Category Archives: Mastodon

The Hunter-MASTODON-2011


…Aaaand they fuck it all up. See the thing is, in today’s world of metal, unless you are good or you are out. Finis. There is no place for “yeah the vocal lines are bad and cheesy, but they have got this cool guitar solo going on.” Cut to the second song from the album “Curl of the Burl”. The vocal line of “ooOOO OOooo OOO oye OOO” is something that Ozzy used to do in early 90′s and it doesnt help that the vocalist has retained the heliumishness of Ozzy. Wat the fuck is this bullshit they are trying to pull? All the vocals are weak and the lines are just wrong (I dont mean the lyrics, you nOOb). They mish mash with the rhythm section and just distract and fracture my brain not calm it and help it come together.

So we have gone from Riff based Metal to Proggish Metal to weak Modern era Hard Rock with a few metal-ish chord sequences and pretty power ballads (ala the title track) complete with fucking latter era Rainbow-Blackmore solos (even though they are the best part of the album)??? So the production and the little tweaks help pass the time of the day, but I DON’T want to pass the time of day with mediocre crap. I want to listen to the absolute best, and The Hunter is third rate modern butt metal. Take the song “Creature Lives”. It is like some f’ing pop generic pop song, where the vocal parts follow the terrible nursery rhymish guitars. It is like a kid taking “sa re ga ma pa” lessons. The majority of the chord sequences go in typical generic 3 Doors Down fashion from A to B to C back to A back to B and so on and so forth without displaying any real melodic progression or ideas.

Breathe. Slowly.  OK, so things are not all bad, but don’t ever talk about “Curl of the Burl” or any other vocal parts of this album. There are songs which are good, even though spoilt in large because of the rest of the album. For example “Thickening” has pretty good guitar parts that remind you more of “Oblivion” from Crack the Skye rather than whatever the heck they are doing elsewhere. “Spectrelight” reminds you of the Leviathan era, and it just might be the only true metal song with the proper grandeur befitting the genre, that I can actually recommend.

Except in some places the whole proceedings suck. It doesnt help matters that the album is so damn long that……wtf…I have better things to do, this doesnt sound right. Some good parts but the suck on others overwhelms all that. This is not an album I am going to be putting on anytime soon.

-Baba T


Crack The Skye-MASTODON-2009


Come to think of it, Leviathan almost seems a weak, primitive album compared to its successors, and after listening to Crack the Skye I suddenly realize that there is not much of a chance that I am gonna be putting on Leviathan anytime soon. I won’t say that Crack the Skye is an improvement over Blood Mountain. Rather than a dramatic change in quality, there has been a shift in the musical direction. From crunchy 5 minute melodic Southern Rock/Sludge stompers with light interludes to boot, we have gone to dense, multi-layered progressive metal epics. The production of this record is quite impressive. There are just so many layers to the whole thing that it is some time before you notice everything that is going on. Mastodon on Crack the Skye sound truly the 21st century successors of Black Sabbath, and not only because the vocals throughout the album bear much more than a passing resemblance to Ozzy Osbourne’s famous “helium, sing along with the lead guitar vocals.” If Sabbath were to do Sabotage today it would end up sounding like Crack the Skye, but just maybe not as good. They also demonstrate that as long as your riffs are fresh and cracking, and the focus is on songwriting rather than trying to fit into a particular genre, then there is no need to abandon the traditional verse-chorus structure (All the nerdy prog metal bands take note, and Pain of Salvation, Opeth and Between the Buried and Me, I am looking at you.) a stark example being the fantastic opener, Oblivion, which packs a punch in the 6 minutes range. Yes, they do the old soft-hard alternation technique as well, but it does not sound contrived at all. The patterns are quite easy to follow on this one.

So with this release, Mastodon, out do themselves and reduce albums like Remission and Leviathan into dust and grime and render the same irrelevant. Stellar, stellar. This is exactly what I demand from my metal. Epics with funky parts and serious keyboardy moments galore. Yay!!

Recommended Songs – Oblivion, The Czar, The Last Baron.

-Baba T

 


Blood Mountain-MASTODON-2006


If anybody says that they liked Mastodon the first time around then they are lying. If anybody says that they sat through all of their albums in one sitting and had no problem doing so, no itching to put on something a bit more low brow, then again, their noses should lengthen out a bit like Pinocchio’s. However, any one who makes an effort and still doesn’t get it after some time is simply no metal head.

Mastodon is one of the better metal ensembles I have heard that hail from this century. In fact, slowly, but surely, the more Blood Mountain sinks into me, the more I am tempted to think that this might be one of the best metal album of the decade, yes, it is THAT good. I have been listening to the album for 2 months now and am still not familiar with all the riff and tempo changes. Call it my inattentiveness or attribute it to the mastery of this band, but that’s what it is, and seldom does any album take that long to assimilate in my ear.

Their biggest achievement is the fact that they have genuinely built up a unique sound, and this is not AMG “unique” that I am talking about here (on AMG, every band is unique). They sound huge, grand without trying to, without the synths, mellotrons and female choir ala Therion etc. They are complex without trying to be, without the constant use of polyrhythms and mind bending time signatures ala Meshuggah, Textures etc.

If Leviathan is taken as the starting point for this band, then Blood Mountain is the next big step. That monster was all about rhythms, this one is all about the rhythm and the melodic lead breaks. The Southern rock influences return in full force on tracks like Crystal Skull which has an awesome Lynyrd-Skynyrd-y solo at the end, only sped up and hard rockitized. That track is so awesome, its beyond belief, what with the harmonies that they bring in through the rhythm and lead guitar. The vocals have changed too. I can actually understand the lyrics and the emphasis is on pitch and key rather than on being harsh and guttural. Better than Leviathan? Definitely.

My only beef with them would be that sometimes it seems that they deliberately want to put the listener off, for example take Bladecatcher, which has a solid intro, but then goes haywire with some weird sound effects, only for a brief moment, but it is off putting, the kind of stuff that makes the normal person say “that’s why I don’t listen to metal.”

To make a long story, short, most of the album consists of similar awesomeness, and to point that out I use, kids, say it……

Recommended Songs -: Crystal Skull, Sleeping Giant, Hunters of the Sky

-Baba T


Leviathan-MASTODON-2004


There are no glosses. No melodic breaks. No piano. No orchestra. No female sirens. No flashy solos. No gimmicks. You either get the rhythm section right or get out. For the most part, Mastodon succeed, but this kind of approach to heavy rock album making results in tired ears, a headache and a longing for such hits as “Knowing Me, Knowing You” and “How Deep is Your Love”.  I can roughly state that the lyrical matter and concepts deal with some weird kind of Moby Dick fantasy about the deep waters, huge whales and sinking ships.  In the beginning all the songs will seem interchangeable, but some stand out due to the rampaging, heavy as shit riffs and fantastic lead guitar breaks. Recommended. Also has some Southern Rock-esque riffs clouding the airwaves in a couple of places.

Recommended Songs: – Hearts Alive, Megalodon

-Baba T


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