The Atlanta metal behemoth that is Mastodon has returned with their fifth studio album, ‘The Hunter’. It’s the band’s second album (the first being ‘Remission’) that’s not a concept album by them, although it is dedicated to Brent Hinds‘ brother who tragically died during the recording process.
Aurally, there’s a noticeable progression from last album ‘Crack The Skye’, with elements of that more ethereal sound being retained while heaviness from previous efforts has been brought back into the mix. There is a lot more singing on this album than say ‘Blood Mountain’ or ‘Leviathan’, but not in a way that featured on ‘Crack The Skye’, the vocals ultimately end up being a gruff singing style that suits the band perfectly. ‘The Hunter’ also sees the first time that drummer Brann Dailor takes lead vocals duties for an entire track on ‘Creature Lives’, which shows how multi-talented the band is as a whole. Also guesting on the album is sludge metal legend Scott Kelly of Neurosis, who provides vocals on ‘Spectrelight’.
Mastodon are renowned for having a very guitar orientated sound, and ‘The Hunter’ doesn’t disappoint at all on that front. The guitars of Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher often combine to create twin-melody style lead parts in a style that is very reminiscent of Thin Lizzy, a band they openly idolise. ‘The Hunter’ features a lot of more melodic, spacey passages of music that in some places have a very Pink Floyd influenced feel to them.
The opening two songs (‘Black Tongue’ and ‘Curl Of The Burl’) kick off the album in a triumphant manner, and will happily stand alongside previous classics such as Blood & Thunder’, ‘March Of The Fire Ants’ and ‘Motherpuncher’. They pack as many riffs and drum fills into two songs that you could wish for in an entire album.
‘The Hunter’ sounds perfect start to finish, which can be attributed highly to the production values on the record. Mastodon used producer Mike Elizondo, who has worked on albums by artists such as 50 Cent, Maroon 5 and Avenged Sevenfold. By using a ‘poppier’ producer, Mastodon seem to have unlocked their perfect sound. They still produce a brilliantly complex, layered sound, but the production means everything has its own place and nothing gets drowned out by other sounds.
This album should be the record that opens all music fans to Mastodon. ‘The Hunter’ has the potential to take them out of just the world of metal and into a much wider media focus such is the strength of the song writing here. Every track will leave you speechless, be it though the guitars, drums or just the whole song structure coming together. Just chalk up another classic metal album to this band, they don’t seem to be slowing down at all yet.
Written by Josh Peett