The Atlanta, Georgia heavy metal quartet Mastodon released their fifth studio album, “The Hunter,” on Sept. 27.
Since the group’s 2004 album “Leviathan,” Mastodon has steadily pushed their music further and further into progressive musical space. “The Hunter” is a change in this trended, marking the first time since “Leviathan” that Mastodon has looked backward. Their latest effort harkens back to the comparatively simple structures and short lengths that haven’t been heard from Mastodon in some time, while still utilizing many of the new musical tricks the band has picked up over the years.
Even though “The Hunter” offers shorter, simpler songs fans need not fear a loss in Mastodon’s exceptional musicianship; guitarists Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher pepper songs with impressive solos and bluesy, country flavor and drummer Brann Dailor still reigns as the best drummer in heavy metal, his jazz sensibilities resulting in a slew of impressive rhythms and drum fills.
This combination of excellent musicianship and the more straightforward rock and roll sound of “The Hunter” collide into a neo-blues sound, not unlike the exhibited by acts like Queens of the Stone Age or The Black Keys, but with a decidedly more progressive edge.
An ideal example of the neo-blues sound of “The Hunter” is the slow, grooving “Curl of the Burl;” the rhythm is solid, steady and simple and the solos are dirty and emotive, a far cry from the spacey meandering sound of Mastodon’s previous effort, “Crack the Skye.”
Head bangers should still find themselves at home with Mastodon, however, as songs like “Black Tongue,” “Blasteroid,” and the aptly titled “All the Heavy Lifting” all raise a shouting, uproarious ruckus.
Since their debut album “Remission,” Mastodon have yet to release a disappointing album, instead growing consistently better with age as they take their sound to new places with every new record. While fans will likely be split on whether or not “The Hunter” is a superior effort to “Crack the Skye,” few would argue it isn’t another solid record from one of the coolest bands in modern rock.
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