The Mighty Beast Returns
It’s rare that a band’s name also perfectly encapsulates its sound. Conjuring up images of its hairy elephant namesake, Georgia’s masters of metal Mastodon have returned with their fifth full-length The Hunter. This time, the sound is less of an uncontrolled stampede, more of a calculated trampling, and yet another masterpiece.
Opener “Black Tongue” is a return to the riff-oriented sounds of Leviathan, wrapped in the compositional maturity of Crack The Skye. From the outset, it’s clear that this is the theme for The Hunter. Songs like “Blasteroid” feature the throttled vocal harmonies of Troy Sanders and Brent Hinds, while “Octopus Has No Friends” showcases Hinds’ signature chicken-pickin’ guitar. “All The Heavy Lifting” allows drummer Brann Dailor to release his mighty drum fills, but that’s not all he has in store. The Hunter also marks the first time that Dailor composes a song on his own, the haunting “The Creature Lives.” The sludge-thrash styling of “Spectrelight” contains the obligatory guest appearance from Scott Kelly of Neurosis and his commanding roar, before the oceanic textures of “The Sparrow” bring the album to a close.
Sonically, The Hunter is a new direction for Mastodon. It’s clearly a Mastodon album, but it sounds like a new band. The riffs are heavy, but they don’t bludgeon you. The vocals are harsh and powerful, yet melodic and nuanced. Mastodon has managed, yet again, to achieve the impossible: do whatever the hell they feel like, and still create something that sounds like home.
The Hunter is another inimitably Mastodon-sounding album, and in no way is that bad. The band’s refusal to be labeled, while maintaining a signature sound, gives them one of the most unique positions in heavy metal. Fans of the band should pick this up as soon as possible, and folks looking for a good entry point into Mastodon should check this out as well. Don’t think you like metal? You’ll love The Hunter.