For Fans Of
Expectation, intrigue and anticipation are often values held and heightened by those outside of the bands themselves. It’s almost a heavy burden the bigger the band you are. See, while its fans, observers and musical critics that determine this benchmark, it’s the band job to inevitably meet it. And this is just as unreasonable as it is backward in design. However, there are some groups that just jump these musical hurdles with such ease it’s not even funny.
Mastodon are one outfit, like only some select others that can take these unfair demands for a musical masterpiece and release an album that just forces the listener to stop and appreciate brilliance. We can make grand and perhaps even over the top claims (and to be honest we probably will) but all praise headed towards ‘The Hunter‘ seems well-deserved. Plain and simple. This is not an easy, ‘let’s jump on the already obvious bandwagon’ recommendation but rather a means of articulating and commending a studio album that is well-rounded, emotive and musically precise. No, its not this decade’s or even this year’s masterpiece but it is just an unwavering record that’s not far off the former.
First things first, studio album number five from these Atlanta noise merchants is more stripped back and true to the band’s previous assertions equally less-proggy. While ‘Crack the Skye‘ played from the Pink Floyd, King Crimson stylebook, with its roller-coaster range of moods and contrasting song tempos, ‘The Hunter‘ is one designed to crank loud. To quote Spinal Tap, "If you need that extra push over the cliff, put it to 11." ‘Spectrelight‘ is the living embodiment of this in a three-minute nutshell. Again, featuring guest vocals from Neurosis‘ Scott Kelly, the tail-end track is just an absolute beast.
Conversely, ‘Curl of the Burl‘ makes you want to crack open a beer, work on your beard growing skills and day-dream about rock ‘n’ roll’s heyday. "I killed a man because he killed my goat," says it all really in its own simple, unadulterated way. Similarly, ‘Blasteroid‘ is all-over the shop in the nicest way possible, with certain periods even bringing to mind a likening to Converge. Equally, ‘Black Tongue‘ keeps that familiar Mastodon sound in tact. ‘All Heavy Lifting‘ is again memorable while ‘Stargasm‘ might be one of the best songs titles of 2011.
‘The Hunter‘ is a big ‘fuck you’ to those who say you can’t be successful without compromising your sound. This is Mastodon‘s most accessible album yet also its most relatable, sophisticated and pure release as well.
If this was the Melbourne Cup, it would seem that Protest the Hero‘s ‘Scurrilous‘ and Mastodon‘s ‘The Hunter‘ have broken away from the pack and are neck-and-neck for crowning honours.
It was written when analysing CD/DVD ‘Live at the Aragon‘, but as much as Australian festival appearances have been much appreciated can we get a sole headline tour soon…please!
It would’ve been easy, not to mention convenient to give Mastodon a perfect score purely because it’s Mastodon. ‘The Hunter’ is different to its predecessor but just drives the band’s appeal further. In the same way that we look back at Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath fondly for their contributions to their respective era, you get the feeling Mastodon might be talked about the same way in a few decades time.
1. Black Tongue
2. Curl of the Burl
5. Octopus Has No Friends
6. All the Heavy Lifting
7. The Hunter
8. Dry Bone Valley
10. Creature Lives
12. Bedazzled Fingernails
13. The Sparrow