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MASTODON

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • United States


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Mastodon biography
MASTODON was formed in 1999 when Brann Dailor (drums) and Bill Kelliher (guitars),former members of TODAY IS THE DAY and LETHARGY emmigrated to Atlanta from their native Rochester,New York and met Brent Hinds (guitars,vocals) and Troy Sanders (bass,vocals).In 2000 they recorded a demo that is referred to as the "9 song demo",which actually featured the bands first lead singer Eric Saner on vocals.This recording was remastered and released by Relapse Records with the title "Call of the Mastodon" in 2006.After a short time Saner left the band due to personal reasons and MASTODON signed with Relapse in 2001.

The bands first official release was the well received "Lifesblood" EP in 2001,but since then the band has moved away from the music of this release stylistically.In 2002 MASTODON released their first official full-length album "Remission".

2004 heralded the release of Leviathan,a concept album loosely based on Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick.This is the album that steers MASTODON'S music away from the sludge/post-hardcore sound and sees the band experimenting and becoming more progressive.It is impressively well constructed,with each song flowing into the next,giving it a very natural feel.With slower,chunkier riffs,odd-time rhythms,cleaner vocals and a better production,it also contains a bona-fide epic with the 13 minute track "Hearts Alive".This album is literally driven by Dailor's hyperactive,fill-happy jazz/progressive style melded seamlessly with Sanders bass work,Kelliher's and Hinds' intricate and complex riffs and Sander's and Hind's alternating clean and growling vocals to tell the tale.

In 2005 two forthcoming releases were announced,the aforementioned "Call of the Mastodon",and the "The Workhorse Chronicles",a DVD containing interviews and concert footage,including material from the band's early days as a five-piece.Both were released in 2006.This effectively ended MASTODON'S deal with Relapse Records.

In 2006 MASTODON released their third full-length album "Blood Mountain",which was originally planned as one long piece of music,but which later became a collection of individual songs rather than another full blown concept album.The album contains guest appearances from NEUROSIS vocalist Scott Kelly,QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE'S Josh Homme and Cedric Bixler-Zavala of THE MARS VOLTA.

MASTODON'S greatest strength is their ability to explore the progressive and experimental side of the metal coin while keeping t...
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Once More 'Round The SunOnce More 'Round The Sun
Warner Bros. 2014
Audio CD$3.83
$5.73 (used)
Crack the SkyeCrack the Skye
Reprise Records 2009
Audio CD$2.44
$2.93 (used)
LeviathanLeviathan
Relapse 2005
Audio CD$8.14
$5.34 (used)
Blood MountainBlood Mountain
Reprise / Wea 2006
Audio CD$3.58
$0.70 (used)
The HunterThe Hunter
Reprise 2011
Audio CD$5.44
$3.99 (used)
Remission Deluxe ReissueRemission Deluxe Reissue
Relapse 2014
Audio CD$7.63
$8.66 (used)
The Hunter (Red Colored Vinyl)The Hunter (Red Colored Vinyl)
Reprise 2015
Vinyl$13.99
Call Of The MastodonCall Of The Mastodon
Remastered
Relapse 2006
Audio CD$7.21
$3.07 (used)
White Walker (Explicit)(12White Walker (Explicit)(12" Vinyl Picture Disc)
Reprise 2016
Vinyl$11.99
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Live At The Aragon (CD+DVD)Live At The Aragon (CD+DVD)
Reprise 2011
Audio CD$7.30
$3.98 (used)
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MASTODON discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

MASTODON top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.52 | 145 ratings
Remission
2002
3.86 | 288 ratings
Leviathan
2004
3.71 | 301 ratings
Blood Mountain
2006
4.09 | 540 ratings
Crack the Skye
2009
3.74 | 358 ratings
The Hunter
2011
3.63 | 146 ratings
Once More 'Round the Sun
2014

MASTODON Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.73 | 32 ratings
Live at the Aragon
2011

MASTODON Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.33 | 9 ratings
The Workhorse Chronicles: The Early Years, 2000 - 2005
2011

MASTODON Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.36 | 25 ratings
Call Of The Mastodon
2006

MASTODON Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.03 | 17 ratings
Lifesblood
2001
3.20 | 11 ratings
Divinations
2009
3.80 | 11 ratings
Oblivion EP
2009
3.04 | 21 ratings
Jonah Hex: Revenge Gets Ugly EP
2010
2.48 | 10 ratings
Curl of the Burl
2011
3.67 | 9 ratings
Black Tongue
2011

