Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mastodon's 'The Hunter' brings the Thunder; a review

I have been a long time fan of Mastodon. I remember finally buying Remission in 2003, the year of it's release,
after listening to the Lifesblood EP at a party. I was familiar with the cover, having seen it in the many metal magazines I frequently read at the time. Mastodon's intense mix of sludge and atmosphere amazed me. I sat for many hours in my bedroom at home playing the album over and over again, atempting to figure the songs out. With each release by the band, Leviathan in 2004, Blood Mountain in 2006 and Crack The Skye in 2009, they grew emensly as musicians and songwriters.How I long to someday find a group of musicians like this to jam with. They are clearly all where they want to be now. The band's three vocalists, bass player Troy Sanders, lead guitarist Brent Hinds and drummer Brann Dailor share the singing duties. In some parts all three singing at once. Their voices differ quite pleasntly. Troy's voice is always a little bigger and more harsh, Brent's voice is more piercing, and Brann's voice is mellower, almost droaning. But in a good way. To many Crack the Skye was too proggy and conceptual and if stacked up against Remission, it would sound like a different band. Or a different side of the same coin. Mastodon's music has the ability to take on a journey. The imagery they associate with the songs through their music videos, album covers and the backdrops and footage they have behind them as they preform. The kaleidoscopic soundscapes.

The Hunter is the band's most recent effort and the culmination of everything they've learned ofer the years. The group remains as heavy as their namesake as the first three tracks completly knock you out.

Sounds like this

'Black Tounge' is very remenecent of the band's 'Blood Mountain' Days and is full of slamming riffs.
'Curl of the Burl'is an immeadiate favorite. The song is super heavy, as it is played in one of the bands usual tunings where the 6th string on the guitar is tuned to a bowel shaking A. This is Mastodon's modern sound. The guitar melody after the band comes in mimicing the verse vocal melody. Brent's verse vocals find themselves comfortably in the heavyness. All three of the bands vocalist sing the chorus you'll be repaeating every other time the song arrives at it. They have a video for this track, enjoy:

'Blasteroid' takes me back to the'Remission'-'Leviathan' days. Harmonizing clean vocals share the soundscapes with the screaming of " I want to drink your
fucking blood'. The song also features one Mastodon trademark, to me anyway, the complicated open-string riffs.
'Stargasm'sounds true to the band's 'Crack the Skye' state of mine with the atmospheric intro laden with spacey effects. The upbeat grooving verse riif leads into even more spacey breaks, with the infectious "you're on fire" lyrics.
'Octopus has no Friends'could have easily been on 'Leviathan', both in sound, and that it has 'Octopus' in the title. The octave-vocals over the complicated verse riff could also date it to then as well.
'All the Heavy Lifting'is another example of infectious heavyness that I associate with these gentlemen.
The title track 'The Hunter' is the first mellow break in the track listing.This is the kind of song that would have been mostly instrumental on 'Remission', before the group's vocalists found their voices. Make way for Brent's blues-jam solo before the song re-intros and the solo just takes over the song.
'Dry Bone Valley'takes me back to ' Blood Mountain' initially and the vocals take it away. The lead vocals on this are done by Brann, the drummer, who you'll remember sang the first part of the verse on 'Crack the Skye's' 'Oblivion'. A short wah-drenched solo seems like it should have been longer, but, you got to do what's good for the song.
'Thickening' is another mellow jam that starts off with a huge delay enhanced guitar solo, before going into some slightly dirty open-stringed, strummy guitar riffs. The songs picks up with haunting, harmonized vocals and goes into more solos! There are solo breaks galore in this song. These guys get it.
'Creature Lives' stands out from the rest of the album, or Mastodon's entire catalog, as it is completely
composed by the groups percussionist Brann. The sweeping harmonies and creepy laughing the track starts with give way to a simple, clean guitar riff that a hint of the vocal melody to come. The songs strikes me as a nursery rhyme, that is not an insult by any means. I honestly plan on learning this and playing it to my children. The choir-esque build up to the chorus are whimsical and fit perfectly in this simple, catchy song.
'Spectrelight' takes you back the heavy atmoshpere Mastodon calls their home. The track also features the albums only guest musician, Neurosis vocalist/guitarist Scott Kelly. The guitar tone in the begining of
'Bedazzled Figernails' and a wonderful halfway point between clean and distorted guitar. The lower register verse vocals are beautifully contrasted by the soaring harmonized vocals that follow. There's also, what sounds like, a therimin in the vocal breaks that make the song
sound at home in the Twighlight Zone.
The album closes with 'The Sparrow', a song that starts as a mellow relaxer that goesin to a nasty riff that will make anyone do a 'guitar face' and air guitar along. The pleasant vocal melodies make this tune a great way to come down from an album that takees you to every part of this galaxy.

My rating system will be how much awesome the album puts into The Thunderbucket
As you can see, Mastodon's 'The Hunter' fills The Thunderbucket to the top.

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