Good to see a band willing to be diverse,
This review is from: The Hunter (Audio CD)
I was looking forward to this album even though I had not been much of a fan of the ban until I head Crack The Skye earlier in 2011. Since then I have also managed to track down Blood Mountain. So it was with a sense of trepidation that I heard about the release of "The Hunter". I knew I would buy it, but I did not know what I would think of it. Then the pre-release songs were released and while good, were nothing of the level of Crack The Skye. I had no problem with that as often individual tracks will be like that. It is the whole album that I look forward to. So on the first listen I sat there knowing I would not form a whole judgement on the album but rather get an idea on what I would like and what I wouldn't.
This album sees Mastodon get spacier. And when they do, I love it. My favourite tracks are the spaciest. What you get is a band who are happy to write metal with space, with a ton of effects at times, and, most oddly, are not afraid of the G,B,E strings of there guitar. And yes, I mean the high E! Mix this in with the unique production that Mastodon have and yeah, it is a very unique mix and definitely left me wanting more of this style of music. Also, the use of multiple vocal parts is something I highly commend
The Hunter and The Sparrow are easily my two favourite tracks on this album. Both are just superb to my spacey ears. Hell, give me a whole album like this and I'd wear my CD player out. (Arcam, I still get a warranty if this happens? Right? RIGHT? Bueller?!) Stargasm is also worthy of a mention, and Creature Lives as well. Thickening is pretty good, as well, though one which was slow to catch on with me. Black Tongue is not bad as an upbeat more aggressive opener.
The in between...
Well, this is where most of the songs fall, in that 5 to 7 out of 10 area. This is not because they are bad, but possibly just because the quality of the good songs, above, is so damned high. These songs, while having their own unique personality, just don't have as much personality as those above. Curl of the Burl, for instance, is an okay song, but, it just doesn't have the sheer uniqueness and feel of the songs above.
I am happy to say there really is nothing that is hatefully bad. There are songs I skip, but that is just my impatience to get to the good songs.
The production again is uniquely Mastodon. Think heavy in an almost fuzzy way. There are a lot more clean vocals than not, which I consider a good thing. There are more keyboards, which I do not have a problem with (look at my Music that I own page for proof).
The spacier sounding songs are fantastic though, a really good mix of all the instruments. I must say I love being able to hear a bass clearly and without competing with the drums.
This is a strong album. Not as strong to my mind as "Crack the Skye", which to me was a stunning album. It may be partially due to the lack of a concept here, or the feeling that a few of the songs could have had more development, but there is that slight level of difference, to me, that makes this album worthy of repeated listens, but not likely to be as long lasting as an album. The shorter songs on this album work in some places, but may have stunted some tracks of that little bit of development that could have taken it to that next level. Having said all that, these songs *may* work better live for those very same reasons. Oh, and for all the fans who mention commercial because of the clean vocals is my take. They would be more commercial, selling to a known fan base, than to chop and change as they do and continue to potentially alienate their fan base with each new album. This is something I actually commend them for as it is never without risk. While AC/DC can get away with making little changes over many years, I am glad that there are bands willing to be a little different all the time. Now my mini rant is out of the way, I will finish by saying this is a good album, but probably not a 2011 top 10. Which isn't really fair as there have been so many good albums this year, in any other year it may have made it.