MASTODON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Crack the Skye by MASTODON album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.09 | 540 ratings

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Crack the Skye
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Ghost_of_Prog

4 stars I've always considered Mastodon to be one of the better heavy metal bands of the 21st century. They seem to be focused on creating a heavy, yet melodic atmosphere, as opposed to many others who seek only to be brutal or hardcore. They started off rusty with Remission and refined themselves with Leviathan and Blood Mountain. From a progressive rock standpoint, Crack the Skye is their most refined album. Featuring two epics as well as an entire album drenched in psychedelic and eastern tinged melodies, it's a treat to both fans of the band and any potential newcomers.

In addition to the prog influence, the band has some fantastic drumming on their part thanks to one Mr. Brann Dailor, a jazz influenced drummer who cites Yes, Genesis, and King Crimson as influences. I bring him up because not only is he a great drummer, but he is also a great singer, as his sections of the album's opener Oblivion show. As for the song itself, it is pure Mastodon; extremely heavy, melodic, and catchy. The same can be said of its follow up Divinations. This formula is repeated with Quintessence, which alternates between it's heavy and psychedelic parts rather than merging the two together.

The album's first epic The Czar is reminiscent of the traditional prog epic; a larger than life plot (Rasputin and attempted assassinations on the Czar of Russia), diverse instrumentality, and sum's up the band or album's sound wonderfully. It starts off quiet and slowly builds and builds until it climaxes with heavy guitars before descending (or ascending) into a mystical psychedelic melody. Easily one of Mastodon's best.

Ghost of Karelia reminds me a bit of Iron Maiden's "Wasted Years" and continues the album's mixture of heavy, psychedelic metal. The title track is probably the weakest song on the album, that really fails to try anything new, but on it's own, it's still decent. The Last Baron, the album's second epic and closer, starts off loud and bombastic, and just keeps on soaring. The vocals alternate between respect and awe and intense fear of the song's subject, which balanced with the album's signature style creates a mesmerizing piece that perfectly finishes this album.

A great intro album for progressive fans who want a little bit of taste of both prog's more extreme side and metal fans who want to see metal get a little experimental.

Four stars easily.

 Once More 'Round the Sun by MASTODON album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.63 | 146 ratings

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Once More 'Round the Sun
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I was introduced to Mastodon by a youthful co-worker many years ago, who recommended their album Leviathan to me after hearing that I liked Dream Theater and Opeth. I wasn't impressed, and sort of hated it. I gave the band another chance with Blood Mountain. I didn't hate it, but wasn't impressed. The band's style of noisy, distorted, "sludge" metal failing to grab my attention despite the group's instrumental talent. With Once More 'Round the Sun, the third time seems to do the trick, because I think that this is actually a entertaining, well executed, and ass-kicking piece of heavy metal.

The band has shifted their sound to feel a bit more bite-sized, relying more on melody and hooks than walls of distorted noise. The song writing isn't very ambitious or complex, but the energy the group puts into the savage riffing, explosive drumming, and tone of the songs out weighs this short coming. Take for example the very catchy "The Motherload," which is a heavy, fuzz-filled crunch fest that features blistering and gymnastic riffing, a prodigiously busy rhythm section, and memorable vocals that grabs hold of, and sticks with you.

The consequence of this is that the band is leaning more mainstream, which may not appeal to fans of this web site. I feel like Mastodon is what a band like Isis would sound like if they opted to sell more albums to stoners in their early 20's instead of those seeking a full-blown art rock experience. I'm not passing judgement, just saying that the band has focused on hooks backed by their instrumental chops, so don't expect any epic compositions or experimentation.

While more listenable than other Mastodon albums, Once More 'Round the Sun will probably only appeal to fans of the heavy "tech metal" genre. A confident 3 star release.

