Mastodon
The Hunter


4.0
excellent

Review

by Eli EMERITUS
September 26th, 2011 | 19 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "The Hunter" is everything a great metal album should be, as Mastodon have shed their more progressive sensibilities and replaced them with a more streamlined and straightforward brand of songwriting.

Back in 2009 it seemed as though Mastodon, the media darlings of the metal world, had hit a bit of a snag. After all, after their debut release Remission, the Georgia four-piece had been rocketing into fame at an alarming rate, with many heralding them as the next big “thing” in metal. The snag, however, came in the form of a new album, and also in the form of a predictable yet polarizing new direction. Crack the Skye had a divisive effect, with many finding the band’s maddening descent into self-indulgent progressiveness a little hard to swallow. The album was bold, ambitious, and ultimately disjointed; a bizarre and directionless effort that tried too many different things, each feeling either contrived or half baked. Two years later it seems as if Mastodon have made a complete 180, pointing them toward a direction they are most comfortable with. The end result is one of the most impressive releases in their ten year history.

The Hunter is as grand and ambitious as Crack the Skye ever was, but this time around Mastodon have brought back their more metal sensibilities. The product is a solid affair that doesn’t limit itself too much, feeling much more in tune to their Leviathan era music. The progressive sound that’s been growing like a cancer has been quarantined a bit and the album is helped immensely because of it. Songs no longer wander endlessly, nor do they seem aimless in their execution. Instead, the tracks on The Hunter feel exceedingly tightened, if not much more conventional. In fact, this is perhaps the most grounded Mastodon have ever been, as the perfect marriage of metal, hard rock, and progressive rock have yielded a surprisingly streamlined and “normal” experience.

For those out of the loop, Mastodon play a mish-mash of seventies progressive rock, hard rock, and metal, with a dash of sludge thrown in for good measure. They’ve made a signature sound for themselves, but share a great deal with other southern metal acts such as Baroness and Kylesa. They stand above their peers in regards to technicality however, as Mastodon are fantastically proficient with their instruments. Yes Brent Hinds still wanks the minor pentatonic, but his fast and fluid hybrid picking makes him standout amongst the rest. Added to that, vocal duties are shared by just about every member, which sounds iffy but is actually quite endearing in its practice. This only furthers the feeling that band sounds more like a unit rather than separate members.

The Hunter is named after Brent Hinds’ older brother, who during a hunting trip died of heart-attack. Thus, the album is Mastodon’s second only album to not be tied to a ridiculous concept. In a way this probably helps The Hunter, as there is no longer some outlandish story of which the music must follow. Instead, Mastodon have focused their creative energy into the compositions themselves, which end up being some of the most fun, intriguing, and evocative songs in the band’s catalog. The track list is shockingly varied, but not so much that the album loses its solid grounding. Each member partakes in the songwriting duties, and the uniqueness of each track is the result. Melodic, thoughtful songs like “The Hunter” and “Sparrow” are complemented nicely by the more bold and energetic ones. The album is not want for quirkiness either, as “The Creature Lives” and “All the Heavy Lifting” (a song literally about lifting heavy objects) show a more brazenly fun side of the band. All in all, the ridiculous amount of diverse sounds and influences that make each track wonderfully unique is really the crux of The Hunter, as the album is full of pleasant surprises.

Mastodon feel rejuvenated on The Hunter. The album is a stripped-down and streamlined version of the band’s entire history, stuffed into an excellent 50 minutes. It’s easily at the top of the band’s discography, competing with the likes of Leviathan and Remission. It’s a solid exhilarating affair that will help bridge the gap that was created by Crack the Skye.



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other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Systemunfolded (3.5)
    Blasteroid? Stargasm? I suppose next it'll be Constipllation...

    BugZoid (4)
    The sound of expansion....

    drewcordova (4)
    Brief, accessible, songs with thundering drums and crunching riffs. The Hunter is a must f...

    Will C. (4.5)
    "The Hunter" offer listeners another chance to hear a new side of Mastodon, reinvented bas...

  • tsomitso (4)
    Four albums after the magnificent “Remission” and Mastodon still manage to create some...

    Nicholas Johnson (5)
    The Hunter will some day be launched into space, and will be deemed responsible for billio...

    Jake C. Taylor (3.5)
    How exactly does a band supplant old for new, or prog for succinct? They simply don’t....

    Adam Thomas STAFF (4)
    The workhorse chronicles...

  • BigHans (4.5)
    Masto-pop? You bet your ass....

    Edwin Damen (4.5)
    Mastodon continue to challenge themselves, and doing so without losing any bit of consiste...

    Dakota West Foss (4)
    I'm not exactly sure what a Stargasm is, but I'm pretty sure I just had one....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Xenophanes
Emeritus
September 26th 2011


10615 Comments


I like this album.

Digging: Kayo Dot - Coffins On Io

Acanthus
September 26th 2011


9543 Comments


Liked the band tidbit about his brother, didn't know that.

Digging: The Knife - Deep Cuts

Rev
September 26th 2011


9438 Comments


Yay a Xeno review, I agree wholeheartedly, except I dug the he'll out of CtS


XENO4STAFF2012

Uranium
September 26th 2011


7248 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i still need to listen to this

Ulsufyring
September 26th 2011


1724 Comments


So you gave Dum Spiro Spero a 2 and to this a 4? k... opinions are opinions I guess

This is always the dumbest argument. So he gave one thing one rating and one thing another rating, so what? You gave Relationship of Command a 3, but I'm not going to be like 'LOL OPINION INVALID'.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
September 26th 2011


7110 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

great review Xeno, have a pos, the background info is a nice touch.

Tyrael
September 26th 2011


20929 Comments


Nice to see you picking up your reviewing again

pos

scissorlocked
September 26th 2011


3511 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

good review man

album is very enjoyable

Digging: Traumprinz - All The Things

Jethro42
September 26th 2011


12492 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The progressive sound that’s been growing like a cancer has been quarantined a bit and the album is helped immensely because of it.

This sentence saddened me. jk I know it was referring to your opinion about the overuse of prog for Crack the Skye (it's never too prog for me though =P). Bon travail X-Man.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
September 26th 2011


7422 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Crack The Skye is a tad better album than this, but still this is totally amazing. Good review too.

Digging: Dope Body - Lifer

fish.
Contributing Reviewer
September 26th 2011


22024 Comments


I gave The Bends a 2.5 all my opinions are invalid

Digging: Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2

greg84
Staff Reviewer
September 26th 2011


7422 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

I couldn't care less about Radiohead, but Mastodon? It's a totally different story.

Jethro42
September 26th 2011


12492 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

All their albums are great, but from what I've utubed (their supposedly best Hunter's tracks), nothing too special to me on here.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
September 26th 2011


7422 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

I'm really digging their stoner pop approach on this album. Besides, it flows so smoothly. You should give the whole album a spin.

Jethro42
September 26th 2011


12492 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Sure I will. It's only my 1st impression after all.

bloc
September 26th 2011


34951 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

The Sparrow

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
September 26th 2011


7374 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review man. I liked Crack The Skye more but this is still pretty awesome.

conesmoke
August 27th 2013


5244 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Yeah the sparrow rules, but it doesn't quite make up for how heinous blasteroid is.

DrGonzo1937
September 10th 2013


6060 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Two years on and it's still a hard jam

Digging: Ilenkus - The Crossing



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