December 11, 2020

There are a number of bands operating under the name of Leviathan. The one in question here is a Colorado-based progessive metal band that found limited fame in the 1990s before reforming after an aptly titled Leviathan Resurrected live reunion show in 2010, and then continuing to the present day. The leader throughout the band’s career has been John Lutzow who plays guitars, keyboards, shares the vocals, and I believe writes most, if not all, of the material. There’s been a revolving door of support players, with only Derek Blake on bass having been along for most of the ride. The band hasn’t appeared on my radar screen previously and I confess I was underwhelmed when listening to a handful of tracks from their back catalogue but their new effort, Words Waging War, is full of good and interesting material.

Lutzow has stated that some of the tracks originate from their 1990s period, including the track WWW – which you’ll have guessed stands for Words Waging War and not World Wide Web. Lutzow himself explains the lyric as follows: ‘This forum for exchanging information and knowledge had the best intentions to enrich lives. Over the years it has turned into a platform for hate and hostility. This dichotomy lends itself perfectly to the double meaning of WWW.’ A neat play on acronyms indeed. Opener Compromised By Need gives the impression of being another song that Lutzow has dug out from the 1990s vault and dusted down for this album. It’s a decent prog metal track albeit clearly influenced by American prog metal material from that period (Queensrÿche, Fates Warning). Other tracks such as Strength And Limitations seem to share the ’90s progressive metal heritage.

There are a second group of tracks which instead have a more modern mainstream rock feel to them, bordering on stoner rock. It’s as if Lutzow thought to himself ‘let’s forget this progressive metal stuff and try to sound like Blue Öyster Cult instead’. Take Picture Perfect which exhibits all the hallmarks of classic Blue Öyster Cult: a great melody, a catchy guitar refrain, and a heavy but restrained delivery. It could have sat comfortably on albums like Agents Of Fortune or Spectres. The same goes for Blood And imagination and Ten To The Twelfth which are two other excellent tracks with Cult influences. The similarity is enhanced by the impressive vocalist Raphael Gazal who sometimes spits out the words in the same style as Eric Bloom.

As an introduction to the band, this album might give the impression that they are a bit schizophrenic musically as it swings between the older and newer material. What is clear though is that the more recent material (if I’ve identified it correctly) is fresh and interesting and makes this one well worth listening to.