Songwriting: 2 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 2 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

 Lifesblood by MASTODON album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2001
3.03 | 17 ratings

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Lifesblood
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars Progressive death sludge, anyone? Yeah? Then check out LIFESBLOOD, the very first release by MASTODON. This is the first official release preceding 'Remission' by a year but like that debut LP it's a massive molten heap of hot, sludgy brutality. This EP only contains five tracks that are just shy of the 16 minute mark, but this little beast does not disappoint, that is if you love your metal fast, brutal and raw. Think Behemoth meets Neurosis here, only with the progressive leanings of a much more sophisticated band like early Atheist. While the the vocals are brutal, growly and tortured, the music is equally brutal but sophisticated and unrelenting and most of all shows MASTODON with a unique progressive style of metal from the very first track.

Like many, i didn't hear this one until after all the full-length albums. I never hold out any hopes for these early releases but i have to admit that with MASTODON it's the early brutal beasts that rock my world the most. Brann Dailor is the star here showing us from the start that he is one of the fastest technical drummers in the universe. He claims his playing was developed from playing with the guitars instead of the bass as most metal bands tend to. Whatever the case, wow! I can hardly ignore the excellent guitar and bass work of the rest of the band. Every player is top notch and the passion pits are flowing here living up to the name of the giant extinct mammal after which they are named.

While this EP isn't essential, i would argue that the tracks on it are. They are also available these days on the 'Call Of The MASTODON' compilation albeit without the movie track samplings that begin the tracks on the original, which has become quite the rare collectible only having been produced limited numbers. If you love MASTODON at their most aggressive and unpolished then you will love this one. I swear this even blows 'Remission' away. Not even close to as polished as the later works but satisfying for its raw beastly brutality nonetheless. LIFESBLOOD is an excellent slice of progressive death sludge metal in my world.

 Oblivion EP by MASTODON album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2009
3.80 | 11 ratings

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Oblivion EP
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by thwok

4 stars It seems to me there are a couple of reasons for a band to release an EP. The first is to give curious listeners an introduction by offering something music. The other is to give existing fans of the band some extra material or songs to satisfy them between albums. I think the OBLIVION EP succeeds brilliantly at the first task. I really enjoy Mastodon, although I haven't listened to a lot of their music yet. This EP is a good introduction to the band's sound. I would pick the title track and the last one, "Colony of Birchmen", as my favorite songs here. Since they are listed as Mastodon "Top Tracks" on YouTube, these two seem to be among the band's most popular and well-known songs. They just strike me as more progressive than the middle two songs, although all four are very good.

One way to judge a band is to compare it to similar bands in the same category. Mastodon are often compared to Baroness. Although I can respect what Baroness does, Mastodon are stronger songwriters IMHO. I won't discuss the contributions of individual band members at length; I usually don't care to do so in my reviews. I will reiterate what others have said about the drummer, Brann Dailor. His handling of the band's often complex music is a major part of Mastodon's success. He is without a doubt one of the best drummers in progressive metal music (using a broad definition of that phrase). To wrap things up, I'm giving four stars to this excellent EP.

 Blood Mountain by MASTODON album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.71 | 301 ratings

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Blood Mountain
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Before you decide to listen to Mastadon's Blood Mountain you need to ask yourself a question: how much metal sludge, thrash, and slop do you like with your prog metal? If the answer is, "a lot," then you're in for a treat. Blood Mountain delivers. If you like your metal crisp, melodic, dynamic, emotive, or thought provoking, then take heed... Blood Mountain is a noisy and violent slap to the face that will not appeal to everyone.

Mastadon knows how to kick-ass. Every second of this album feels precisely arranged to do just that. However, the band has decided that their style should hide the precision playing, time signature changes, and intense instrumental breaks behind a wall of tuned-down fuzz and crunch that just makes the album sound sloppy. Each band member sounds busy for the sake of being busy, and after several listens I was left wondering what the standout moments were.

Some people love this sound, as you can see in the high ratings for this album, but to me the few moments of genuine creativity are lost in the noise, and it literally hurts my ears to try to find them.

In a way, I guess that's actually a pretty cool compliment to pay a heavy metal album, but if I'm going to subject myself to gruff violence - like someone kicking my chair for 50 minutes - then the pay-off better be high, and Blood Mountain simply isn't interesting enough.

A heavy metal fist held high for those that want to punish themselves with Blood Mountain's bombardment of shredding riffs and indecipherable lyrics, but I'll go back to listening to the other, more interesting metal groups out there.

