Posts Tagged ‘ Brent Hinds ’

Album of the Week 25-2017: Mastodon – Emperor Of Sand

Out of all popular contemporary metal bands, Mastodon is the only one I can get behind. I respect how little they care about genre boundaries or belonging to a certain scene. From day one, they have chosen their own path and there is always a possibility that a new album is not going to sound anything like its predecessor. Curveballs like their 2009 psychedelic metal masterpiece ‘Crack The Skye’ are probably a thing of the past, as every record that followed attempted to combine the best aspects of their discography thus far, but none of them quite succeeds as well as ‘Emperor Of Sand’ does.

‘Emperor Of Sand’ is the record on which Mastodon learned to do all the things they already did a lot better. Their riffs are still heavy and not too fast, there is an abundance of classy twin guitar harmonies, drummer Brann Dailor still lays down some downright incredible fills and yet, it all sounds just a little better than before. The highly melodic hooks that started appearing around the turn of the decade are integrated into the heavy songs a lot better than ever and the increasing classic rock influences mix with the band’s heavy metal and hardcore roots more satisfyingly.

More importantly, the compositions are extremely interesting. Mastodon has clearly made an effort to make every section of the song be a new climax, which is especially beneficial to songs with a lot of drama, such as ‘Roots Remain’ and the epic closer ‘Jaguar God’. As stated before, the melodic choruses are still here, some songs even have several hooks, but they feel less like an attempt to cross over to the pop rock audience. Bill Kelliher and Brent Hinds have always been experts at weaving distinct guitar lines through each other and that feature of the band gets all the place it needs on ‘Emperor Of Sand’. Their bombastic sound helps. Hinds’ synth guitar in ‘Clandestiny’ adds an extra dimension to the sound.

In addition, the triple lead vocal assault seems to work better than ever. Dailor is there for the cleans, Hinds switches between a raw snarl and an Ozzy-like voice and bassist Troy Sanders is easily the rawest and most powerful of the three. They feed off each other and complement each other, which adds dynamics to songs like the highly catchy ‘Show Yourself’, dramatic harmonies to ‘Andromeda’ and impressive trade-offs are scattered all over the album. The vocals are not the thing that makes the album though; the guitars and the insane drumming are. As always.

While I will always be partial to ‘Crack The Skye’, Mastodon has really outdone itself on ‘Emperor Of Sand’. They have finally succeeded in combining all of their best qualities in a way that sounds “fluent”, for lack of a better term. I am somewhat reluctant to call the music on this record progressive metal, as the term conjures up images of Dream Theater clones, but it is a fact that this is the work of a metal band that wants to keep moving forward, with their virtuosity helping them rather than getting in the way of the songs. Quite an impressive feat, which makes ‘Emperor Of Sand’ one of the best metal albums released this year.

Recommended tracks: ‘Ancient Kingdom’, ‘Jaguar God’, ‘Steambreather’, ‘Roots Remain’


Album of the Week 26-2014: Mastodon – Once More ‘Round The Sun

Mastodon never ceases to surprise me. Despite the inaccessible nature of their psychedelic, progressive Sludge Metal, they’ve become one of the biggest name in the current Metal scene and – even more surprisingly – a welcome guest at many festivals. What is most amazing about them is that every album they release sounds different than its predecessor. Though ‘The Hunter’ didn’t really do anything new, it did strengthen their position as one of the more imaginitive contemporary Metal bands. ‘Once More ‘Round The Sun’ does explore a new territory for the Mastodon sound; at times, it’s surprisingly melodic.

For those unfamiliar with the band: Mastodon’s fundament is made up from the violent Jazz rhythms of Brann Dailor – easily one of the best drummers in Rock music – with Troy Sanders’ tight bass playing keeping everything in line. On top of that, we have Hardcore-inspired Sludge riffs courtesy of guitarists Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher and three guys with decent voices; Hinds and Sanders primarily, but also Dailor. None of these guys has a fantastic voice, but they are suitable and since the playful rhythms, stomping riffs, spacious psychedelic passages, unpredictable structures and intricate guitar harmonies are so overwhelming, that’s hardly a complaint.

While ‘Once More ‘Round The Sun’ is immediately recognizable as Mastodon due to all their trademark elements being in place, the album once again exceeds expectations due to to a higher dose of melody. The band hardly does any effort to hide that anyway; the opening salvo of ‘Tread Lightly’ and ‘The Motherload’ is surprisingly catchy by Mastodon standards. The first is a strong progressive Hard Rocker with a nice and dreamy chorus, while the latter is as a song quite possibly the most accomplished the guys have released so far; with memorable melodies and Hinds singing at his “Ozzy-est”, it’s a song you can just kick back to.

Other lighter highlights consist of the moving Progrock of ‘Asleep In The Deep’, which also contains one of the best guitar solos the band has ever recorded, the guitar harmony party that is ‘Ember City’, which has Mastodon’s most beautifully melodic chorus so far, and the surprisingly dreamy (given its title) ‘Halloween’, while fans of the more aggressive side of the band are served well by the Stoner Rock monster ‘Feast Your Eyes’, the delightfully brutal ‘Chimes At Midnight’ and the brilliantly titled dark epic ‘Diamond In The Witch House’ that closes the album. The awesome title track has a little bit of both, as does ‘High Road’. The vocal harmonies, by the way, are better than ever.

No, this isn’t better than the band’s 2009 psychedelic masterpiece ‘Crack The Skye’, but it’s about as close as it gets. No one who knows the band would have expected a part two of any of their albums and Mastodon does not disappoint: with ‘Once More ‘Round The Sun’, the band once again expands their sound by exploring a different corner of their range. And that is exactly why Mastodon is one of the best bands in contemporary heavy music: they’re a band that keeps challenging itself. And that’s the only way to create such a string of albums that are so successful, both commercially and artistically.

Recommended tracks: ‘Tread Lightly’, ‘The Motherload’, ‘Once More ‘Round The Sun’, ‘Feast Your Eyes’