I can remember back in 2005, in the midst of my second Ozzfest, (remember those?) when I was first exposed to Mastodon. Like many others, my first listen to the track “Blood And Thunder” was all it took to get me hooked. I hadn’t necessarily listened to Metal that had slightly melodic and intelligible vocals at that point in my life, being that I was an angry 16 year old. I was intrigued by drummer Brann Dailor’s tribute to fallen guitarist Randy Rhoads, in the form of a polka dot covered drum set. I had yet to spend any time in my life on a drum kit, but was immersed in Dailor’s drum fill heavy style.
Mastodon has released 3 albums since 2004’s Leviathan, each being more progressive and “mainstream” than the last. 2011’s The Hunter was actually one of the last albums to ever be recorded at Sound City Studios. Those unfamiliar with Dave Grohl’s documentary chronicling the studio should take a second to see how many huge albums have been recorded there. I’ve always respected Mastodon’s creative prowess, and I always look forward to how the band can push it’s sound in a different direction. The band’s newest output, One More ‘Round The Sun, is extremely heavy but manages to also be the most mainstream material Mastodon have released.
A great go to track that encompasses the overall sound of the album has to be “High Road”. The extremely heavy guitar is a driving force in the song, and the duo of Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher unleash a new batch of riffs that range from chord heavy crunch to technically melodic harmonies. Bassist Troy Sanders continues to defy the stereotype of underwhelming bass guitar in metal music. The distorted low end dominates the mix throughout the album, and has always been a trademark part of Mastodon’s sound.
Vocal duties continue to be shared by all band members, each with their own distinguished style that compliments one another. A great example of the varying vocal styles is highlighted on uptempo tracks like “Chimes At Midnight” and “Aunt Lisa”, while “Feast Your Eyes” is dominated by haunting harmonies. The artwork that accompanies Once More ‘Round The Sun is best experienced on the vinyl format, my record shelf is a testament to that. Artwork was handled this time around by Oakland-based artist Skinner, who characterizes his work as “psychedelic nightmare paintings”.
Overall, I can truly appreciate how Mastodon has grown as a band in the last 9 years. Outside of being a longtime fan, I have definitely grown as a listener in that span of time, experiencing new genres and slowly moving away from the musical taste of my 16 year old self.
Mastodon play Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ on Saturday, November 1st w/ Gojira & Kvelertak.