Songwriting: 2 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: 2 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

 Once More 'Round the Sun by MASTODON album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.63 | 146 ratings

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Once More 'Round the Sun
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

2 stars I am examining some records from 2014 to get an idea of the music of modern times. Sometimes I grab music which dwells in a genre I am not used to, or especially found of. I though listen to it carefully and try to find glimpses of glory also there. Mastodon is an example of such a music. I had heard that band was progressive and inspired of many of my favourite bands. That made me curious and I wanted to hear their latest, the be exact their sixth record "Once More 'Round The Sun" from 2014. The cover is colourful and interesting even if I don't really like monsters on records.

The musicians to be credited for this record are Troy Sanders(vocals, bass), Brent Hinds(vocals, guitar), Brann Dailor(drums, vocals) and Bill Kelliher(guitars). I am not going to be so detailed now. Quite early I understood this music wasn't something for me. It just felt so nasal and American in vocal style and the instrumental parts was almost just heavy. Heaviness often exaggerates and this was the case here. I heard from time to another fine parts of instrumental music, for example in "The Motherload"(6/10) which is one of the most interesting songs on the record. "Tread Lightly"(6/10) and "Asleep in the deep"(6/10) are also quite good songs but over all I have very hard to understand or appreciate these kind of sounds.

I guess Mastodon has something great to offer for people who like agressive and hard music. For people more into sweaping melodies and nice voices, it's not perfect at all. My song to song rating ended at 2.5 stars which I in this case have to lower to two stars. Not extremely bad, but nothing for me.

 Crack the Skye by MASTODON album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.09 | 540 ratings

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Crack the Skye
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by YagKosha

5 stars "Crack the Skye" is a psychedelic progressive sludge metal masterpiece. A trip through time, space, and the mind. Mastodon had been climbing a mountain throughout their career; their first album "Remission," indicated the foot of that mountain, and the following two (Leviathan, and Blood Mountain) were the rest of the upward climb. Whether you think likewise about their two most recent releases (The Hunter, and Once More 'Round the Sun), there's no denying that "Crack the Skye" is the band's time spent at that mountain's peak.

Trippy guitar motifs and interestingly mystical Acappella choruses throughout, Crack the Skye remains one-of-a-kind in the realm of not just progressive rock/metal, but music in general. Here, the classic progressive sludge metal band dug deep to find a sound (hitherto this album's release) unheard of. From introducing banjo riffs to shredding 70s style guitar solos, songs like "Divinations" carry a peculiar power that embodies this album as a whole. With "Quintessence" onward, the band continues their journey- based record with excellently crafted progressive material. Before all these tracks, "Oblivion" opens the album with a concise indication of what is ensuing: trippy guitar works and lyrical themes on out-of-body experiences.

This psychedelic progressive sludge metal masterpiece may not be the album for everyone, but it is definitely an album that should be tried by everyone.

 Call Of The Mastodon by MASTODON album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2006
3.36 | 25 ratings

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Call Of The Mastodon
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by CassandraLeo

4 stars Mastodon probably needs no introduction to fans of modern metal music. Leviathan was one of the defining metal releases of the 2000s, and Crack the Skye proved they could play progressive rock as well as many of the genre's '70s stalwarts. Their blend of progressive metal and sludge earned them a justifiable reputation as one of the most formidable forces in the genre.

Call of the Mastodon, however, is not as widely known. It's a re-release of the band's original demo with a rearranged track order and new vocals by Troy Sanders and Brent Hinds (replacing the vocals of original vocalist Eric Saner, who only appeared on the band's first demo). Some of the songs here were also re-recorded for their early EP releases Lifesblood and Slick Leg. (The reordering of the tracks annoys me since I've been used to the demo's song order since 2004, and due to the fact that several songs segue seamlessly into one another, simply reordering my playlist here doesn't sound too great).

More annoyingly, the material has also been given a really bad remastering. The original demo was fairly loud, which is fine - it's sludge; it's supposed to be loud. Here, though, the mastering is so loud that the material clips throughout, with the result that Brann Dailor's virtuosic drumming sounds muffled and distorted.

I honestly kind of miss Saner's vocals here. I don't think Saner would have been a good fit for the band's later material, but his vocals on the original demo were a good match for the band's unearthly roar. Which vocals a listener prefers will probably be down to personal taste. Sanders and Hinds' vocals are fine, of course; if you've enjoyed the harsh vocals on later Mastodon material, you probably won't have much of a problem with the ones here either.

