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It wont be the album I thought it was going to be, but it’s going to be the album it’s meant to be. That’s psychedelic isn’t it?

That's part of an open letter posted on Megaton Leviathan's blogspot in December of 2012. When the announcement went live, vocalist/guitarist/synthist Andrew James Costa was the last remaining member of the trio responsible for 2010's Water Wealth Hell on Earth. That album -- an outsider-y mix of Nadja's delayed haze, Om's fuzz, a swath of psych celestial-ness, and older/wiser Neurosis' cinematic crawl -- seemed to herald big things on the horizon. But unlike the pace of Megaton Leviathan's music, their future that December appeared to vanish in a snap. At that point, their story was just another career closed out via HTML, ending with the always-ominous post-script "more tba."

Nearly two years later, the "more" is actually here. Due to Costa and friends' efforts, Megaton Leviathan have survived. After four years, Past 21 Beyond the Arctic Cell is, as promised, the album it's meant to be.

And, yes, it's psychedelic. Like elder experimentalists, Megaton Leviathan are driven to create, explore, and meddle with moods. "Past 21" is a fine example, opening with a cracked doom progression a la Old Man Gloom and spending the next four minutes shading in a map of a craggy, hellish landscape. The drone-verture could soundtrack a sci-fi moon landing, one unveiling an icy Io-esque tomb while providing the proper you-gonna-die foreshadowing. It's also a kind of painful purgatory: if you took the wrong drugs, you might think it's going to be a long night. Then Megaton Leviathan flip the script. At 4:06, "Past 21" breaks free of its downer stasis thanks to a deep guitar crunch supported by pumping organs. Now you're swaddled in warmth. The song is still blue but it's on the rise and moving, buoyed by an epiphany of acceptance. Whatever trepidation you had before is blasted away with deliciously sad strings, solos that float like ash from a fire, and vocals that have that unobtrusive-yet-totally-affecting lilt of Kenny Hickey. Things have clicked. Welcome to nine minutes of melancholy bliss. The instruments ring out. You finally exhale. What a trip.

In the end, "Past 21" is a nice way for the Megaton Leviathan story to circle back around. An ounce of Andrew James Costa's patience will get you through four tough minutes standing in for his four years of uncertainty. Then, there's a release. And what's on the other side is meant to be.

"Past 21" opens Past 21 Beyond the Arctic Cell. The album will be released September 9 by Seventh Rule Recordings and it's available for preorder now.

— Ian Chainey

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