The behemoths of Sludge Metal, Mastodon, have become quite the reputable group over time, climbing festival bills and delivering record after record. I myself have barely checked in with the band since their classic breakthrough record "Leviathan" and I can't help but feel I'm enjoying this record more than the average fan would. Kicking off with "Sultan's Curse" the opening riff sounds as natural as Mastodon get, immediately identifiable with Brent Hinds verile voice. It doesn't take long for the record to set its desert sweltering, sun soaked tone. The warm undercurrent of broad baselines swell, heated under colorful, tonal guitar distortions that rock and groove, swaying back and forth in there own narrative. A constant switch and swerving of melodic inflections and pumping grooves come to light when the vocals illuminate there direction with earthly, raw yet harmonic singing that's got a rough authenticity and genuine softness too. Its a chemistry that works without force.
The record is always lively, not a dull moments passes as each rolling riff delivers melody and hardness. From crunchy grooves to expansive chords, guitar solos and interludes the adventure is sweet for all fifty minutes. On some tracks the whirling of soft organs can be heard in the backdrop, like mirages in the baking sun. If not for these its mostly a straight forward setting of guitar, drums and vocals, the themes and ideas emerge from the song writing but on "Clandestiny" the song pulls back to a Progressive Rock setting and busts in with vibrant electronic leads, very reminiscent of the tone used by "Contact". A robotic voice mutters as it comes to a climax and for a moment the record is transformed to a different setting. It works but is a rather isolated event in a very consistent record.
It's criminal that I haven't given more time to this band, I believe there strengths as song writers holds this record up however It doesn't have quite the immediate intensity of songs like "Blood And Thunder". This newest record "Emperor Of Sand" is more of a theme, a place, setting, a storey that the band really own. Listening to it alone makes the room temperature a little hotter. I really do like this temperate sun soaked breed of Metal they have put together here.
Favorite Tracks: Steambreather, Roots Remain, Word To The Wise, Jaguar God