32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Further development of a trail blazing utterly unique band.,
This review is from: Once More 'Round The Sun (Audio CD)
To get this off my chest immediately, 'Once More 'Round the Sun' is a culmination of all that Mastodon have nailed in the past. It contains elements from all their previous albums, with their progressive metal sound providing the backbone as ever. I'd say it's a combination of the pure metal from 'Blood Mountain' combined with the genre defying Mastodon progressive-ness of 2009's 'Crack the Skye' and the feel of 2011's 'The Hunter'. And like 'The Hunter' this new album doesn't have a central concept running through it, so each song feels individual, yet knitted perfectly into the overall scope of the album, it is such scope that 'Once More 'Round the Sun' matures with each listen, it's so layered with different sounds that it takes a couple of listents through at least, to fully start to appreciate what they've achieved here, this is not 'paint by numbers' music.
It's heavy, with technically interesting blasts of riffage, soaring choruses, smashing breakdowns and all laced together with their immense musical talent as a band, you can tell they love doing it and you can tell they will continue to develop whatever "genre" Mastodon come under... for now I'll leave it as the genre of 'Mastodon' perhaps.
You've got everything you'd want and more from the Mastodon of today here; epic opening passages and vocal choruses exhibited in opener 'Tread Lightly' and also 'The Motherload', unrelenting pace in 'Chimes at Midnight' and the amazing ability to seamlessly switch up the sound and tempo mid song. On a quick note, I'd also go as far to say that 'Tread Lightly' has one of the most enjoyable pre-solo passages I've ever heard from Mastodon.
Additionally, songs like 'The Motherload' just shout to the guitar writing/playing skill and knowledge of Brent Hinds, combined with the solid playing of Bill Kelliher. It's an explosion of unrelenting sound.
The "lead" vocals of Troy Sanders are better than ever, his roar is as powerful as ever; most notable in 'High Road' and 'Ember City'. Drummer Brann Dailor also provides a nice alternative vocal high end to cut through the doom of Sanders, with stand out performances with harmonies in 'High Road' and lead in 'Asleep in the Deep', another gloriously and darkly melodic prog-metal concoction. Brent Hinds as ever provides yet another edge to the triumvirate of vocals which again make this band so unique, his sharp voice is exhibited in 'Halloween', which is also a guitar masterclass in riff and lead from him; he provides a classic Schenker-esque opening riff and morphs it into something dirtily special with his unique note selection born out of an early education in the banjo, this skill is also in the banjo-esque intro of 'Aunt Lisa'. 'Halloween' also features a heavy breakdown riff reminiscent of 'Crack the Skye's 'Last Baron' and doesn't let up for a second.
And to put it simply; Brann Dailor continues to prove why he is arguably the best rock drummer in the world today, with pure energy and progressive fills he leads you through each song, providing fantastic colour to every single song.
In my opinion Mastodon's whole body of work will be looked at in 20 years time from now to illustrate a band leading the way and pushing forward the boundaries of progressive metal. They've done something I thought any modern "metal" band would never be able to achieve: they've developed a sound; unique, fresh, interesting, loose and yet technically fantastic and rich, that doesn't show any signs of tapering off.
Mastodon's album artwork has also been another facet to the band that's always impressed me. From the moody illustrations of Paul Romano to the modern contemporary restrained design of 'The Hunter', with it's wooden beast sculptured by AJ Fosik and now to this utterly insane a acid fuelled painted piece by artist Skinner.
'The Hunter' was in my opinion a solid stop gap in their career, a tune up if you will, as they were coming off the heights of 'Crack the Skye' and that is a hard, hard sound to top, or even come close to, especially given the fact that it was a pure concept album, with a narrative flowing throughout. For this reason I think this album has the potential to divide fans into those that loved 'Sky' and weren't impressed by 'Hunter' and people who love the early thrashing style of 'Mountain' and appreciate the new sound of 'Hunter'. I thought 'Crack the Skye' was simply a masterpiece and doubtless their pinnacle so far, I thought 'The Hunter' was solid and interesting and I think ''Once More 'Round the Sun' is a vast, vast improvement on that. Would I put it above 'Skye'? Absolutely not, but I wouldn't go looking for every opportunity to compare the two either.
Either way I look at it, Mastodon have put out a fantastic album, and I'm excited to see where they go next. It may be the right time for one more concept.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 29 Jun 2014 08:23:01 BDT
N. Ahmed says:
Excellent and well informed review!
Posted on 1 Jul 2014 19:22:20 BDT
C. D. Mc Nulty says:
Great review! So good that I've not bothered to read any other comments!
The Hunter is critically acclaimed as their best work, but I agree with you that Crack The Skye is their best album, and I've seen both performed live.
I think you understand, so I'm able to trust what you've written. I too hope they've got at least one more great concept album to come!
All the best!!
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