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MASTODON

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • United States


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Mastodon biography
Founded in Atlanta, USA in 1999

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 experimenta...
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MASTODON discography


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

3.49 | 187 ratings
Remission
2002
3.90 | 352 ratings
Leviathan
2004
3.73 | 347 ratings
Blood Mountain
2006
4.11 | 630 ratings
Crack The Skye
2009
3.70 | 403 ratings
The Hunter
2011
3.68 | 192 ratings
Once More 'Round The Sun
2014
3.67 | 101 ratings
Emperor Of Sand
2017

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

3.58 | 41 ratings
Live at the Aragon
2011

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

4.09 | 11 ratings
The Workhorse Chronicles: The Early Years, 2000 - 2005
2011

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

3.30 | 32 ratings
Call Of The Mastodon
2006

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

3.05 | 19 ratings
Lifesblood
2001
3.15 | 15 ratings
Divinations
2009
3.90 | 12 ratings
Oblivion EP
2009
3.19 | 26 ratings
Jonah Hex: Revenge Gets Ugly EP
2010
2.47 | 13 ratings
Curl of the Burl
2011
4.20 | 10 ratings
Black Tongue
2011
3.01 | 30 ratings
Cold Dark Place
2017

MASTODON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Emperor Of Sand by MASTODON album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.67 | 101 ratings

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Emperor Of Sand
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by ssmarcus

4 stars In the years following Mastodon's all-time prog metal masterpiece, 2009's 'Crack the Skye', Mastodon's output focused on perfecting their propensity for heavy hitting and catchy sludgy riff metal. While the two albums from that period were acclaimed by the heavy metal community generally, they had let their prog fans out in the cold. 2018's 'Emperor of Sand' was the band's attempt to rectify this. A concept album, the lyrics and music of 'Emperor' were inspired by a string of cancer related deaths amongst band members' family and friends. Similar to 'Crack the Skye,' 'Emperor' tells a daring and fantastical story that doubles as an exploration of the band members' deep-seated fears and emotions during that period of their lives. Musically, the album comes out swinging with slamming riffs while eventually segueing into songs with more experimental sounding licks and emotionally heavier choruses. For the prog metal world, 'Emporer of Sand' is a truly welcomed return to form for Mastodon.
 Leviathan by MASTODON album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.90 | 352 ratings

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Leviathan
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Atlanta's MASTODON made quite the thundering debut with 2002's "Remission," an album that sounded like a herd of ancient pachyderms rampaging across the Siberian tundra en masse with such force that the very ground below them quaked and split the continents in two. The album introduced a new kind of progressive sludge to the metal universe and excelled at creating murky dark soundscapes that added touches of suffocating atmospheric gloom and doom. The story of MASTODON has been pretty much that it incrementally at a snail's pace slinked into more accessible stylistic approaches that would de-emphasize the chaotic paranoia and settle into more streamlined even melodic approaches. This trend began all the way back on the group's second full-length release LEVIATHAN.

It's more accurate to state that the band made some tradeoffs. While jettisoning the fear porn of the debut, the band instead adopted characteristics of the progressive world and on LEVIATHAN the band's very first concept album was born which was loosely based on Herman Melville's 1851 novel Moby-Dick. While taming the wild antics of the debut album, LEVIATHAN by no means slowed things down and continued a rampaging parade of ten sonic attacks of sonic ferocity well intact. Decorated with more progressive compositional workouts and tight consistent instrumental interplay, LEVIATHAN was the album that saw the band taking both the progressive and metal world's by storm and catapulted the band into the big boys' club. Laced with the raging angst of hardcore crust punk and the ambitiousness of tech metal wankery, MASTODON hit the scene like a derailed train colliding with an anvil factory.

With the first hard-hitting riffs of "Blood And Thunder," MASTODON sets the tone for LEVIATHAN that never lets up until the bitter end. Laced with venomous guitar distortion and interchange of Brent Hinds' and Bill Kelliher's dual double axe attack, MASTODON takes the timbre-based sinew of sludge metal and coerces it into performing technical gymnastics that subtly sneak in and steer the aggressive assaults into more advanced creatures. The tracks seamlessly blend together with an idiosyncratic series of riffing made all the more outrageous by Brann Dailor's approach of alternating the lazy slug drumming experience in the Eyehategod school of drumming along with more tech infused jazzy outbursts. Brett Hinds also delivers his madman vocal approach from under the cacophonous din of the relentless tempo drives save the short instrumental contrasts as heard on the intro and subsections of "Seabeast."

