Monday, April 13, 2009
Genre: Stoner Metal/Progressive Metal/Noise Core Metal
Label: Warner Bros.
Country of Origin: USA
Band Formation: 1999
Vocals/Guitar: Brent Hinds
Bass/Vocals: Troy Sanders
Drums: Brann Dailor
Guitar/Backing Vocals: Bill Kelliher
04. The Czar
1 - Usurper
2 - Escape
3 - Martyr
4 - Spiral
05. Ghost Of Karelia
06. Crack The Skye
07. The Last Baron
Review: I cannot, so, I shall not push my verdict for this album until the last line. Readers, this is a stunning album. It is money well spent. If you skip this, you shall be missing one of the world’s best upcoming band’s great albums. Read on.
Mastodon continues with their elemental theme that their previous releases carried. And, this time they reach for the skies – AIR. In this album, the band has gone a tad softer than their previous releases. But, that came with no surprise as most current bands are being infected with commercialism. Still, make no mistake; they have not over-simplified themselves to be queued for a radio playlist. The stereotypical experimental and quirkiness of the band still prevails. And, that is what makes them likeable.
It is very hard for an intelligent band to convey a lot via limited space. With merely 7 songs, this band manages to convey a lot without once waving away from the genre’s density. That is commendable. The lyrical work gives birth to numerous interpretations and the music is quite atmospheric. This is all an overload for a first listen. But, as you keep listening to it, you eventually get addicted.
The softening of the music deserves further defence here. It isn’t the “safe mode” a band approaches post its unsuccessful past attempts. Mastodon has gone soft for the right reasons here. They have experimented this time by conveying much more than their previous releases and slightly softened the music as a favour to their listeners.
The degree of density delivered by numerous layers of sophisticated musical elements with varying twists and turns aka several textures along with managing to stay light-years away from sounding repetitive makes this album nothing short of mind-boggling.
Their previous albums were all focused on myth-obsessed, psychedelic, haunted, doom based themes with brutally heavy music. Hence, for the fans that the band managed to collect during the time “could” get disappointed with this release. Nevertheless, I sincerely insist on giving this album a fresh listen to learn the diversity of this talented band that managed to come to the spotlight in a remarkably short period.
The Last Baron deserves a special mention here. This track begins with pricking guitar pickings and swirling chords on a mid-tempo. It also has a Banjo incorporated amidst all this heavy music. The vocals borderline pop-metal. Most people are drawn into metal when they listen to a classic such as Master of Puppets from Metallica. I mean this as I write that this song fits under the same category of special mention.
The Czar deserves a mention too. It distinctly carries a Frank Zappa influence on their guitar solos in this song that has a 70’s rock feel too.
Overall, this band shall undoubtedly get a wider metal audience because they don’t focus on growl vocals and blast beats alone. There is a lot of variation across their songs showing their diversity by maintaining the one constant factor of being heavy – classic rock to metal. Yes, there are numerous old-school elemental magnificence such as opening the songs with fast and heavy beats, swirling guitars etc. Precisely, this album is a collage of different forms of metal.
Scott Kelly from Neurosis returns back to lend his vocals for Mastodon. Melodic vocals alternated with Jurassic park like growls, twin-guitar explosions, ripping guitar solos, complicated riffs - the overall masterful arrangement of the album makes it a must buy.
Anyone who has followed this band since their début shall attest to my observation that this band has only grown to be better both lyrically and musically. This album shall undoubtedly help them in their cruise from underground metal to a more ambitious and lustrous career now.
This Metallica and Pantera amalgamated band and their recent colossal album definitely deserves a listen. Definitely!!!
Highlights of the album: Quintessence, Divinations, The Czar, The Last Baron
Copyright © Ajey Padival 2009 (Brisbane, Australia; +61-434360675; firstname.lastname@example.org)