Personally, I believe Mastodon needs no introduction. I began tuning in during the period between Leviathan and Blood Mountain era, captivated by the shear heaviness of the jams and Mr. Hinds fancy fret-work. And then... and then they released Crack the Skye in 2009. (The following two words I speak with utter confidence) THIS MASTERPIECE pretty much solidified my status as a dedicated fan knowing that I will follow and enjoy anything these guys throw at me.
The Hunter is not Crack the Skye. It is not this wondrous caldron that bubbles and bursts perfectly. Having said that, The Hunter is impressive in it's own right. It is aggressive and jagged yet smooth and comforting... It is a welcome addition to what is the Mastodon legacy, combining familiar Mastodonian sounds on tracks like "Black Tongue", "Stargasm", and "Spectrelight" with the not so expected "Creature Lives".
All of The Hunter is a great listen. Brann's drumming fills and rolls continue to leave me jaw-dropped and the chemistry of these four guys is breath-taking. It is especially more clear than ever knowing that all four musicians put fourth in this collaborative effort.
The introductory track, "Black Tongue," begins in typical Mastodon fashion- heavy bass ambience, great percussion, and a killer lick. The track couldn't be better placed. For long-time Mastodon fans it's easy to recognize the building blocks of this band and therefore easy to find oneself enjoying the new tunes. It's also perfect for noob's for it's shear brilliance... and what's not to like when the song ends with "death of the sun".
I really enjoy the track placement, the beginning of this album is chock full of Mr. Hinds genius on the lead guitar and the affinity these musicians have together. "Curl Of The Burl" is followed by, one of my favorite tracks "Blasteroid". What a great title. Again we find Hinds melting our faces while Kelliher, Sanders, and Dailor create a tremendous groove. The groove is turned into a nightmare when the cleanly sung vocals turn to blood curdling screams. These are some of the most aggressive vocals I've heard from the band.
"Stargasm" (another, among many, fantastic song titles) begins with a harmony that could easily have been placed on Crack the Skye. This cosmic intro creates a faultless build. I must note, Brann's work here is splendid. The chorus is instrumentally vivid allowing the cheap lyrics to pass unnoticed.
The following tracks "The Hunter", "Dry Bone Valley", and " Thickening" change the pace. Here the sound builds to prepares us listeners for something never expected on a Mastodon album. That something is "Creature Lives" with its immensely thick electronic whirls, beeps, and zips. This is a very mellow tune for the likes of Mastodon. I personally love the simplicity of the song structure, quirky lyrics, and vocalizing background singing. This is the song that will either greatly disappoint the listener or ignite the listeners contemplation. That being said, I feel this is brilliant.
Never fear, if you needed punched in the throat Mastodon follow up the easygoing "Creature Lives" with the thrashing "Spectrelight". The riffage loops around, strangling you while the bass and drums barrage your skull. "Spectrelight" I haven't the faintest idea how to continue...
The Hunter is another strong addition to an already spectacular discography that Mastodon has given us. The instrumental orchestration is superb, proving the creativity and artistry of these four gentlemen. The art work is unusual and unique, completing the package. I spent the extra dough for the "Deluxe Edition" which offers a couple bonus tracks "The Ruiner" and "Deathbound". Serious fan should certainly pick these tracks up.
The Hunter... Mastodon... 9 out of 10.
Troy Sanders - bass guitar, vocals
Brent Hinds - guitar, vocals
Bill Kelliher - guitar, backing vocals
Brann Dailor - drums, vocals