**** out of *****
The Hunter finds Mastodon cutting back the excess with surprising success, focusing on taut changes and pummeling riffs. Granted long time fans will probably be disappointed that the band hasn't expanded on 2009's Crack The Skye prog-rock leanings, but metal fans should perk up and be delighted at the Atlanta groups newest release.
Gone are the 10 minute opus tracks and returning in their place are the streamlined precision of a band motoring along. "Curl of The Burl" and "Black Tongue" are two early numbers that blast out and remind of the bands first major success, 2004's Leviathan. The Hunter is easily the most accessible Mastodon has been in years, but tracks like "Stargasm" and "Bedazzled Fingernails" sacrifice nothing in terms of power or freakishness as the sonic warbles and drums pound on the latter as the refrain "Lay me down, Stand on my ground!" rings out.
Other tracks show the groups prowess, "Octopus Has No Friends" will raise blisters on your fingers just by listening to it before the track captures the ear with it's ringing climax. The title track is the most expansive with nods to Black Sabbath and mid-tempo tracks from the band's own catalog while "Creature Lives" has a sci-fi beginning before slugging up from the depths into outer-space via vocal soaring, shattering things along its path.
By stripping down with The Hunter, Mastodon remains one of the most interesting bands in today's metal scene and with the disk's openness and listen-ability it wouldn't be surprising to find them gaining an even larger fan-base with this release.
Some tracks to preview the album, please purchase it and support great music.
"Curl of The Burl"
"Octopus Has No Friends"