Tuesday 8 July 2014

Review of 'Once More 'Round the Sun' by Mastodon

Album artwork of the year!!!

'Hey ho, hey ho, let's get up and rock n' roll!' sing a load of children on the eighth track, 'Aunt Lisa'. Seriously, is my hearing playing up? Did that just happen? That's the corniest thing I've heard since Beyonce and Jay-Z's duet 'Drunk in Love'. Pass me a sickbag!

Sludge metal outfit, Mastodon, have been getting less proggy since they dropped their last album, The Hunter. The crazy wtf-is-happening song structures have been slowly exchanged for accessible headbanger tracks with catchy singalong choruses. Now at their catchiest and most accessible, Once More 'Round the Sun is almost radio-friendly.  Basically this band HAVE SOLD OUT!

Nah, i'm kidding. Let's not get childish. Mastodon aren't sellouts. They aren't going all St. Anger on us. Once More 'Round the Sun still has ample soul behind it and the flashy, epic solos are still there. The songs still sound mighty and primal, if not somewhat ill-produced, and the melodies still showcase experimentation with some odd time signatures still subtly creeping in now and then. Indeed, the choruses (chorii?) are catchier than anything Mastodon has put out before but this is by no means a bad thing. In fact, its one of this album's greatest strengths.

'The Motherload', 'High Road' and 'Ember City' have some phenomenal vocal hooks. No-one makes metal this catchy anymore (except maybe Kvelertak). Why not? Catchiness is awesome! The only exception is of course that aforementioned cornball hook at the end of 'Aunt Lisa' but we'll forget that that ever happened. The other catchy moments here don't have that corniness and are just straight up epic. Festival crowds are going to be chanting out these choruses all summer.

I was hoping for another Crack the Skye and, whilst this album takes things in the opposite direction to - dare I say it - more poppy territory, it does it in the best possible way. I'm not too keen on the production, which seems to meld all the instruments and vocals together, not giving each component space to breathe. Aunt Lisa and the overly drawn-out closer Diamond in the Witch House are also noticeable weakspots, not quite carrying the same flair as other tracks. However, these flaws are dwarfed by the album's more prominent greater moments.