Mastodon – Progressive Posturing

One of the most anticipated metal albums of the year is undoubtedly Mastodon’s upcoming sixth studio release Once More Around The Sun. It will follow three years after the largely hit-and-miss The Hunter, which saw the band returning to a heavier sound, but unfortunately felt too unfocused and lacked the cohesiveness that previous efforts had in abundance.

Mastodon formed in 2000 and debuted their first full-length effort, Remission, in 2002, showcasing a predominately sludge metal style. Two years later Leviathan was released, featuring a small evolution in their sound, most notable in the clarity of vocals and the more experimental musicianship. The heavy, sludge/stoner riffs were still prominent though and provided the foundation for their ambitious Moby Dick/water element concept record.

Although Mastodon chose to keep the four-element concept record theme on their next release, Blood Mountain (Remission was loosely based on fire; Blood Mountain on Earth), their sound had drastically evolved to become much more progressive, incorporating elements of everything from jazz to straight-up rock. This trend would continue on to 2009’s Crack The Skye, which at times reminded more of Pink Floyd than Melvins, before a middle-ground was reached on 2011’s The Hunter.

About a fortnight ago the Atlanta quartet unveiled Once More Around The Sun‘s lead single, entitled High Road. It starts with a Leviathan-like chugging riff, before Brann Dailor’s progressive drumming-flare explodes around it. The verse vocals are typical Mastodon; filled with agitated screeches and bellows, whilst the verse takes a very clean approach and sees the whole band contributing to the melodies. Half-way through the vocals cease for an extended instrumental bridge, akin to previous tracks like Hunters of The Sky or Quintessence. 

Overall the new single delivers everything a Mastodon fan wants: a churning riff, a multi-vocalist attack and enough progressive posturing to keep you on your toes. Once More Around The Sun is shaping up to be the another great record for one of the most innovative and influential metal bands of the 21st century.

Recommended Mastodon:

  • The Czar: I. Usurper II. Escape III. Martyr IV. Spiral from Crack The Skye
  • Naked Burn from Leviathan
  • Dry Bone Valley from The Hunter
  • Colony Of Birchmen from Blood Mountain
  • Seabeast from Leviathan

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