Having woven such a rich tapestry of progressive and unpredictable delights over the last decade, Mastodon‘s back catalogue thus far is one of such insurmountable quality that we begin to wonder how the Atlanta four-piece can go about scaling such a benchmark, or indeed what’s left for the band to explore given their past forays into the deranged worlds of Cysquatch men, an astral traveling Rasputin and all devouring sperm whales.
Consequently, perhaps the most surprising facet of ‘Once More ‘Round The Sun’ is its business as usual approach, following on from the big hook bluster of 2011’s ‘The Hunter’ and forgoing much of the self-indulgence and sprawling peculiarity a la the landmark, ‘Cracke The Skye’. Foreseeably, there will be those that scoff at what may be deemed an uncharacteristically lazy plan of attack from Mastodon, but given its largely straightforward nature, this is a record which rocks with an unabashed accessibility.
We need look no further than the one/two punch of ‘The Motherload’ and ‘High Road’, a brace of pop metal anthems packing perhaps the most unforgettably commercial choruses of the band’s career, a reliance on out and out commercial toe tapping underpinned by a surging six-string fortitude and marking what could be a real turning point for the hairy ones future outlook.
Highlights spring out at every turn, whether it’s the lethargic hooks of the title-track’s spaced out, beatnik vibe, ‘Chimes At Midnight’ slinging out thunderous riffs for fun or the expansive oddity of ‘Asleep In The Deep’, and it is as we’re treated to an endless barrage of ear worm motifs and effortlessly infectious vocal refrains that ‘Once More ‘Round The Sun’ reveals itself as a rather stunning piece of work. Groundbreaking and boundary pushing it may not be, yet if there’s one thing Mastodon know by now it’s cavernous guitar riffage and arena baiting choruses. Here, they deliver in spades.
Written by Tony Bliss