Review Megaton Leviathan : Past 21 Beyond The Arctic Cell
Today’s review calls for our attention to be directed towards the more mellow end of the Doom scale. Up for review we have ‘Past 21 Beyond the Arctic Cell’, the second full-length album by Portland based outfit Megaton Leviathan. The aforementioned album happened to be my first introduction to the band and, upon first listening, initial perceptions leaned towards the realms of Post-metal/Post-rock to serve as an appropriately-fitting home for their particular style of music. A quick Google follow-up sweep further revealed much more accurate labels to denote the band’s particular musical style, perhaps the term ‘doomgazer’ serving as the most fitting across the spectrum. Megaton Leviathan appears to be the sole brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Andrew James Costa, who founded the band in 2007. Several external musical contributors seem to have accompanied Costa on what may be considered a very interesting musical journey indeed, an analysis which I shall delve into further along in this review.
Megaton Leviathan‘s general movement of sound may be characterized as an evolutionary one – commencing with a single theme which is then transformed and built upon gradually with layers of varied instrumentation and effects. Songs subsequently build anticipation before soaring upwards towards a pinnacle point in an attempt to carry the listener on a parallel-run sonic voyage towards no particularly-defined destination. A complete listen of ‘Past 21 Beyond the Arctic Cell’ will reveal the band’s curiosity in experimenting with a wide range of instrumentation beyond the familiar boundaries of Metal in general, such as the beautifully-layered violin sequences on the opening track, and more interestingly, the sitar-work evident on the intro section of ‘The Foolish Man’. The employment of such varied instrumentation very much aids in differentiating them from the rest of the pack, so to speak. Megaton Leviathan display an impressive level of control over the conglomeration of various musical sources present on their album, all of which are harmoniously blended into a minimalistic yet tasteful concoction of sounds. Instrumentation aside, also of particular significance would be Costa’s unique vocal performance which plays a key role in contributing towards a spiritually-inclined atmospheric plane.
One may also notice subtleties in style variations across the 4 tracks on the album itself, however this could go one of two ways: i. the first being that of a commendable execution of musical diversity or, ii. a certain level of inconsistency from one track to the next. The most prominent comparison would be between the heavy combination of aggressive guitar-chugging and howling-chants present on the third track ‘Arctic Cell’ (I would highly recommend a listen to this album for just this track alone), in contrast to the final track on the album ‘Here Come the Tears’, which may almost be characterized as that of a downtempo post-rock ballad. The line between both these mentioned realms is a very thin one, and the choice of one over the other really just comes down to a matter of personal taste. Megaton Leviathan’s music travels at a very patient and pathless pace, and thus, if you happen to like developmental music that builds slowly in its own time, then you may find this album to be an interesting experience of emotional catharsis and exploration.
I would generally refrain from comparing a band’s current work to their former releases, however in this case an exception has been made as I believe it to be of particular significance. My curiosity led me to traipse further into the band’s previous work, particularly their debut release of 2011 entitled ‘Water Wealth Hell on Earth’. This release consists of a single mammoth-sized piece clocking in at almost over 30mins in length, and most importantly, one that I personally found to be an absolutely phenomenal and stunning feat of artistic brilliance. ‘Water Wealth Hell on Earth’ evokes such dark intensity and unrivalled passion that in comparison, it may appear that the band has decided to employ a more sophisticated and less abstract approach with their current work on ‘Past 21 Beyond the Arctic Cell’. Specific segments on their latest album do indeed showcase similar experimental tendencies evident in their former work. This very much provides the band with ample of room in the future to further explore and expand their sonic curiosity to personal satisfaction. However, in my humble opinion, I would earnestly urge the band to also consider revisiting and appropriately re-employing some of their former visionary and sonically-profound ideologies into their future creations along the respective path of Doom that they presently tread.
1. Past 21
2. The Foolish Man
3. Arctic Cell
4. Here Come The Tears
Duration : Approx. 43 minutes