Megaton Leviathan rise again, weave spacey psyche doom into ‘Past 21 Beyond the Arctic Cell’

Megaton LeviathanJust because something should be doesn’t mean it will be. We all have big ideas in our heads and things we want to accomplish. But just having those intentions doesn’t make them so, and often we have to overcome hurdles, frustrations, trials, and tribulations to see them through. People who give up likely didn’t crave their vision as badly as they initially thought.

That struggle for what you want can be applied to doom/drone project Megaton Leviathan. Here’s one of those groups that definitely does not color within the lines and stands out among many of the other bands in their crowded sub-genre designations. The band also should be far better known, as their limited output thus far has been more than stellar (especially the 2010 debut full-length “Water Wealth Hell on Earth”). But again, things don’t always turn out the way you want them to, and the band seemed to float by in a bit of obscurity. The past few years, Megaton Leviathan have had more creative ups and downs, internal conflict, and gaps where it probably seemed the band’s new record “Past 21 Beyond the Arctic Cell” never would be a thing. Luckily, sole original member Andrew James Costa Reuscher persevered and poured himself into this record. And it certainly was worth the wait and frustration, at least for the listeners.

Megaton Leviathan coverIn fact, the record morphed further from creative and recording stages, as Reuscher and Mort Subite, who mixed the record, took the thing on the road as a one-man show and visual performance piece (Subite worked to mix the audio live). They later added drummer Markus Covello to the mix, and Megaton Leviathan had again become a full fire-breathing beast. The music on this record can feel pretty weird at times, which I find intriguing, but it keeps the doom, psychedelic wonder, and dream-infusing drone in place. Reushcer’s singing continues to develop, as his sometimes detached, sometimes floating croon matches what’s going on here perfectly. I can only imagine what these songs sound like live, and hopefully I’ll have a chance to experience that. Until then, this record will have to suffice.

“Past 21” opens the album and instantly gives you a taste of what’s ahead. Trippy guitar work, hypnotic melodies, and strange, warped sounds permeate your being and could make you feel a little funny in the head. The signing feels relaxed and ensconced in the stars, and the music takes dips toward relaxing and dreamy. The song bursts anew in its final act, with emotional guitar playing that tilts back and forth from Pink Floyd at their most atmospheric and trickling deathrock. In another twist, the final moments push into folk rock territory. “The Foolish Man” has alien blips that mix into mesmerizing sitar playing, coming off like a song that should help you reach centeredness. Vocals blend in, feeling slurry and exploratory, while the guitars go boozy and easy. The music has a really strange feel to it, and the vocals match the bizarre surroundings.

“Arctic Cell” starts off with the heaviest doom crunching of the whole record, as things pound and flatten in a slow, deliberate manner, and the vocals hang in the air. The whole thing has a druggy effect, so don’t be worried if the music makes you feel numb inside or like you’re having an out-of-body experience. The guitars add even more texture to this rich piece, with the music going toward a Western setting, and then heavy chugging arises, with a bell chiming on pace, as if it’s signaling an oncoming round of souls home. Closer “Here Come the Tears” is very different idea for the record entirely, in that it’s their interpretation of the Judas Priest track from their 1977 album “Sin After Sin.” Despite the fact that I own that record, on my first stab at this review, I didn’t even realize that. Hey, it happens. Sometimes I literally need my facts fed to me by a spoon. Anyway, great take, and a really cool way to end the record.

Megaton Leviathan certainly sounds like a project that’s found its space, and this second record “Past 21 Beyond the Arctic Cell” is one hell of an adventure. The visual elements surely help this have even more impact live, so perhaps that’s the band’s ultimate setting. But there’s no reason you can’t get lost in these four sprawling epics that’ll take you into space, through frozen tundra, back toward untapped spaces of your mind and back again. Here’s hoping this album will get this band the legion of followers they deserve.

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