Regular readers will know that when it comes to picking bands to review, I’m a bit of a sucker for an interesting name, so the name Megaton Leviathan couldn’t have been any more noticeable on the review list if it had had its own little halo. What would (or indeed did) you think after clocking that magnificent monicker for the first time? Weeds in Transformers T-shirts peddling electro-metal? Men in Nike hi-tops and tight jeans riding on Municipal Waste’s coat-tails? A Mastodonian gathering of man-mountains ruining good riffs with ‘interesting’ (read: frustrating) time signatures? Whatever associations your fevered little minds may make, I’m pretty sure none of them include the words ‘atmospheric’ or ‘beautiful’. Disregard the grandiose name (incidentally, taken from Judas Priest’s Delivering The Goods, which later became the band’s motto) and be prepared to take a bit of time out to immerse yourself in this one, because it requires far more attention than the abovementioned acts.
Formed in Portland, Oregon in 2007, Megaton Leviathan’s influences span everything from doom to darkwave, and their intent is to be “loud, reverberated and magical”. Their bio sells them as more of an experience than a band, which on the surface sounds pretty arrogant and faintly pretentious, but when you press ‘Play’ and let the opening tones of ‘Water Wealth Hell on Earth’ burrow into your ears, you begin to understand how they could make such a grand claim. Andrew James Costa’s droning vocals snake in through the fug of buzzing guitar and echoing percussion before an almighty riff just before the 4-minute mark forces your head forward and then back again. The music fades out roughly halfway through the track and the remaining six-and-a-half minutes are filled by ambient noise which will prompt half of its listeners to wait breathlessly for the riff to kick back in (and it never does, the big tease), and the other half to probably skip to the next track. That said, it’s still a hypnotically doomy track that could be awe-inspiring in a live environment with the lights down low and the smoke machine going full-throttle. ‘Guns And LSD’ is a grim lament set to a melancholy melody as electronic effects (sorry, I’m not a techno-wizard) moan like a spectral choir in the background. If the opening track hadn’t already sparked images of black velvet paintings and scuffed DM’s, you should now begin to get a feel of the all-pervading air of darkwave that colours the whole album a grainy grey. Oh no, readers, this probably won’t be going on your cheerful sunny-day playlist! ‘Repeating Patterns of Love’ and ‘Time Fades’ expand on the very faintly gothicky sound: imagine the hallowed day when they make a good sequel to ‘The Crow’ (or indeed, the dreaded remake), and then think how well tracks like this would fit on the soundtrack. They’re slightly less miserable than their predecessors, still slow and dark but with small slashes of light and a wee bit more going on. Closer ‘Turlock’ picks up the tempo ever so slightly, a churning juggernaut of dark, doomy and even grungy riff charging its way through solid percussion and those ethereal vocals woven through it. Mark my words, you won’t, nay, can’t dance to MMIX, but by God will your head be nodding by the end of this album!
I spotted a meme earlier that showed Morpheus of ‘The Matrix’ musing “What if I told you not all metal is screaming or Satanic?” Bands like this suit that question perfectly, confusing the hell out of ‘tr00 metulz’ boneheads across the world with music that can absorb you and knock you sideways with nary a blastbeat nor a grunt to be found. The atmospherics draw you in like the shipwrecked to the siren, the riffs slowly peel the skin off your face and the vocals drone through your brain like the ghost of a monk who spent too many years in solitude. And at the end of it all, you open your eyes and go “Ooh… I’m just gonna play that once more…”
Megaton Leviathan Official Website: http://megatonleviathan.com
Megaton Leviathan Official Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Megaton-Leviathan/185853803548