Review Summary: A seriously talented band that doesn't organize its fascinating chaos
Just take a look at the song titles in this compilation; “Call of the Mastodon”, “Deep Sea Creature” “Shadows that Move” “Battle at Sea”, everything implies that Mastodon’s music is huge. In fact it is a force of nature. Combining the epic heaviness of bands like Neurosis, and the adventurous melodic aggression of Metallica, this record often sounds like a concentrated Times of Grace or a ten ton Ride the Lightning. And if the distance among the two seemed impossible to be covered, Mastodon effortlessly created that new hybrid, that combination that would become their trademark ever since.
At times it seems that their songs need no more than a few minutes in order to climax; for example Battle at Sea starts with eerie acoustic guitar, which gradually changes into a menacing melody. A mid tempo mammoth-like riff enters and then steadily the track grows towards a thrashy section with fast guitar parts before collapsing again into the sludgy riff which is essentially the spine of the song. In other occasions, the band uses sharp riffs to create constant intensity, such as in Deep Sea Creature or in Slick Leg, where the lazy opening notes are followed by an amazing riff and fast, blast-beat driven parts.
With Thank you for This and We built this Come Death Mastodon pay a tribute to Dailor’s and Kellither’s past; the noisy aggression and the economy in length (the longer among the two lasts barely over two minutes) are reminiscent of their Today is the Day collaboration, however even these tracks are too dressed up musically to be considered noise metal. Finally there are tracks like Call of the Mastodon or Shadows that Move, where different variants of the same riffs make the listener feel that these tracks are actually much more restrained, but also that Mastodon are indeed capable of successfully containing their madness.
None of the above would have been possible of course if it weren’t for their incredible technical abilities; not only do they occupy one of the best contemporary drummers, Brann Dailor, but also they benefit from a guitar duo that executes perfectly even the fastest riffs, harmonizes almost every guitar lead and adapts to even the oddest time changes. Nevertheless, Sanders’ and Hinds’ vocals are flat in their harshness and can be a little weary.
Call of the Mastodon, the band’s farewell to Relapse and an interesting compilation of their earliest songs, re-recorded and in somewhat alternate versions, only suffers from the strong sense that Mastodon have not their ducks in a row yet. There are occasions where the listener feels that the band needlessly throws too much chaos in very little spaces. However, despite the fact that in this compilation Mastodon clearly exaggerate at times and that there are one or two weaker tracks (such as Welcoming War or Hail to Fire), the band’s artistic ambition was already evident and these 9 tracks actually hint Mastodon’s grandeur, even at this early stage.