Just when I thought metal was dead, along comes Mastodon – an eight-legged rock monster from Atlanta – with a game-changer…
There are always at least two sides to any possessed beast and with The Hunter the contrasts between light and dark – or dark and darker – are clear to behold and are what make this album so expansive, engrossing and enjoyable. When Mastodon are heavy, they’re sumo – like with the pounding, QOTSA-ish stoner track “Curl of the Burl”. Choice track. Heavier still, and in a different spectrum, is the brutalizing “Spectrelight”, featuring guest vocals by Scott Kelly (Neurosis) which are not so much sung but ripped out and splattered against the wall in a bloody mess. Elsewhere, blue skies and sun rays burst through the storm clouds, providing light and contrast. “Creature Lives” is one of the most fantastical, pulsing, operatic, lighters-in-the-air sing-a-long metal ballads I have ever heard: the Pink Floyd-esque laughter in the opening, the guitar and bass first enchanting then clashing, the crazy, echoing lyrics… brilliant fun. This hoot is sandwiched between two of the most pummeling songs of the album, “Thickening” and “Spectrelight”. And, cheekily, Mastodon also invert a famous Beatles lyric on the title track with “All the love I make, Is equal to the love I take”.
No longer going off on 13 minute metal odysseys, with their fifth album Mastodon arrive punching in sub-five minute bursts. Refined, toned and in the prime of their life. The Hunter is one of the most relevant rock albums in a long while – nigh on essential. This is Mastodon for the mainstream. The creature lives – bow down to the Mastodon!
© Brian Banks, Editor, Music Vice