Jan-Simon : "Call me Ishmael", or should that be Captain Red Beard?
To the real Mastodon fan it can hardly be a surprise that Brent Hinds of Mastodon has been working on a side project called Legend of the Seagullmen. The first rumours - and leaked demos - came more than two years ago. The real surprise is that the eponymous debut album shows that Legend of the Seagullmen is not just a hobby band. Or is it? It can easily be described as a big joke that has become dead serious: a band made up of a number of well-known (and lesser known) musicians hiding behind rather far fetched nicknames, a nautical theme going much further than Mastodon did a long time ago with 'Leviathan' and a live debut as opening act for Primus. And still, saying this is just a hobby would not do Legend of the Seagullmen and their music justice. This album is the living proof that the music on it, created by Hinds, Tool drummer Danny Carey, film director Jimmy Hayward, Pete Griffin (Zappa plays Zappa) and others, can be enjoyed without the inevitable Mastodon comparisons.
According to the band, their sludgy prog-metal should be seen as a nautical spaghetti western and to be honest, that is not a strange comparison. Personally I thought of a weird mash-up of Moby Dick and Spongebob Squarepants with a metal soundtrack. The music certainly has a cinematic character, with the bizarre sci-fi concept and the songs about orcas, giant squids, divers and shipwrecks. The sound effects, bells, squeaking seagulls and cracking wood helps a lot of course. One can almost see the ghost ships rise from the fog.
Musically Legend of the Seagullmen is closer to Mastodon than Tool, with the remark that this is clearly much lighter and the progressive metal is not that deep (pun intended) as it is in Mastodon's finest moments. Yet Carey's role should not be underestimated. In each song his monster drum rolls and fills play an important role, or even take the lead. Together with Hinds recognizable guitar riffs and solos Legend of the Seagullmen is not just a super group because of its members. 'Legend of the Seagullmen' is a short album that rocks from the very start. Only the closing track 'Ballad of the Deep Sea Diver' is slightly disappointing with its over the top, bombastic but also synthetic orchestral arrangements. But even with this relative miss this is a very enjoyable album.
There is no better summary than the words of singer David 'The Doctor' Dreyer in the title track 'Legend of the Seagullmen': "That's right, this is entertainment". It sure is. Now let's see where I can get a crab burger.