Saturday, January 5, 2013

January 5th, 2013 - A Whale Of A Good Pairing!

Who would have thought that Herman Melville's seminal 1851 novel, "Moby-Dick" would be the subject matter of a heavy metal album in 2004... but that's exactly what American metal band Mastodon took on with a big helping of boldness and artistic vision.  Hey gang!  The Meista here with another pairing for you.  Today I've got Mastodon's "Leviathan" spinning whilst I sip a Sierra Nevada Narwhal Imperial Stout.

Employing multiple metal genres and sub-genres like groove, sludge/doom, stoner, avante-garde, and death, Mastodon in one of the innovators of the modern metal scene.  With "Leviathan," their second full-length album, Mastodon focused on creating a concept project.  Lyrically it focuses on the thoughts and actions of the main characters of Melville's "Moby-Dick" and musically on the conceptualization of the turbulence of a stormy sea as sound... all-in-all a powerhouse of complexity and depth to be sure!  Of the album, guitarist Bill Kelliher stated in an interview that it represents "the water element, in keeping with elemental quadrilogy" of concept album approach.  Every song on "Leviathan" is richly textured and layered, intensely powerful, and utterly compelling.  Opener "Blood And Thunder" is an instant metal classic with fantastically intense, mortar shell exploding drumming by Brann Dailor, thunderously driven bass by Troy Sanders, machine-gun fire guitar attack by Kelliher and Brent Hinds, as well as insanely aggressive vocals by Sanders, Hinds, and Dailor.  And it doesn't stop there!  Tracks like "I Am Ahab," "Seabeast," "Island," "Iron Tusk," "Megalodon," "Naked Burn," "Aqua Dementia," and "Hearts Alive" are all explosive underwater beasts of profundity and shear power.  The album ends with the hauntingly beautiful instrumental "Joseph Merrick." And how about that album cover?!  WOW!!  Beautiful!!

For such a bold and complex album, I decided I needed an equally bold and complex ale... and the whale theme doesn't hurt either!  :)  The Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is essentially "Leviathan" in a bottle.  It is inspired by the illusive and mysterious horned whale that "dwells in the deepest Arctic seas" and the black nights of the Russian winters.  The flavors are big, bold, complex, richly layered, and encompassing.  The Narwhal pours a deep black chocolate with a 1 to 2-finger, well-sustained and frothy, mocha-colored head.  The nose is rich and complex.  There are notes of cocoa bean, rich soil, and espresso.  The taste is multi-layered as well with deep roasted malt flavors and velvety chocolate.  There are flavors of dark roast Colombian coffee mixed with baker's bitter-sweet dark cocoa, subtle and well-blended bourbon notes, and a hint of black licorice.  Full-bodied and coming in at 10.2% ABV, the Narwhal is a completely engaging and engrossing ale.  You've got to take your time with this one.  As my dad would say, "you've got to drink that one with a fork and knife!"  But like "Leviathan," the finish is mellow and satisfying... an excellent example of how an Imperial Stout should taste!

For an afternoon/evening of heaviness (on several fronts), go buy this beer and this album!!  Check out Narwhal Imperial Stout at and visit my buddy Kevin at the Heavy Metal Shop to pick up a copy of Mastodon's epic album "Leviathan":!

Happy rocking and drinking my friends!!  Cheers!!

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