Another interesting factor and what ties the band's first four albums together is that each one symbolizes one of the four elements of tetralogy. While "Remission" was not a concept album, it was still considered to have the theme of the element of fire. LEVIATHAN therefore not surprisingly represents the water element however the turbulent paths forged throughout this relentless metal madness is more like the Drake's passage between South America and Antarctica which is known to have the most devastating channels and highest waves on the entire planet. Of interest as well is the stunning artwork on the album cover created by Paul Romano which is a revamped version of Martin Heemskerck's 16th century interpretation of the "Pharos of Alexandria" as well as the wave representing Hokusai's "The Great Wave Off Kanagawa." It's also notable that the vinyl edition has a different track listing with "I Am Ahab" and "Island" appearing toward the end of the album, presumably so that the tracks could be spaced out more cozily.

Of the ten tracks on board, "Heart's Alive" exercises the band's complete progressive workouts and at 13 and a half minutes runs the gamut of tender arpeggiated sequences to galloping metal fury and a healthy dose of Viking metal mythos as well as NWOBHM sensibilities. While Brent Hinds is the clear lead vocalist of the band, on LEVIATHAN, Neil Fallon picks up the task on the opening "Blood And Thunder" and Scott Kelly likewise on "Aqua Dementia," but you know what? They all growl alike so it's unlikely you could tell the difference anyways. "Aqua" also has a cello cameo and the final instrumental features organ by Joseph Merrick who strangely has the track named after him. Some kind of endorsement scheme here? My mind is so suspicious. Back to "Hearts Alive." Despite it being the longest track it doesn't seem to make the most of the progressive opportunities and actually becomes a big stagnant, however LEVIATHAN is an outrageously fun romp through the world of stampede style sludge metal with a few progressive candles channeling the spirits of technical wizardry. A great album that continues the band's unique style.

 Call Of The Mastodon by MASTODON album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2006
3.30 | 32 ratings

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Call Of The Mastodon
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by NickCrimsonII

3 stars Call of the Mastodon' is a compilation album of early recordings (although the band members have referred to it, in interviews and a documentary, as their first studio album) of the Atlanta-based sludge/prog/heavy metal act Mastodon. The album contains re-recorded/alternative versions of the songs from their first two EPs (namely 'Lifesblood' and 'Slickleg'). Here the band can be heard in their earliest incarnation, as a sludge metal act, taking this term to the extreme on almost all of the songs. Raw, aggressive, powerful, haunting: It is an interesting piece in the discography of the band, that is pretty much in the same fashion as their album 'Remission'. It is highly recommended for fans of extreme metal and such of the band who have never stumbled upon the aforementioned EPs.
 Emperor Of Sand by MASTODON album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.67 | 101 ratings

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Emperor Of Sand
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Mastodon returned to their roots with this release!

And in the attempt of achieving their most classical sound, they worked with the legendary producer Brendan O'Brien. So the sound of the album is pure Mastodon. Sharp, complex, with piercing guitars and a bit hoarser vocals than in albums like Once More Round the Sun and Crack the Skye. Not a single complaint about the production, then.

But the problem with this album is that the songwriting is again subpar after the excellent Once More Round the Sound. A pair of really good songs are mixed with forgettable ones which bring nothing new to the band's career. And that's my concern with Emperor of Sand. It is a good Mastodon album, but also their most predictable and generic release.

Best Tracks: Sultan's Curse (a song which retrieves the power of Leviathan), Ancient Kingdom (dramatic and epic) and Jaguar God (their most progressive song since Crack the Skye)

Conclusion: Emperor of Sand is a minor disappointment after the superior Once More Round the Sun. And despite being than other albums like Blood Mountain and The Hunter, it does not reach the four star rating mainly because the lack of new ideas and some forgettable songs.

