I knew from the moment I heard “Curl of the Burl“, Mastodon’s latest single, that the band will eschew the prog-metal elements, of their previous works, in their new album, The Hunter. I also knew that their fifth album, whichever direction it’ll take, will be as awesome as the ones that came before it.
I was right. On both counts.
While The Hunter lack the complexities and concepts that made their former albums a success, it makes up for its simplicity. By simplicity, I mean that as a direct punch in the face kind of simple. There are no more 13-minute epic tracks in this album, just short and to the point, riff-heavy songs.
But The Hunter is still, by and large, a Mastodon album. The tracks may be short, but that doesn’t mean they’re “three-chord” songs. Although in small doses, it still has the same level of technicality that was displayed in Leviathan, Blood Mountain and Crack The Skye.
The riffs here are elephantine –heavy, thick, shakes the ground– and groovy. The first two tracks, “Curl of the Burl” and “Black Tongue”, are perfect examples of that. Brann Dailor’s skill didn’t fail to impress me either. His drumming is thunderous as always, and he showcased it perfectly in “All The Heavy Lifting”.
One of the things I love about The Hunter are the vocals. Compared to their other works, the vocals here are sung cleanly and with much emotion injected into it. No more grunts and screams. Sanders and Hinds, who trade vocal duties throughout the album, also harmonized pretty well.
While many of the fans I know bemoans Mastodon’s departure from its brand of prog-metal in The Hunter, I, however, welcome these changes. It’s refreshing to hear them this way, free from weird concepts and overbearing soundscapes, just organically heavy. This album is yet another worthy addition to Mastodon’s oeuvre.
Favorite Track: “Dry Bone Valley”
“Dry Bone Valley” is not the best track in The Hunter. In fact, the riffs are “meh”. But I love it for its vocals. It flows well and it’s pretty groovy. Have a listen: