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Mastodon: The Hunter

With the constraints of a concept not tying them down Mastodon are finally free to express themselves with ten tracks of power filled guitar fuelled greatness on their latest opus The Hunter.

'I killed a man because he killed my goat; I put my hands around his throat'…now, how many bands can get away with a lyric like that apart from the mighty Mastodon on the groove laden, foot stomping 'Curl Of The Burl'. The Hunter has the unashamedly frantic drumming of Brann Dailor throughout and is a sheer aural attack on many stratospheres. From the spacey 'Stargasm' to the ridiculously titled 'Octopus Has No Friends' Mastodon have let their creative juices ebb and flow and while capturing their trademark sound they have also branched into new uncharted territories. Keeping the tag team vocals of Troy Sanders & Brent Hinds once again gives the tracks different levels of depth and space and allowing the listener to truly immerse themselves in the Mastodon experience. Not as jazz influenced with the many time changes that plagued previous releases, The Hunter is certainly a cohesive collection of modern metal compositions which while being classic in their own right are way ahead of their time and always groundbreaking. With all the tracks below the six minute mark this makes it a truly plug in, turn on, press select album and while not compromising their prog metal roots they have delivered something more accessible to new fans. The Hunter shows Mastodon have the ability to write short catchy riff laden masterpieces to transport the listener to wherever the journey takes them. Without a doubt the words 'Album Of The Year' will soon be plastered on the cover, now strap in, turn on and immerse yourselves in the glory of The Hunter.


Track List:-
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
8.Dry Bone Valley
9.Thickening
10. Creature Lives

Added: September 25th 2011
Reviewer: Mark Davies
Score:
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2742
Language: english

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Mastodon: The Hunter
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-09-25 13:41:52
My Score:

The Hunter is the long-anticipated follow-up to 2009's Crack the Skye, one of Mastodon's finest achievements in their career. After exploring the limits of progressive songwriting with complex arrangements, excellent vocal melodies, and a perfect balance between heavy and melodic passages, the band decided to pursue a different musical style with their new release.

This album marks an important step in the band's evolution. It was mixed and produced by Mike Elizondo whose resume includes non-metal artists like Dr Dre, Eminem, and 50 Cent. Worry not, though, the mix is spectacular and the sound clarity amazing (though I prefer the more dynamic production on their earlier work by far). However, Elizondo has definitely pushed Mastodon into writing shorter and less complex songs with heavier emphasis on melodic chord progressions and hook-filled arrangements. There is not a single song that reaches six minutes; the writing is more immediate and to the point. Actually, many of the songs are around the three-minute mark, with "Blasteroid" being even shorter: a punk-infested drive, simple yet powerful guitar work, and melodic vocals balanced out by aggressive singing make up the composition.

The stylistic change in the band's sound and style cannot be entirely attributed to their new producer, however. They also have a new cover artist and they've changed their method of writing. While albums like Blood Mountain and Crack the Skye were painstakingly composed and took a long time to produce, The Hunter was recorded in only a few weeks. Also, the songs were largely written on the road while the band was on tour with Alice In Chains. The album sees Mastodon liberating themselves from conceptual boundaries. Rather than exploring more complex themes and writing everything under that theme, this time around, they've written songs that are independent of each other, songs that stand on their own.

The band's enigmatic lyrics and approach to constructing riffs and melodies is fully intact with a few exceptions. "Curl of the Burl" starts with the line "I killed a man cause he killed my goat," a song whose swaggering groove was possibly inspired by a Queens of the Stone Age track. There are more overt references to their inspirations: I hear lots of Neil Peart-like drum fills by Brann Dailor whose performance is uniformly stunning on this disc. His playing on "Octopus Has No Friends" is impossibly tasty, and his tone is amazing. The song deploys an epic build-up with powerful vocals and deep-in-the-pocket rhythms. The way the cascades of guitars work to the anthemic chorus is nothing short of brilliant.

The band also pays tribute to Pink Floyd in more than one track. "Stargasm" (with lyrics about sex in space!) is informed by Floydian synth swells eventually dissolving under thunderous drum attacks and liquidy instrumental passages while "Creature Lives" is unlike anything they have done before. It mixes tons of sampled voices, lots of keyboard effects, odd tonalities, and deep bass notes to achieve a unique sound with syrupy vocal lines, but honestly, it's not what I expect of Mastodon. I love experimental music, but I consider this one among their least interesting.

There are also similarities to their previous work. The band continues to pen personal lyrics as they did on Crack the Skye. The title track is about the unexpected death of guitarist Brent Hinds' brother while hunting (actually the working title of this album was Brother, but the band decided to go with The Hunter eventually). With acoustic guitars from the shadows, keys mistily creeping through the song, and plaintive vocals, the song morphs into a Lep Zeppelin-inspired blues guitar solo that consumes you. And the lyrics will scar your soul.

Similarly, the final track, "The Sparrow," commemorates the loss of a friend of the band's. It is extremely personal, as the lyrics "Pursue happiness with diligence" are her words. This is arguably the finest closing track on any Mastodon album due to its emotional breadth. The vocals are apathetic, sung as if he'd rather not be there, but the instrumentation is suffused with sheer emotion. This makes the song weightier and more real. The guitar solo is haunting; it wails and wails over worldess vocal melodies, and the song finishes in a strange yet beautiful way.

As with the previous three Mastodon discs, Scott Kelly from Neurosis once again guests on the album on the fast-paced, rhythmically dense "Spectrelight." Kelly's distinct raspy voice drives the piece towards its apex amidst a storm of riffs and pummelling drum slam. The band's fans of earlier material should also enjoy the doomsday riffing of the opening track with its scorching vocals, relentless low end, and intricate rhythm force.

The Hunter is likely to be Mastodon's breakthrough album, gaining them more fans than before. It is a very strong addition to their discography. Fans of their earlier, sludge-infested material with aggressive vocal parts, pulverizing riffs, and complex songwriting may or may not embrace it depending on their tastes. Personally, I consider Blood Mountain their high-water mark due to the fact that it seamlessly blends the raw aggression of Leviathan with the progressive mindset of Crack the Skye, but I enjoy all of their albums, including this one. I just enjoy them for different reasons.



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