My rating: ***

 Once More 'Round The Sun by MASTODON album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.68 | 192 ratings

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

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Sometimes, becoming generic is not bad at all!

Because Once More 'Round the Sun is a pretty generic Mastodon album. It mixes the fierceness and merciless riffs from Leviathan with the more progressive and melodic compositions from Crack the Skye, forgetting the weird and failed experimentations of the strange Blood Mountain and the too commercial and felicitous The Hunter.

The result is a very stimulating album which maybe does not hit the high levels of the two aforementioned albums (Leviathan and Crack the Skye) but reaches a very worthy third place in the podium of this band's career. Its progressive-sludge metal in its purest form, where Mastodon are the one and only specialists.

Best Tracks: the first five tracks of the album are just amazing! After that the album becomes a bit more irregular with some lackluster tracks like Feast Your Eyes and the not so impressive Ember City and Halloween. Diamond in the Witch house is an authentic return to the sludge metal roots of Mastodon, nevertheless!

Conclusion: Once More 'Round the Sun supposed a very welcomed return from Mastodon to the right path after the disappointing and cheesy The Hunter. The classical ferocious riffs of the band are back, the vocals are better than ever and the mixture between sludge metal and prog is just great this time.

So I consider Once More 'Round the Sun an excellent album from Mastodon. Maybe it was not as groundbreaking as Leviathan and not so perfectly composed like Crack the Skye, but a great addition to every prog metal collection anyway.

My rating: ****

 The Hunter by MASTODON album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.70 | 403 ratings

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The Hunter
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Sadly, The Hunter was the confirmation that Mastodon are an irregular band!

After the just good Remission they released the excellent Leviathan, and after the disappointing Blood Mountain they achieved to create a true masterpiece with Crack the Skye. And what's with The Hunter? Just another letdown.

The album is not bad, but it was their most commercial yet and although that's not necessarily bad, the simpler songwriting and the short length of the songs was kind of weird after the progressive masterpiece than Crack the Skye was, and that became their music much more conventional, predictable and boring.

And that's my main problem with The Hunter. It was the first Mastodon album that bored me despite its intention to be more varied with its mellower tracks like The Hunter or The Sparrow (very boring ones) and the happy feelings of songs like Blasteroid and Stargasm.

Best Tracks: Black Tongue (a return to the fierce moments of Leviathan), Dry Bone Valley (simple, but good), The Creature Lives (rather strange, but different and catchy)

Conclusion: The Hunter was a strange change of direction for Mastodon. They abandoned the power of their first two albums and the experimentations and prog of their third and fourth records to release a much more conventional disc, much happier and radio friendly. But sadly, they became boring and predictable in the process. And that's a pity for a band so groundbreaking like Mastodon.

Nevertheless, the album is not entirely bad, and it has a pair of brilliant moments. But coming from a band which released wonderful albums like Leviathan and Crack the Sky, that's not enough.

My rating: ***

 Crack The Skye by MASTODON album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.11 | 630 ratings

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Crack The Skye
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

5 stars After their good debut album Remission, the excellent Leviathan and the bit disappointing Blood Mountain, Mastodon finally achieved true greatness with Crack the Skye!!!

This album is the perfect mix of all that this band made before adding an extra prog layer to their music, containing this album true epic progressive masterpieces like The Czar and The Last Baron, mixed with incredibly good shorter tracks with the typical Mastodon eerie sound and insanely good instrumental work but also more accessible.

It's hard to explain because this album really has everything that this band has to offer condensed in a single record but more progressive than ever, making it a true masterpiece of modern prog-metal.

Best Tracks: there is no fillers here, but I specially love the longer ones.

Conclusion: Crack the Skye is an amazing album from start to finish. The band achieved a perfect mixture between technique and accessibility, power and progression, brutality and melody, making this album a clear peak in their career.

Sadly, although Mastodon maintained always a good level of quality in their music, they have been not able to regain the magic of Crack the Skye in another album yet.

My rating: *****

 Remission by MASTODON album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.49 | 187 ratings

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Remission
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Debut full length of the Atlanta's kings of trash-death-technical-prog-metal!!!

