Mastodon is an american metal band that started out as a sludge metal outfit in the early 2000s and has since then slowly but steadily progressed into a more progressive style of music, which reached its climax in their 2011 album entitled The Hunter.
Now, three years later, Mastodon return with Once More Around the Sun and the singles leading up to the release of the album have been very promising to say the least and now that the album has been free for streaming for a few days, my expections have been confirmed and surpassed.
On their latest effort, Mastodon took the progressive base they established throughout their previous records and build upon it, to form a heavier sound than the one we heard on The Hunter. Overall Brent Hinds didn’t lie when he called the music on the album “really eerie” and “spooky sounding”. Mastodon do not fail to create a dense, at times even ethereal, atmosphere, which is achieved through vocal reverbs and walls of wailing, layered guitars.
The production on this album is also pretty much perfect. The bass supports the guitar/drum-duality focussed playstyle of the band perfectly and every element gets the attention it deserves in the mix. Instrumentally, the band didn’t change their style too much and just built on what they had and polished it, but you can feel that the bandmembers put a lot of effort into working on their vocal performances, which are at their most characteristic now. Troy probably changed his vocals the most, going for a more gritty vocal style now, which sounds like it has a lot more pressure behind it.
I really only have a few complaints about this album. For example, even though Mastodon go for some really heavy riffs at some points, the production doesn’t properly support those and thus, they lack some punch. There are also some parts that turned out quite awkward, like the transition back into the intro riff on the song Chimes at Midnight. The song starts and ends the same way, but the transition back into the intro riff is really kind of awkward and feels rushed. Another thing is the horrible choir part at the end of Aunt Lisa, which just completely kills the song for me. It sounds like a badly pitch shifted group of kids. Those are the only bad things about this otherwise pretty much flawless progressive metal album. Mastodon made a brilliant effort with this album.