In these days and times, metal seems to have reached a point where no band can come up with something original, new and fresh and still impress the listeners of the genre. I felt the same way...until I heard Mastodon. Their sound is like no other -- and that's not a bad thing in any way. The band is very "sludgy" in their sound, to say the least. They might remind you of the band Isis in a way, but their musical compositions are much more intricate
than the aforementioned group. Mastodon combines ultra heavy guitar riffs amongst some of the most creative drumming I have ever heard in the metal genre. Top that all off with some added crunching bass work and put some distinctive harsh growls on top and you've got the band in a nutshell. Now you're ready to enter...
Let's start off on a good note with this review. Musically, this album is exciting, technical, intriguing, and new. I can't think of another band that sounds like Mastodon which I think is the reason why they're getting so much press in the metal community these days. They combine the crunching guitars of death metal with elements of jazz drumming, incredibly harsh vocals and grinding bass reminiscent to that of even punk music. The album is almost completely devoid of any sort of solo, but the songs are interesting enough to keep you listening without noticing. It works quite well. The guitar players Brent and Bill lock in greatly and take charge with their avant-garde style of metal riffing. Their often dissonant and down-tuned riffs always provide something new for the songs and keep the listener hooked. Troy's bass work and vocals are also very important to Mastodon's signature sound. His growls lead the group along in their almost chant-worthy lyrics whilst the rest of the band plows along with their chaotic instrumentals. I've also saved the best part for last. I usually don't think that metal drummers should take charge of a band and I don't think they should be in the spotlight of the songs the whole time. I take that back after hearing Brann Dailor play drums. His work on this album is outstanding, simply put. Brann combines the ultra speed of metal drumming with the impressive technicality to that of old school jazz drumming-style solos. It's inventive, new, and oh-so fun to listen to. All of you drummers out there should be listening to some Mastodon. The only problem that I can really find with the vocals is that you can't really understand them at all, but I think some of Mastodon's lyrics are actually pretty cool if you read them.
There's a common trend among just about every metal album in existence. Just about every album you'll ever buy by a metal group will have most of the band's best material in the beginning, then there is a drone in the middle, and then the band picks it up again and puts some of their better songs by the end. It seems to work because it hooks you in and keeps you attentive until the end where you'll be happy by the end. For the most part, Mastodon falls victim to this on Remission
. This problem was later fixed on their sophomore album Leviathan
which was completely devoid of any filler. My guess is that the band just hadn't fully matured yet in their sound and just didn't quite find their niche in songwriting yet.
The album hooks you in with the almost very heavy and almost thrashy "Crusher Destroyer". After that short piece of brutality you'll be introduced to my personal favorite off the album, "March of the Fire Ants". This song basically shows what every song on the album should have sounded like. After these two strong tracks are over with the album starts to go in a bit of a lull until the interesting song "Trainwreck" comes on five tracks later. It's a bit of a long time to wait, but this song is worth it. Featuring plenty of clean guitars and quiet vocals, this song sounds extremely evil and kept me interested through all seven minutes of it. There's another short section with somewhat average songs until the last two songs "Mother Puncher" and "Elephant Man" close Remission
on a good note.
So should you get this album? I would say yes, but I'd provide a few warnings first. For starters, this album isn't exactly easy listening. It takes a lot out of you and you might even feel tired by the end because of the harsh vocals and crunching guitars, even if you listen to metal. The sludgy tone just makes it feel that much heavier. Secondly, don't buy this album if you're looking for a perfect metal album. It's got a good deal of filler songs in it amongst the stronger songs, so I think you'd be dissapointed if you thought that this album was going to be a metal classic. Other than that, I don't see anything else against it. This album provides a new sound for listeners of the genre and also displays some very impressive musicianship, too.
Highlights of the album:
March of the Fire Ants
Where Strides the Behemoth
Final Rating: 3.5/5