Oct
26

Mastodon – The Hunter – Review

By Admin  //  Music Reviews  //  No Comments

Over the last few years, the albums of the Atlanta, GA four-piece, Mastodon (“Remission,” “Leviathan,” “Blood Mountain,” and “Crack The Skye”) have left listeners hard-pressed to find a more progressive and adventurously experimental alt metal band. Forgoing shallow subjects and simplistic riffs, Mastodon opts for a much more expansive and technical musical construction, aligning themselves with a thick conceptual mythos and assuring  fans that with each and every record they write, they are sure to have ample progressive sludge metal thrust upon them. And though much has changed since 2009′s “Crack The Skye,” the groups latest full-length entitled “The Hunter” (named so for Brett Hind’s late brother) has continued the bands prolific album streak.

The first noticeable difference with “The Hunter” is that it isn’t much of a concept or “element-based” album the way previous Mastodon outings have been, (“Remission” stood for fire, “Crack The Skye” for air, etc.) leaving it to act as the bands first stand-alone effort. And without the hazy, thick, mythos this time around, such as “Leviathan“‘s quadriplegic astral projection subject matter, the band has been able to take its progressive metal to more accessible ears. The result is a set of opening tracks, “Black Tongue” and “Curl Of The Burl,” both of which continue previous records penchant for audible vocals, (leaving rough shouts in the past) while defining a more melodic and catchy set of riffs, while still showing ample signs of technical proficiency. The bands seasoned drummer, Brann Dailor, even gets to provide vocals on more that a few tracks, such as providing creepy laughs and the sole anthem voice on the effects-warped, spacey song, “Creature Lives.

Producer Mike Elizondo (50 Cent, Avenged Sevenfold and Maroon 5) could have had something to do with the bands detour from their previous prog-heavy influences as we can see by his resume, which also includes mainstream albums by Fiona Apple and Alanis Morissette, but the likelier reason is the bands increased riff-oriented focus and a more collaborative writing effort, which has lead “The Hunter” to sound “like a really super-heavy Led Zeppelin or something” (as Brann puts it. we agree) and a more “hodge-podgey” selection of songs – noticeable when we switched from the weighty riffs, pummeling bass pedals, and melodic singing of “All The Heavy Lifting,” to the lighter hard rock-ish tendencies of “Blasteroid” which sound reminiscent of Breaking Benjamin, and finally to the beautifully echoed fretwork, clashing hi-hats, and culminating apex of the Tool-esque album closer, “The Sparrow.

So while “The Hunter” isn’t the convoluted experimentation fest that is Mastodon‘s previous bodies of work, the record is still impressively technical and heavy, while still maintaining a  progressively creative direction and indulging a deep down need for catchy riffs and clean vocals. Mastodon has always been more accessible than peers like Kylesa, Baroness, and Isis, and with their new full-length, their appeal has most certainly grown — even though it’s at the expense of an involved story and uncompromising experimentation. [Staff]

Score: 4 (out of 5)

Release Date: September 26th, 2011
Record Label: Reprise Records
Genre: Progressive Metal
RIYL: Kylesa, Baroness, Isis

Track Listing:
1. Black Tongue
2. Curl Of The Burl
3. Blasteroid
4. Stargasm
5. Octopus Has No Friends
6. All The Heavy Lifting
7. The Hunter 5:17
8. Dry Bone Valley
9. Thickening
10. Creature Lives
11. Spectrelight
12. Bedazzled Fingernails
13. The Sparrow

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