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?
Next up: featuring one of Mastodon’s finest artworks to date – the Sad Demon Oath – fifth studio album The Hunter!
(2011) Reprise Records
It’s been said countless times that Mastodon are a band that seek artistic satisfaction over creating a product that’ll simply pacify their fans. As admirable as that is, sometimes fans aren’t able to get on board straight away. For Mastodon, this was never more the case than with the release of The Hunter – despite it remaining one of the bands best selling outputs to date.
With a move away from a thematic concept, the quartet instead took their energy and pooled it into 13 tracks of solidly written, yet stylistically varied music with a variety of lyrical content rather, than focussing on fitting each track into one massive story.
“The Curl Of The Burl“
With an album so stylistically varied, it’s decidedly different to pull together a handful of songs that best represent the differences on show, but “The Curl Of The Burl” really shows off the band’s intent for future releases; its fuzz-loaded psychedelic rock is trippy yet anthemic, and despite being bookended by two of the heavier tracks on the album, it’s without a doubt now a jewel in the Mastodon back catalogue.
Despite The Hunter having no overarching concept, it is packed with references to the world around the band. The album title and the title track are dedicated to Brent Hinds’ brother, who died whilst out hunting. The title track itself is as emotionally heavy as you’d expect given the subject material; a beautifully melancholic ballad that oozes love and loss from every single note.
From the crazy and frenetic “Bedazzled Fingernails” to the Blue Oyster Cült inspired “Thickening“, The Hunter is an album that simply refuses to sit still. It plays more like a mega mix rather than a coherent masterwork, and despite flaws, it isn’t the death of the soul some Mastodon fans declared it – simply another method of experimentation from a band on the move.
It’s rare that you can see the point a band leaps forth from the underground into the monster you knew they were destined to become. The Hunter is the album that allowed the band to make that jump and for that reason alone it deserves praise.