While the band demonstrates some of the progressive sensibilities that would later stretch some of their songs past the ten-minute mark, none of the songs here reaches much past four and a half minutes. The band is most interested in pummelling you with an endless succession of killer sludge riffs. These riffs often result in unusual song structures (nearly every song changes meter signature at least once, and most of them contain compound meters like 5/4 or 7/4), but compared to their later material (particularly from after they signed to a major label), it's heavy.

The band's later material is definitely more sophisticated, and a listener expecting an experience like that of Crack the Skye will be in for a huge shock. However, this is definitely recommended for fans of more adventurous sludge. I'd give the demo a four-and-a-half star rating, but since the reordering of the tracks and horrible remastering here annoyed me, I'll give this version of the release a solid four stars.

One final note: If you have the choice, I'd pick up the Japanese version of this compilation rather than the domestic release. It contains a bonus track (a ferocious performance of "Where Strides the Behemoth" from Remission) and add the film samples that were included in the Lifesblood versions of these tracks, which often provides some interesting flavour for the songs (especially "Battle at Sea").

Note: This is a revision of a review I wrote for Metal Archives of Mastodon's original demo. Some aspects have been changed due to the differences in the material.

 Once More 'Round the Sun by MASTODON album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.63 | 146 ratings

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Once More 'Round the Sun
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Once More 'Round the Sun" is the 6th full-length studio album by US metal act Mastodon. The album was released through Reprise Records in June 2014. "The Hunter (2011)" proved to be a big success for the band, and they´ve spend a lot of time touring in support of that album, which is part of the reason why there are 3 years between the two albums, but Mastodon have never been a band to release anything unless they are fully satisfied with the material they´ve composed, so they´ve also taken the time necessary to write the best possible material for "Once More 'Round the Sun".

"The Hunter (2011)" featured a less complex and more catchy and straight forward heavy metal sound, than the musical style on the earlier more raw, sludgy, and progressive releases by the band, and that stylistic change is continued and developed upon on "Once More 'Round the Sun". While the music on the album certainly is memorable with catchy choruses and powerful riffs, it´s not simple by any means and mainstream appeal is only present in smaller doses. Mastodon have not completely forgotten their sludgy past either and while the most hard edged tracks on "Once More 'Round the Sun" don´t compare in rawness to earlier material, some tracks are still pretty harsh.

And the variation of the material is one of the things that makes "Once More 'Round the Sun" such a great release. On the album you´ll find both heavy/stoner rockers, darker psychadelic tinged rock/metal tracks, and the above mentioend harsher sludgy tracks (and often all styles are combined). Another great feature is the attention to detail in the songwriting, which is something Mastodon excel in. While the music generally flows naturally and doesn´t sound constructed, these guys have obviously been through every second of music on this release to see if they could do anything different to make it sound better.

All material on the album are as a result well written and intriguing (even the most simple vers/chorus structured tracks are detailed and interesting). The music is well performed too. Great organic interplay between all involved, and the vocals, which on the band´s early releases were a bit more one-dimensional, are now more varied with both clean and raw vocal styles featured in the music. Mastodon have obviously worked a lot on their vocal melodies and how they perform them, because the vocal part of "Once More 'Round the Sun" is more catchy, powerful, and memorable than ever.

The organic sounding production is also a winner and helps bring out the best in the music, so all in all "Once More 'Round the Sun" is a high quality release by Mastodon. With the success of "The Hunter (2011)" I was wondering if Mastodon would strip down their sound and aim for an even more mainstream oriented sound on "Once More 'Round the Sun", but I don´t really think that´s the case. "Once More 'Round the Sun" is equally as adventurous as "The Hunter (2011)" and it´s nice to hear that the band haven´t completely abandoned their progressive ways in search of commercial success, even though the more simple sound on this one and on "The Hunter (2011)" are a far cry in sound and style (not in quality) compared to the more progressive predecessors. Mastodon seemingly insist on not settling or getting too comfortable and I find that greatly charming. A 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is deserved.

