Bands come in flocks: one band comes out with a supposedly unique style, and then 10 other bands come out sounding just the same. Mastodon has beaten that stigma through their entire career, and The Hunter is no exception. While you read this, I challenge you to name a band that holds it down the way Mastodon does. Don’t lose any sleep over it, I will tell you the answer at the end.
Mastodon has shown quite an evolutionary process through their career. From the raw punishing power of Remision and Leviathan, to the slightly cleaned up, yet still skull breaking power of Blood Mountain, and finally the displays of artistic and musical prowess of the more ethereal, yet still high voltage push of Crack the Skye, Mastodon shows their talent, their edge and more importantly, that their edge (and one of a kind sonic attack) is still sharp. Mastodon’s latest release came as one of the most highly talked about albums of the year. How highly anticipated? If these were biblical times, it would be akin to everyone waiting to hear what Jesus is going to say next. The buzz around the album, along with releases on youtube.com, gave listeners a quick glimpse of what to expect. In many cases, a band puts forth their best effort in these mini-releases, putting out the material that will suck people in the most. With The Hunter, the entire album is fit for the job. The Hunter does not deceive. And it does not disappoint.
First play of this album will leave you a bloody mess. From the first five seconds of the opening track, “Black Tongue”, it is quite apparent what is happening: expectations from eager listeners are shattering, and Mastodon is plowing forward with the most welcome assault anyone has ever felt. “All the Heavy Lifting” shows flourishes of a classic rock guitar groove, but make no mistake, this is no Bob Seger album. The classic rock-like flourish is met with the same intricate artwork Mastodon has been hailed for. This album is pure power and adrenaline from beginning to end. What makes this album, and Mastodon, light years ahead of every other musician out there is the pure technical talent from each member. Each song requires an attentive mind to discern each instrument’s track, and if the listener can single one out, it might come off as confusing. The integration of these sounds is how Mastodon’s sound hits the listener with so much force.
While this album would be damned amazing as just an instrumental album, you have to have a dose of Brent Hinds and Troy Sanders lyrics mixed in. The lyrics, as always, are visceral and the duo’s slow drawl of the words bring an ultimate heaviness that no tribal tattooed, spike-haired band of freaks could touch. From beginning to end, this album will bring a smile to your face. A bloody smile, but a smile nonetheless.
In a time when bands cannot live up to their previous releases, and the general population has begun to accept that as the norm, Mastodon takes what the listener knows about music and tosses out the window. The Hunter continues Mastodon’s trend of convincing their listeners to come back for another round of abuse and does so with an evolution that the rest of the industry should be jealous of. If there was ever a band whose name should be its own genre, it would be this one. Pick this album up now, ad don’t ever put it down.
Oh yeah, no one holds it down like Mastodon. No one.
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