Hold up Your Horns for The Hunter

mastodon the hunter

In 2009, Mastodon swept the metal masses off their feet with their comparably slower, melodic epic, Crack the Skye. I’ll admit, before that record, Mastodon and I were only acquaintances in the metal spectrum – we’d hang out every once in a while, I’d always play their songs on Guitar Hero, but they weren’t a band that had earned their spot as one of my favorite bands. Crack the Skye changed everything, it cemented a regular spot in my playlists, and somehow, those proggy bastards found a way to outdo themselves yet again with 2011’s The Hunter.

I realize not every Mastodon fan liked Crack the Skye as much as I did; it was definitely a less heavy, more abstract album. But whether you’re a fan of the older, thrashier albums like Blood Mountain or Remission, or their more experimental colors shown in Crack the Skye, you will love The Hunter.

Hunter is the perfect sonic mixture of the heavier, faster days of old, and the newer focus on songwriting and dynamics.  Around every corner of this album is something that will catch you off guard, be it a virtuosic guitar lick or a hauntingly catchy vocal hook, this album will keep surprising you from beginning to end. The album’s first single, “Curl of the Burl,” is a dark and bluesy, catchy tune that you just can’t help but sing along to.  Others, like “Stargasm,” seem to take a page right out of Crack the Skye’s book, sporting one of the moodiest choruses on the album, and is quickly gaining ground as my favorite Mastodon song ever. These guys really have nailed the perfect mix of aggression and melody, as evident on tracks like the aggressive “Octopus Has No Friends,” which begins with a barrage of guitar riffs sprinkled with some haunting vocals. The vocals really do shine throughout the album, even if I still can’t figure out which of the band’s three singers are actually singing each part.

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Mastodon – “Curl of the Burl” — yes, that guy threw a tree into the FUCKING SUN!

It’s hard to pick just one or two shining examples of the great songwriting showcased on this album because there’s really not a bad song on the record. Every song brings a new element to the collective feel of The Hunter. The one oddball track that might put a puzzled look on your face at first is the off-the-wall “Creature Lives,” which opens with some psychedelic manipulation of what sounds like the THX sound effect, with random laughing and bleeps and blips that make you feel like you’re about to journey on some kind of drug-induced trip to the moon. More than a minute into the track is when the song actually begins; it’s a drawn out, folk-like chant about a swamp creature, which I can totally be down with. And as bizarre as the song is on its first listen, it’s actually a blast to listen to, even if just for how silly it all feels in the end.

So what you’ll find on The Hunter isn’t exactly the relentless attack found on Mastodon’s earlier work, but you won’t find any thirteen-minute epics like on Crack the Skye either. What you will find is an expertly crafted, 47-minute rollercoaster of dynamic progressive metal that is a perfect culmination of the best of Mastodon’s strengths. Good luck keeping this album off repeat; it’s absolutely one of my favorite releases of the year.

-ivan.


Standout tracks:

“Stargasm,” “Curl of the Burl,” “Bedazzled Fingernails,” and “All the Heavy Lifting,” but every song on this album rules.

For those that haven’t seen this already, this is another reason why I love Mastodon. These guys don’t take themselves too seriously at all:

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About Ivan Torres
http://isles-band.com More Metal Than Colossus.

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