Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Album Review: Mastodon- Once More 'Round The Sun

Once More 'Round The Sun
***and1/2 out of *****
One of the few metal bands who have remained both commercially and critically successful over the last decade Mastodon comes back at listeners with Once More 'Round The Sun, another disk sure to continue their winning trend while not quite reaching their own established lofty heights. 

The most accesible disk the band has released Once More 'Round The Sound feels a close kinship with 2011's The Hunter. There is a lot of straight ahead rocking with melodic choruses, thundering low end and six string flights of tonal riffage but there is experimentation lurking under the surface. While it is polished, powerful, professional and nuanced it also lacks some oomph that seemed to be present on its predecessor (and all of their previous disks).    

"Tread Lightly" opens things by mixing acoustic strings with a sense of scale as the spaceiness swirls but never envelopes completely while "The Motherlode" puts the focus on Brann Dailor as he smacks the kit with fury in front of the loose strings on Troy Sanders bass. The first single "High Road" is traveled next via a chugging tempo that slams gorgeously into a melodic chorus, a great combo of the bands styles where as "Chimes At Midnight" fades out right when things are getting interesting.

The title track is an exception on the disk and perhaps because of this a real highlight. The only song under 3 minutes it finds Ozzy Osbourne-like vocals bouncing over a speedy progression all in front of some trippy effects. There are warbling guitars, a bizarre shift in tempo and a feeling of real peril; a fantastic feat reached in a tight wound number.   

The group goes almost ballad style (well for a heavy as hell metal band) on "Asleep In The Deep" but come raging back to life via vocal shifts and guest gang shouts from The Coathangers on "Aunt Lisa", one of the most aggressive tracks that manages to mix up a disk upon which the tunes can surprisingly feel very much alike after a few spins.

This could be the issue with the lack of real energy here. Mastodon has packed lots of sounds and musicianship into this disk distilling their more prog rock leanings (see 2009's Crack The Skye) into a more malleable mainstream metal accepted form. Not as raw as past efforts (which is expected) the group still pushes boundaries but the overall feel can come across a bit sterile while traveling Once More 'Round The Sun.  
This isn't a bad disk by any stretch (notice the stars) but it didn't personally speak to us like past Mastodon disks have.  That said it certainly feels like the type of disk that gets better with repeat listens.

Support the band here, buy the disk here and peep some video below:

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