In honour of the release of their seventh LP Emperor of Sand this Friday, we’re celebrating all things Mastodon this week. One of the finest 21st century metal bands, the Georgian quartet’s career has been markedly consistent; not without flaws, but nevertheless focussed and of exceptional quality
Where better to start than with a primer for each of their previous six studio albums?
Finally: Mastodon’s current most recent output:
Once More ‘Round The Sun
(2014) Reprise Records
Mastodon are band like no other, with no two albums the same. Their tactic of re-imagination; the ability to develop a fresh sound without alienating their fan base is truly remarkable. Switching out their prog sensibilities for a more straight up approach, most recent album Once More ‘Round The Sun is possibly the band’s most accessible to date.
With Mastodon stepping away from concept albums with previous album The Hunter, they once again Once More ‘Round The Sun has a focus on carefully constructed hooks and unrelenting attention to groove, and feels like an ever more refined and cohesive product than what came before.
It takes a certain level of testicular fortitude for a band to continue down a path that fans of the band’s original output would consider ‘not metal’ – as some felt with The Hunter – but to follow it up with an out -and-out pop banger is something else entirely. “The Motherload” is really a giant middle finger to everyone, but it also happens to be one of the most fun metal/not quite metal tracks of recent years. With total pop chorus’ mixed in with a double vocal attack and some rather sleek guitar work, you can’t help but admire it.
“Chimes At Midnight “
The style of “Chimes At Midnight” in particular is in stark contrast to the ilk of Blood Mountain, but is undoubtedly another high point of the band’s recent output; a furiously delivered maelstrom of riffs and Troy Sanders’ raspy vocals. Nevertheless, follow-up “Aunt Lisa” is Mastodon bringing back some Remission-era flavour with additional growls under intense psychedelic harmonies. It’s an entrancing adventure, and a clear indicator that the material on this album is constructed with the live arena in mind; the “Hey! Ho! Let’s fucking go!” added in by fellow Atlantians The Coathangers elevates the track into a live anthem.
After The Hunter the band went their separate ways for a while, and it had a spectacular effect on the band as a whole. Whilst Once More ‘Round The Sun felt more ‘present’ than The Hunter, it still lacked a complete cohesion, which isn’t surprising for a band as multifaceted as Mastodon. The record is, however, a perfect representation of the amount of depth the band are capable of creating with their compositions.