Once More 'Round the Sun by Mastodon
Although I have been a fan of Mastodon for some time, I will admit that I am more of a “good time” fan than a full fledged follower. For those of you that don't know, “good time” fan is a phrase to describe a person who loves a certain sports team, but only when they are doing well. If the team loses a few games in a row or drops important players, this type of fan will lose interest and seek out other opportunities for entertainment. I am happy to say that, after listening to this album, I have become a solidified fan of this band. These guys tread the line between metal and prog rock in such a way as to almost trick the listener into believing that they are a just a really unique metal band. At first glance, they appear to be your run of the mill metal group, but upon further inspection, you notice things like the tattoo adorning a good chunk of bassists' Brett Hinds' face, or the fact that drummer Brann Dailor is an amazing fill-heavy, jazzy type drummer who only uses a modest eleven piece kit. All of this encompasses to bring us a different type of band that really just love what they do. With their sixth studio album, Mastodon welcomes the new light that has been shed upon them and embrace their new found sound and audience.
Right from the very first track, 'Tread Lightly,' the listener is made aware of the riffs and drops that give Mastodon their unique sound. The next track, 'The Motherload,' is my personal favorite, and the accompanying music video is as hilarious and well conceived as it is controversial, as it features the band performing whilst surrounded by several voluptuous women twerking their hearts out. The lyrics are sung by the Dailor with the backing vocals from guitarist Troy Saunders. Another unique feature about the band is the fact that there isn't a lead singer per se, as all members share vocal duties on all tracks. The song is catchy and almost encouraging in its message, which only adds to how cool the track really is.
Every track is solo heavy and full of time consuming riffs and fills, but it works well with the overall sound that this band has cultivated. Tracks like 'High Road' and 'Chimes At Midnight' are perfect examples of this, as they are fast and frenzied and feature treacherous guitar work. In 'Once More 'Round the Sun' and 'Asleep in the Deep' the listener is pulled into a more progressive side of Mastodon's sound, while retaining the heaviness of screeching guitars and solid drum kicks. The band does retain a bit of thrash and aggression, however, as shown in tracks like 'Feast Your Eyes' and 'Aunt Lisa.' The band enjoys taking advantage of space and time to flex their musical chops and fill the void of repetition and misplaced notes.
'Ember City' is an speedy, soulful track that leads into the not so spooky 'Halloween,' a thrashy, killer track that does bring about a small sense of paranoia. Rounding out the album is 'Diamond in the Witch House,' a collaborative track the band did with Scott Kelly of Neurosis that features acoustic and electric riffs under agonizing vocals and waning feedback.
I am happy to finally have taken a stance on my opinion of Mastodon, and although they have come a long way I know that as their tastes evolve and grow we will get even more of a blurring of lines between metal and progressive rock. Personally, I think the blending of genres will always be important for bands who want to stay relevant in today's quick fix world of one hit wonders and trend setters, and I will always be welcoming to new bands that want to exceed the risks and expectations of their predecessors.