 Once More 'Round the Sun by MASTODON album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.63 | 146 ratings

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Once More 'Round the Sun
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Gallifrey

4 stars For the first few songs on Once More 'Round The Sun, I finally start to understand Mastodon. Over the last decade or so, the Georgian four-piece have basically become one of the metal bands that the masses collectively beat off to. All of their records up to 2011's The Hunter have been praised beyond belief for various reasons, from the intense energy and crushing groove of their early material to the progressive-sludge linings of 2009's Crack the Skye, Mastodon essentially had the metal world (or at least the critics) begging for more. And honestly, I never really got it. I mean, I dig Crack The Skye somewhat, being a big prog nut, but I could never really hear what people were gushing over, it was just a pretty good album that merged two metal genres pretty well. I guess if I focused on the instrumentation solely then it is pretty damn tight, and they certainly have a knack for a good groove, but I never really enjoyed it.

So come 2011 and Mastodon are tired of being Mastodon and (gasp!) decide to go mainstream and accessible. And honestly, I still didn't get it. To me, The Hunter is basically the Mastodon of before with shorter songs and less screaming. The cries of "radio-friendly hard rock!" went straight through me, because "Curl of the Burl" is actually pretty bloody heavy for modern radio. Some people I know went as far as to condemn them to hell - a good friend of mine even saying "that band is basically on the same level as Nickelback to me now". But even "accessible Mastodon" evaded me a bit.

But man, the first three songs on this new album have really clicked with me. They take the 'radio friendly' hooks of The Hunter, and make them better and more memorable, but they have amped up the intensity and intricacy of the instrumentals around them, which honestly heightens both aspects immensely. "Tread Lightly" is [%*!#]ing insane, with Brann Dailor's spastic drumming (one of the best parts of this record, and one of the best performances from this year, even if he does use the same snare fill a lot) and Troy Sanders' rumbling bass keeping the energy up for five straight minutes of intensity. It's here that the intricacy of Mastodon's instrumentals really start to come through, but they're amplified by the insanely catchy hooks. You can't tell seriously me that the vocal chorus of "The Motherload" isn't the catchiest [%*!#]in thing you've heard this year. It's so majestic and fun, but it doesn't compromise complexity for a memorable hook. Lead single "High Road" also has a hell of a chorus, soaring high above the sludgy and tight verses to lift the song up so high. You combine tight grooves, insane playing and proggy riffs with majestic and insanely catchy choruses that make everyone want to sing along and you've got a recipe for whatever the metal equivalent of a 'banger' is.

And then it just floats away. I honestly don't think the term "top-heavy" can be more true here, because the rest of the album just never matches the tight intensity of the opening three. I guess it's kind of hard to construct an album to follow such an explosive beginning, because if you keep going down the same path then the album gets repetitive, and if you change and pull out some songs with different moods, the energy dies and the listener gets bored. It's not all bad though, and the mid-album duo of "Chimes at Midnight" and "Asleep In The Deep" are probably at the same level as the openers, but for different reasons. These two are both more linear tracks, following pretty much the same mood for the whole track, and both are without an extremely definable hook. Of course, the pleb in me really just wants a bitchin chorus to come in and lift it up, and the latter of the two nearly does, but the songs are pretty solid in themselves. The former is a groove-fest, with the entire song being driven by a paced and insanely tight triplet pattern on the guitars. The latter is a slower song, really bringing out Mastodon's influence from stoner rock on this album, with a guitar pattern that reminds me a lot of modern occult-rock bands like Jess and the Ancient Ones.

But the rest of the album really just doesn't hold up, despite having moments. "Ember City" and "Halloween" both have relatively good hooks, but there isn't enough substance outside of the choruses to hold them up. Many of the latter tracks - notably "Aunt Lisa" and "Feast Your Eyes", have riffs that really don't lock into a solid groove and end up sounding like a slop of random notes, and then we have "Diamond In The Witch House", which is honestly just straight-up boring in its nearly 8-minute length, even though longer songs is something I normally lap up. The biggest problem with an album as top-heavy as this is that I want to turn it off as soon as I get to track seven. It's not bad in any way, but it just doesn't hold up its weight throughout. As for how it compared to the Mastodon discography, I can't really say, because as I said at the start, they have really not impressed me to this level in the past. I think that the combination of groove, melody, accessibility and complexity that they showcase in this album's opening quarter is really impressive, though, and even though this may be an 'accessible' album (I mean, I like it, so it must be), there's still a lot for the classic fans to love in here.

7.2

Originally written for my Facebook page/blog: www.facebook.com/neoprogisbestprog

Thanks to TheProgtologist for the artist addition.

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