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Mastodon - Once More 'Round The Sun (Cover Artwork)

Mastodon

Mastodon: Once More 'Round The SunOnce More 'Round The Sun (2014)
Warner Music Group

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: misterspikemisterspike
(others by this writer | submit your own)

It's been approximately 10,000 years since a mastodon was seen on Earth. Known for their resemblance to modern—day elephants and now—extinct mammoths, the mastodon roamed what is now known as North America until it was a victim of both predation and climate change. Mastodon, however, h.
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It's been approximately 10,000 years since a mastodon was seen on Earth. Known for their resemblance to modern—day elephants and now—extinct mammoths, the mastodon roamed what is now known as North America until it was a victim of both predation and climate change. Mastodon, however, has been roaming the world since 2000, with their first recorded evidence being 2002's Remission. The introductory "Crusher Destroyer" and punishing "March of the Fire Ants" from that album introduced the world to a new kind of animal: One with loud, punishing guitar riffs and multiple rhythmic time changes. Mastodon, simply put, heralded a new era of progressive metal with their debut album. In 2014, after a three—year break since 2011's acclaimed The Hunter, Mastodon is finally back with Once More ??Round the Sun.

Longtime fans will quickly recognize their progressive—metal heroes as soon as "Tread Lightly" begins to play. Slowly building into a sudden wall of metallic noise, the new listener will also be taken in immediately, the rhythm section of Brann Dailor (drums) and Troy Sanders (bass) pulling them down. Brent Hinds and Bill Keliher's swirling guitars will only wrap themselves even more tightly, ensuring that whomever starts listening to Once More ??Round the Sun will stick around for the full ride. There's no turning back once the play button is pressed (or the needle is dropped, unless it's to turn the record over). It's That good.

Pounding drums signal "The Motherload", with Dailor's clean vocals similarly dominating the song. Bassist Sanders gives a vocal delivery to interrupt the verses, and another one of Mastodon's strengths is once again revealed: The band's vocal abilities. There's no competition to be won, only the interplay between the three vocalists throughout the album's eleven tracks (only guitarist Keliher stays away from the mic). Each vocalist brings a different feel to each song, with the combination adding to Mastodon's rollercoaster effect.

"High Road" highlights Sanders' low, growling vocal delivery and a plodding tempo. The chorus brightens with singers trading off, with the verses going back to Sanders' distorted growl. The instrumental parts continue with the same method, going from furious to melodic and back again. The song finishes dirty and determined, ending with a bang, not a whimper.

The title track is a furious mixture of vocal interplay between Sanders and Hinds, with the guitars and drums mixing between them just as seamlessly. Starting furiously at the beginning, the tempo plods to an end, giving way to "Chimes at Midnight", which speeds back up almost as quickly and without warning. It's the kind of ride that Mastodon has mastered, taking the listener on a psychedelic ride that never seems pre—determined, yet always feels natural. By the end of the track, you feel as if you are floating through space.

"Asleep in the Deep" maintains that floaty, ethereal feel, with the band evoking a dreamy (perhaps drugged—out?) feel, while "Feast Your Eyes" brings the listener closer to the ground, cranking up the ferocious sound one would equate with Mastodon's long—extinct namesake. "Aunt Lisa" is introduced by some serious guitar picking (and bass interplay), and punctuated with fierce distorted growls in the chorus, with Hinds' sweet vocals soothing the pain immediately after. Drummer Dailor takes it over once again, only to have the growls once again conquer his efforts. The song finishes with a a group of cheerleaders and a "Hey! Ho! Let's Go! ? Let's Get Up and Rock and Roll" cheer at the end, evoking both the Ramones and Faith No More's "Be Aggressive" (from 1992's Angel Dust).

"Ember City" continues the band's sensory attack, with all four instruments equally contributing to the experience. No one sound dominates the landscape, and it's a quality that resonates throughout the album. All four players are equally represented, and while one may be singing lead, or taking a lead part, the others never take a backseat, all contributing equally to the overall soundtrack. While the listener may be paying more attention to one aspect of the sound at any given time, they would certainly notice the absence of any one of the others at that same moment. Mastodon's sound is that cohesive.

The 55—minute album closes out with "Diamond in the Witch House", which is every bit as epic as its title suggests. Starting with an acoustic guitar, it slowly builds into an electric dirge leaning heavily on Dailor's ability to alternate rhythm, his drum fills becoming a centerpiece of the song's structure. Eventually, each member gets his chance to shine, both vocally and instrumentally over the song's nearly eight—minute length. Taking the listener on the aforementioned Mastodon rollercoaster, it goes for that final loop at the end before finally letting the track stretch out so the rest of the energy and speed can dissipate.

Topping itself with every release since its inception, Once More ??Round the Sun arguably shows Mastodon as a band at the pinnacle of its creativity. This is 2014's Metal Album of the Year.

 

 
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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.
ifthesetrees (July 14, 2014)

Never had time for Mastodon before. BUT this album has been played more than anything else since it came out. Kind of got something from it during the first listen, but 2/3 listens in, it's super hooky. Not a song I don't like and still unusual/heavy enough to guiltlessly enjoy. RECOMMENDED!

drugstorehooligan (July 10, 2014)

I like it. I've enjoyed most of the Mastodon that I've heard. I wouldn't personally say that I think every album is better than the last. Every album is a little bit different from the last. I think the progression from "Mother Puncher" to "High Road" is noticeable, but you've got a few albums in between that they were trying out new things. As a complete album, "Once More 'Round the Sun" isn't as fluid as say, "Crack the Skye" but I don't think it was their intention. The thing I noticed between this album and "The Hunter" is that these songs are very catchy and I find myself singing choruses from these two albums more than the first four albums combined. The guitar work reminds me of "Blood Mountain" but the songs themselves are, I guess, what I would consider radio friendly versions. Saw them live about a month ago, and that's where I would focus my attention on the band.

danperrone (July 10, 2014)

i'll even go as far as saying that blood mountain was not very good. the vocals on that album are atrocious. after "the wolf is loose" there is nothing worth coming back to there.

sorciopeloso (July 10, 2014)

Mastodon stopped topping itself at least since Leviathan.

flowerfeeder (July 10, 2014)

I know everyone is waiting for it, so I guess I'll just be the one to come out and ask: Why is a progressive metal record being reviewed by PUNKnews?

Blabbermouth.net ain't reviewing the new 7 Seconds.

MichaelConway (July 10, 2014)

Great review and record. However, Remission was not their first recorded evidence. Even if you take the early, hard to acquire stuff out of the equation, the Lifesblood ep came first and introduced people to Mastodon. I remember buying that shortly after seeing them play at Hellfest (the one in Syracuse) a month earlier and falling in love with the band.

faithisforfools (July 9, 2014)

"It's an album that should be listened to from beginning to end. The way records should be."

I totally respect that, so that's what I'll do for this.

ryang (July 9, 2014)

Dangling modifiers.

misterspike (July 9, 2014)

It's an album that should be listened to from beginning to end. The way records should be.

faithisforfools (July 9, 2014)

I dig these guys, but The Hunter was fucking boring-as-hell. From what I've heard from this (3 songs, I think), it's worse.
I'll stick with Remission, Leviathan, and Blood Mountain.

danperrone (July 9, 2014)

it's just ignorant to believe that each mastodon release is better than the last

killtaker (July 9, 2014)

How about that Jonah Hex soundtrack?

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