Review: “The Hunter” by Mastodon

I recently bought the latest Mastodon album, called “The Hunter”. So what’s up with the successor of their opus magnum (up to now, that is…) “Crack The Skye”? Well, it follows the footsteps of “Blood Mountain” and “Leviathan”, therefore much emphasis is put on riff-laden, mostly short and hard-hitting stompers and by that the album moves away from the epic conceptual approach that made up their 2009 masterpiece.

The carving on the cover (dubbed by a friend of mine as Judas Priest-ish, which fits pretty well…) indicates a step back to the old days’ aggressiveness, but the psychedelic and ethereal soundscapes are still featured to some extend. Best of both worlds, so to say, but don’t expect any tracks to come even close to the ten minute mark. The material on “The Hunter” is actually very accessible at first listen. Mastodon haven proven that this is not a bad thing before with their stand out track Blood And Thunder from “Leviathan” and now they spread it out on a whole album: after going overtly into outer space, down to earth accessibility is the key if you don’t want to repeat yourself!

Some new additions to the Mastodon sound are also present, especially if you listen to the vocal harmonies in Creature Lives.

Production-wise, Mike Elizondo, mostly known for his production jobs with Hip Hop acts (!), managed to keep up the high standards Mastodon have come to be known for. Every little detail has its place in the mix and the over all sound is a real punch in your face. Brent and Bill battle it out on the front line (again some low A tuning is present), while Brann and Troy keep the supplies never dry at any moment. To keep the tradition, Spectrelight is the track to feature vocals by Scott Kelly.

After only a few spins of the disc, I’m already willing to rank “The Hunter” as my top album of 2011, right next to Red Fang’s “Murder The Mountains”. In the Mastodon  catalogue, I’d rank it higher than “Blood Mountain”, but it doesn’t match “Leviathan” or “Crack The Skye”.

The documentary part on the DVD is rather disappointing when compared to the making of “Crack The Skye”, but hey, as Brann tells us: it’s just a rock album. They’ll make another one next week! On the other hand, the track-by-track commentary makes totally up for this, as does the video for Black Tongue, showing the carving of the beast gracing the cover. Also check out the more than funny video for the non-album track Deathbound!

 

Tracklist:

1. Black Tongue (3:26)
2. Curl Of The Burl (3:39)
3. Blasteroid (2:35)
4. Stargasm (4:39)
5. Octopus Has No Friends (3:48)
6. All The Heavy Lifting (4:30)
7. The Hunter (5:16)
8. Dry Bone Valley (3:59)
9. Thickening (4:29)
10. Creature Lives (4:40)
11. Spectrelight (3:09)
12. Bedazzled Fingernails (3:07)
13. The Sparrow (5:30)

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2 Responses to “Review: “The Hunter” by Mastodon”

  1. Zac - Heavy Planet Says:

    Great review, I do agree this one doesn’t quite match up with Leviathan and Crack the Skye. Honestly, I haven’t had the chance to check out the new Black Tusk or Black Cobra. I’ll be sure to try and keep up with your blog! Well done!

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