by YHB USER (9 Reviews)
July 4th, 2007 | 16 replies

Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist

Review Summary: No classic, but the beginning of great things.

Many people know Mastodon now as a bunch of bearded loonies who have songs about white whales and old novels. And, fair enough, it is a true description, despite how very vague it is. But before the success of Leviathan propelled them into the public spotlight, Mastodon released this, their first album proper, which would deviate from the lesser sounds of Lifesblood their demo, and showcase their talents as a band.

Remission takes less than a second to show you that this is no ordinary band - seriously. The opening sound effect is taken directly from Jurassic Park, which then morphs into a thick, speedy tune that makes up the opening track Crusher Destroyer. You’re never really quite sure how the hell they manage to pack so much into such a short song - everything happens at once, and after two minutes, it’s all over, which is a shame - it’s a decent opening track which could have been so much more. The same could really be said about Where Strides the Behemoth - it’s a really good song, one of the best on the album in fact, but it’s really too short to be considered epic. The sound completely rushes around you, and it all seems to go too quickly for you to make anything of it; it usually takes a few listens before you know what’s happening, yet when you know what’s happening, you’ll be glad you persisted.

March of the Fire Ants is a completely different beast altogether. That pounding four-part riff has continually found its way onto many a live Mastodon set, and is also one of their most famous songs, along with Blood and Thunder, Hearts Alive and The Wolf is Loose. After a few runs through of that opening guitar riff, Troy litterally explodes into the song with the usual fantasy vocals that really fit Mastodon’s songs, but other people‘s music with these lyrics would be plain stupid. This is the first really progressive song from Mastodon’s catalogue; it manages to effortlessly segue between different tempos and sections, not once stopping for silly, open silences that are so often found on common albums; it simply wouldn’t work here.

Workhorse is a somewhat ignored track; this, I personally can’t understand, as it is a quality, yet more mellow, thrasher that holds back compared to the two speedier tracks already described, and for this, it’s a heck of a lot better - you can actually hear the music that accentuates those vocals, which is a good thing, as one thing this band can do is create some supremely good music that accompanies their lyrics.
Burning Man is somewhat disappointing, as Mastodon’s speed gets the better of them, and there’s no real way of comprehending exactly what is happening at the start of the track, which sounds like someone who’s picked a guitar during a sugar rush.

And we reach the three epic songs on this album; Ol'e Nessie, Trainwreck and Trilobite. Ol'e Nessie is atmospheric, as a distorted bass guitar crackles in the background as the lead guitar is allowed to progress through, then passes through into a heavier section, which makes a welcome break from the speed. The focus instrument here is the guitar, which at times manages to make the seamless transition from beautiful lead notes to a wall of sound which reflects the harsh vocal nature. Trainwreck could be considered a beefed-up Ol'e Nessie, in fairness; it manages to do everything Ol'e Nessie does, and a hell of a lot better. Every instrument gets a half-decent focus here, and it’s not surprising to find Brann Dailor’s drums go haywire as the guitars provide a decent backdrop to Troy’s vocals.

Mastodon truly come together with Trilobite. It takes just over a minute before the band effortlessly come together in the same style as Ol'e Nessie and Trainwreck, although where it differs is in it’s progressing guitar line; you can almost imagine seeing several fingers travel up and down a fretboard as you get the clean guitar section melding in with the heaving choruses, and their ability to switch between these two different styles is impressive.

While Trampled Under Hoof is a personal favourite, it’s easy to note that it’s simply a rehash of everything that’s gone before (albeit a good rehash). Mother Puncher is a great track, where the title came about from previous vocalist Eric Saner shouting ‘This song makes me want to punch my mother!’ The heavy guitar lines make their way into the track by leading the band along, with only the backdrop of the bass and vocals really making any progressions, until the familiar slow-yet-crushing verse makes an entrance. Elephant Man is an excellent instrumental track, with the beginning section almost feeling sad and remorseful, in a way, then the track starts to increase in power, featuring some excellent solos, but never deviating away from that powerful rhythm that courses through it’s veins.

If you’re lucky enough to have the special edition, then you’ll have heard their Thin Lizzy cover of Emerald. It’s a tremendous cover, very possibly on par with TL’s original version. Troy commanding as much power from the opening lyric as Phil Lynott , and the band aren’t afraid to stamp their mark on the song as they stay true to the original, yet give it the extra oomph that it might have needed the first time around.

So what should we make of Remission? Well, it’s a fine album, and one that no Mastodon fan should be without. It’s certainly got the elements of the Mastodon of the future - maybe not in the way a fan might expect - but they’re all here and present. If you hated Blood Mountain and Leviathan, this won’t exactly change your mind about Mastodon, though it’s sufficiently different enough to warrant a listen anyway. It didn’t exactly set the world alight, but it’s a good ride if you can get your head around it.

Verdict: 8/10
Talented metal has returned - yet not in the way you might have expected

Standout tracks:
- March of the Fire Ants
- Where Strides the Behemoth
- Workhorse/Emerald (if you have the special edition)
- Trainwreck
- Trilobite

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Comments:Add a Comment 
July 4th 2007


Great review, man.

July 4th 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

Indeed, nice writing style.

This album is fantastic. just a shame that Brent is dragging the band into the depths of suck when they play live now.

Too much weed, Brent...tut tut.

July 4th 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

I wathced their Workhorse Chronicles DVD and I came to the conclusion that Brent is the dead weight of the band. Watch him be replaced sometime in the near future.

This was a good CD but I don't think it was amazing.

July 4th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

If all the tracks on this were more like Crusher Destroyer, the album would be alot better.

July 4th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

I really hate it when people use the phrase "album proper" or anything of that sort.

July 4th 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

My friend once said Mastodon sounded like Black Sabbath meets Lord of the Rings. I tend to agree, even though I do sorta like them. Their next album should be a Harry Potter concept album.

July 4th 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

^^^ No. Because that would seriously suck.

HP blows.

Staff Reviewer
July 4th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

right because CRYSTAL SKULL is so much cooler

July 4th 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

I'd rather listen to the lyrics in Crystal Skull than be subjected to the tales of a faggot with a wand.

July 4th 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

Hey thats funny because you like Opeth hahahahah. So you'd rather listen to "LOLZ MOUNTAIN WITH A CRYSTAL ON TOP LOL" than kickass stuff. Sounds like a typical bonehead metal fan to me.

July 7th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

You guys crack me up!
Seriously, good review and an equally good album. I will pick this up one day.

Digging: Godflesh - A World Lit Only By Fire

Tarantino's Tarantulas
July 7th 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

Opening riff of Workhorse rules.

June 26th 2014


Always been meaning to get into these guys and this looks tempting.

Digging: Diocletian - Gesundrian

July 7th 2014






Digging: Ariel Pink - Pom Pom

August 18th 2014


Album Rating: 4.0

Nice band failed tag ... What i'm trying to say is that they are awsome but the sludge metal tag that the press gave them fails.
Aside from few melvins/neurosis (souls, silver, times) oriented riffs they have no relationship to the genre furthermore neurosis are not the typical sludge metal example anyway

August 18th 2014


yea tbh would never call this sludge metal i mean i guess its heavy and got that guitar tone but it doesnt sound like any sludge metal ive ever heard altho i am not an expert on the genre

btw i got the 2014 reissue and its great some might say it never needed a remastering but it would be worth illegally downloading just to check out how it sounds

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