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Mastodon - The Hunter (Cover Artwork)

Mastodon

Mastodon: The HunterThe Hunter (2011)
Reprise

Reviewer Rating: 4
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Contributed by: thepopeofchili-townthepopeofchili-town
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Mastodon were on a steady path for four albums running. Concept albums, somehow related to a particular classical element, a consistently mellowing sound from album to album, and some sweet Paul Romano cover art. You knew what you were getting into when you bought a Mastodon album. They were dependa.
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Mastodon were on a steady path for four albums running. Concept albums, somehow related to a particular classical element, a consistently mellowing sound from album to album, and some sweet Paul Romano cover art. You knew what you were getting into when you bought a Mastodon album. They were dependable. For their latest offering, The Hunter, they have decided to eschew all of those reliable albums' elements for something entirely new, but no less awesome.

The first thing you notice about The Hunter is its cover artwork. The actual sculpture used for the front cover is like nothing else in the band's catalog. This is emblematic of the bigger changes that follow. Things start off fairly familiarly with "Black Tongue". The song sounds like a slightly sped-up version of Crack the Skye's "Oblivion" until the Leviathan-esque riff kicks in about halfway through. This is a nice little nod to the band's past before things start to get weird. The next track, "Curl of the Burl" is perhaps the most immediately catchy song the band has ever penned. Its melody and fuzzed-out guitars recall Queens of the Stone Age's better radio material.

Since the band have decided to not write a concept album for the first time since 2002's Remission, one would think they might try to write some personal, reflective lyrics. For any other band that may have been the case, but Mastodon have taken this opportunity to get even weirder. The aforementioned "Curl of the Burl" begins with the charming phrase "I killed a man, â??cause he killed my goat." The chorus of "Blasteroid" proclaims "I wanna drink some fucking blood! I wanna break some fucking glass!" Meanwhile, "Stargasm" is about exactly what you think it's about. We've only just covered the first four songs on the album. This weirdness factor lasts throughout the duration of The Hunter, and only adds to its uniqueness. Can you imagine songs called "Bedazzled Fingernails" or "Octopus Has No Friends" making the cut on any of their earlier albums?

Another major difference between The Hunter and their earlier work is the role of producer Mike Elizondo, whose previous producing credits include work for 50 Cent, Carrie Underwood, and Maroon 5. His slick pop style actually works surprisingly well with Mastodon's unique brand of sludge metal. Everything sounds HUGE.

As always, bassist Troy Sanders and guitarist Brent Hinds trade vocals throughout the album, though there are some other participants in that department. Scott Kelly of Neurosis guests on "Spectrelight", and drummer Brann Dailor, whose only previous vocal contributions were on the verses of Crack the Skye's "Oblivion" and the jokey King Diamond-esque "Cut You Up with a Linoleum Knife" from the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie, takes the lead here on "Creature Lives". The song is perhaps the most mellow track in the group's history. As with their previous outing, Crack the Skye, the majority of the vocals on The Hunter are sung cleanly, rather than the grunts and screams of their early work, but the energy level is way up from that album throughout its runtime.

The Hunter is unmistakably a Mastodon album, but it also showcases a variety of new directions the band has never braved before. It will be interesting to see where they go from here. Until then, The Hunter stands as one of, if not the best metal album of 2011.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
theproblemwithfire (January 18, 2012)

this is the first mastodon album i've been disappointed with. there's some good material on it, but it flows weird. even the band has stated that its more like a mix tape, which i would agree as it seems to be unable to decided if it wants to sounds like old mastodon or newer, QOTSA-sounding mastodon. honestly, I have no problem with the melodic direction they've taken but this was a weird record and i don't care for it as a whole.

misterspike (October 18, 2011)

Just getting around to listening to this all the way through ... and Holy WOW. It drags a little in spots (it does push an hour after all) ... but this is going to melt my brain for a while to come. Fantastic.

jeffrichey (September 29, 2011)

Agree with Mohammed. CTS took a while to get used to. Definitely helped it by releasing a great live version of the album on DVD for me. and 'Hunter' is in that 8.5/10 range. Solid record. These guys aren't going anywhere.

On a side note, I did enjoy Primate in Orlando, two nights ago, and Whores were very heavy and loud!

shenaniganss (September 28, 2011)

I swear Josh Homme has uncredited vocals on Curl of the Burl - those "woah-ohhhs" just seal the qotsa deal. I'll leave my unjustified score for when I listen to the whole album.j

dlangl4 (September 28, 2011)

So the comments section under reviews is where all the drama takes place now on punknews. TNT should sponsor this part of the site.

paulsilence (September 27, 2011)

That's why I said "I like to treat it" as such. I didn't claim congruence. You all are hopeless. Enjoy your pointless ratings, and then enjoy bitching how the ratings affect year-end rankings.

This site is shit and has been for a long time. Peace.

inagreendase (September 27, 2011)

"So.... don't take reviews seriously? The score is part of the review. If it's a four star review, people expect a bit of criticism. Also, I like to treat five star scores like A's rather than "a perfect piece of art." An A can be anything from 90-100, and therefore there's room for imperfections."

Also, grade point averages have zero congruence with review scores.

inagreendase (September 27, 2011)

@paulsilence

Just because something isn't "wrong" with an album doesn't make it perfect to that given reviewer. It's more of a measure, at least to me, of how far you enjoy the album.

MuhammadMormon (September 27, 2011)

Also, I've finally warmed up to "Crack The Skye". I'd also give that a solid 8/10. This, I'd give more of a 8.5/10.
Mastodon= fun times.

Carlo_Cabinetti (September 27, 2011)

May check this out, I love Leviathan, but i've never heard Crack the Skye. Saw 'em live at the time and the song really put me off. I like the sound of this though.

paulsilence (September 27, 2011)

So.... don't take reviews seriously? The score is part of the review. If it's a four star review, people expect a bit of criticism. Also, I like to treat five star scores like A's rather than "a perfect piece of art." An A can be anything from 90-100, and therefore there's room for imperfections.

You're right, though. I should know better than to take punknews.org seriously.

bryne (September 27, 2011)

Also, good album.

bryne (September 27, 2011)

"Not saying it needs to be five stars, I'd just like for critics to put more effort into justifying their scores."

I'd just like readers and commenters to put less stock in scores since they're the much, much less important part of the review, but what're you gonna do?

MuhammadMormon (September 27, 2011)

Pretty enjoyable.

MN_DrNick (September 27, 2011)

Metal album of the year.

JaseHxC (September 27, 2011)

There are very few metal bands that I can get into, but Mastodon service every single one of my metal needs and desires. I listened to the album front to back four times in a row with no issues. I find every Mastodon release to serve a certain purpose, The Hunter ties all those separate purposes together while still leaving a need for everything that preceded it. I hope this album brings the band fame and fortune and the further credit they have always deserved.

4.5/5

paulsilence (September 27, 2011)

Yeah, but there's not a single critical statement justifying lopping off a whole star. Not saying it needs to be five stars, I'd just like for critics to put more effort into justifying their scores. And the whole unattainable five stars thing feels too Pitchforkish to me. Four stars should mean: These tracks are weak in ____ ways, or the production suffers from ___, etc. Something.

thepopeofchili-town (September 27, 2011)

Five stars for me is "Perfect, all time classic". I've never written a five star review before. This album rules, definitely in my top 10 of the year, but I don't think I could justify five stars.

paulsilence (September 27, 2011)

So four stars, eh? Where are the criticisms justifying the score? By reading the review, I found myself confused about this. It reads like a five star review.

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