor when exactly, but there was a zeitgeist moment where like its namesake, Mastodon’s Leviathan slowly rose out a sea of metal ignorance.
I felt the ripple of that powerful and ancient cetacean as it began to rise. I swayed with the roil even after I watched the sea roll off its murky white forehead. And when the swell rose into waves and I had been thrown into liquid darkness, I turned away. Yet on my back, I felt the steel gaze pushing until it hurt, forcing me to see. And there it was, the leviathan’s single eye perched above the freezing liquid obsidian. It took only a single moment, and it was immediately apparent. There was more to this than anger, more to this than hunger, more to this than confusion. This was real, this was unknown and this was what I had fallen in love with.
The leviathan roared, surged then lept from the sea, hurling me the distance of continents, thrashing everything I thought I had known off the walls of neglected mental rooms and leaving me stranded on a familiar yet foreign island.A month ago, I listened to Leviathan in full for the first time in several years. It did the same again. In addition to being an innovative, refreshing and memorable metal album, it is also available as an affordable single platter vinyl with some of the best cover art in this game.