This album contains the typical hoarse vocals of Troy Sanders and his saturated bass playing, great and technical guitar playing by Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher, and the well-known amazing drumming by Brann Dailor and tons of heavy and progressive tracks.

Sadly, the songwriting is not so compelling like in the similar but much better Leviathan or the proggier Crack the Skye, making this record a bit dull in the long term despite some tracks where the band tries to make something differing like the sludge-prog Trilobite and the much more melodic and very interesting Elephant Man.

Best Tracks: March of the Fire Ants (typical Mastodon power), Where Strides the Behemoth (great riffs and a classic in live concerts), Trilobite (one of the most progressive tracks of the album with excellent guitars on it) and Elephant Man (melancholic and meditative guitar work, which shows the band's versatility which would make them great in the future)

Conclusion: this first album of Mastodon is much in the vein of the later Leviathan, but with a songwriting which is not so refined yet and some repetitive ideas which makes the hearing of the album a bit boring in the long term.

So, although Remission is a good tech-metal album with some killer tracks and passages on it, if you are new to Mastodon, I would recommend you to start with one of their later albums!

My rating: ***

 Cold Dark Place by MASTODON album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2017
3.01 | 30 ratings

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Cold Dark Place
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

3 stars It is said that this EP originally was conceived as a Brent Hinds solo album. Die-hard MASTODON fans might be disappointed or maybe even upset. No reason to be biased though, as this is my first encounter with the band, for what I can remember. And, if well crafted, I do like such stuff in general. Anyway, heavy prog songs are given here, the focus is more on melody and atmosphere instead of shredding, brachial, thrashy metal riffs. Well, this move is not really surprisingly new, other bands like Opeth or Pain Of Salvation are brothers in arms here. Who really is keen on being repetitive in style again and again? And so the opening song North Side Star delivers a somewhat southern rock style, amongst other things due to the use of a pedal steel guitar.

The title track even unfolds a slight psychedelic orientation, multiple acoustic and electric guitar input plus extraordinary solo right towards the end. Super! If there is a minus ever, unfortunately the cover picture is too much darkened when it comes to me. Yes, this matches to the global design according to the album title. But you are not really able to explore the painting's expensive details, too bad. Though the main conclusion is that 'Cold Dark Place' offers four enjoyable songs in a highly melodic heavy rocking manner, coming closer to bands like Magnum, Tiles, Zip Tang instead of genuine prog metal. 3.5 stars.

 Cold Dark Place by MASTODON album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2017
3.01 | 30 ratings

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Cold Dark Place
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

2 stars Following 2017's full release album "Emperor Of The Sand," Atlanta based sludge metal outfit MASTODON gave hardcore fans another slice of their unreleased material on this four track EP titled COLD DARK PLACE which came out in September digitally and on CD but also as a limited edition ten-inch vinyl edition that came out at the end of October 2017.

COLD DARK PLACE is basically the leftover tracks from the band's last two album session. "North Side Star," "Blue Walsh" and the title track all date back to 2014 from the "Once More 'Round The Sun" sessions and "Toe To Toes" comes from the latest "Emperor Of Sand" sessions.

There is nothing on this EP that you wouldn't expect. Nothing here is experimental or out of the parameters of the band's established style that was displayed on the retrospective albums that these were initially recorded for. MASTODON has been toning down the heaviness in their music ever since the 2011 album "The Hunter" and COLD DARK PLACE shows the band continuing their journey into less metal territory with more emphasis on progressive rock.

While most tracks are on the borderline of progressive rock and metal, "Toe To Toes" is exceptionally mellow for MASTODON's overall sound. There are more clean vocals displayed on this EP than on any proper album. Overall i'm not too keen on MASTODON's direction that they've been going.

While metal bands mellowing out and going prog rock isn't anything new or something i'm against in any way, MASTODON seems to be getting stale with super predictable tunes that cruise on auto pilot. This EP is okay with nothing being offensive but i find it quite boring compared to the greatness they unleashed a decade ago.

2.5 but rounded DOWN!!!

Thanks to TheProgtologist for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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