Mastodon – The Hunter (Album Review)

Review by: Brian McCaul

Hard rock heroes Mastodon return with their fifth album, ‘The Hunter’. Named after Brent Hind’s brother who was killed in a hunting accident, it is not the morbid affair you would think. The band have described the album as Like a Really Super-Heavy Led Zeppelin and will make you want to “jump-on-your-bed, get naked, and go streaking”. Having resisted the urge so far to shed some clothing, I can confirm this is Mastodon’s most relaxed and loose recording yet.  Unlike all their previous albums there is no theme or concept, just 13 rocking tracks. Gone too are the long, multi-part 12 minute epics. Almost every track here clocks in at less than 5 minutes.

Gaining more and more fans with every album release, expectations are high. Especially after the success of the stunning ‘Crack The Skye’ album, the bands biggest selling record to date. Tickets There doesn’t think The Hunter is going to bring Mastodon on to mainstream radio the way Metallica’sMetallica’ (Black Album) did. There are no real ‘crossover’ hits like ‘Enter Sandman’ or ‘Nothing Else Matters’, but this is easily the bands most commercial work yet as shown on the first two singles and the opening tracks.

Black Tongue’ rolls in with riffs flying everywhere and crazy drum fills from Brann Dailor. A typically blistering twin guitar solo wraps it up abruptly. ‘Curl Of The burl’ is similarly short and catchy leaving diehard Mastodon fans to moan about the tracks being too poppy and the vocals being too clean. Since when did more melody mean lower quality? It’s a flying start to the album.

‘Blasteroid’ follows with pummeling riffs and the first screaming chorus of “I wanna drink some fucking blood. I wanna break some fucking glass”. As the album reaches its mid-section, things begin to get a bit trippier. “The Hunter” is slower and downbeat for a couple of minutes before another Hind’s squealing guitar solo lifts the track. “Creature Lives” comes in all Pink Floyd with its spacey keyboards and laughter and gentle bass line. The vocals here are clearer than ever before with a huge ‘aaaaah, aaaah, aaaaah’ chorus. Edit out the weird intro and this could make it onto mainstream radio, after midnight though.

“Spectrelight” and “Dry Bone Valley” bring back the fast and furious side of Mastodon… with more melody. Riffs and drums fly from your speakers and you will not be able to resist tuning on the air guitar for the kinetic guitar solos. Standout track and one of Mastodon’s greatest tunes “All The Heavy Lifting” is hard rock heaven. Powerful, catchy with another huge chorus, it rolls on like a steam train.“The Sparrow” brings things to a nice close. It’s dedicated to the wife of the band’s accountant, who recently passed away from stomach cancer; the song’s only lyrics “pursue happiness, with diligence” was her motto. Beginning slow and trippy the track builds, bringing in the riffs half way through. Another amazing guitar solo follows and the track gently winds down to a gentle finish.

So Mastodon has released an album that may divide fans. Those who cry it’s too commercial and the vocals are too clean’. And those who think it simply rocks. I know which side I’m on. Another couple of listens and I may give in to nudity.

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