Friday, December 23, 2011

#17: Mastodon - The Hunter

This may be one of the most polarizing metal releases of 2011. Partially because Mastodon can hardly be called metal anymore.The Hunter (Reprise) could be considered progressive hard rock if you really need to stick a label on it. I believe it is the only band on my list on a major label. I also believe it is the most accessible album on this year's list. (#15 probably the least) I probably gave the album more attention than I would have if it wasn't Mastodon. I'm not much for second chances. Despite all that, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The album grew on me with each listen. So much so in fact, that I actually went to an actual store and bought and actual physical copy. The deluxe version actually. I will admit that there has been a huge shift in Mastodon's sound since Remission and Leviathan but it's just that. A change. You can't expect a band to sit still forever. The Hunter sees Mastodon move away from the restrictions of a concept album and put together a package of songs that still flow together. The sonics and sense of melody (especially vocal) on Crack the Skye continue and are even expanded on The Hunter. The band may have traded some burliness for beauty but that hasn't lessened the nimble-fingered fretboard fleetness of Troy (I can't hear the bass!), Brent or Bill and Brann still has a staggering fondness for fills. And we must not forget the hooks. There are so many guitar and vocal hooks on the album it could almost be renamed The Fisherman. To fully appreciate The Hunter you have to be able to focus on what is rather than what was. This isn't the Mastodon of 2002. This isn't even the Mastodon of 2006 (Blood Mountain). This is the Mastodon of 2011. As the band continues to evolve there is no telling what the Mastodon of the future might sound like. For now, I'm diggin' what I'm hearin'. "Creature Lives" and all.

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