Mastodon Excel’s By Keeping Things Grounded On New Album
By ~ Ian Billen : Personal URL
Ian’s Twitter – @IanBillen
If you’ve ever personally validated the old expression.. “it’s the simple things in life that make it all worth wild”, possibly you were sitting down at your favorite spot in the park to enjoy that sugar cone ice-cream. Or, perhaps your one of the eager many that has finally broken away from the stresses of his or her daily living to at last spin the Hard Rock/Metal Group Mastadon’s brand new release titled “Once More, ‘Round The Sun”. In either scenario there’s an aspect of level-headed simplicity. As well, in either one of these scenarios there’s not much to really complain about…
This is Mastodon’s 6th studio effort and although it appears this album picked up where their last album The Hunter left off, there’s definitely something simpler here with a more straight aimed focus. The opener “Tread Lightly”, introduces an acoustic guitar which is an immediate signal revealing this album is to be more thematically grounded than the groups recordings of the past. At three songs in, the most primary example of the entire album’s more simplified yet essential approach is “Long Way Down“. The song is direct, structured properly and strong, but for the most part it’s actually fairly basic.
Being as intricate and musically gifted as is a band like Mastodon one might worry, how could Mastodon’s sound be simplified or deduced and still hit the mark …especially keeping in mind their hard core fan base? After all, isn’t that grandiose complexity of the group’s most formidable attractions? The answer serves as something that is subconsciously more or less easy. It lies in a compulsory tendency toward the emblematic choruses that are doused all over and throughout the band’s newest set. The penning is laid down to simpler melodies, short bridges, and amiable refrains that establish a priority every bit as much as exuding the bands undeniable technical skill. This recipe calls upon customary Mastodon guitar solos three parts in, and then set to bake at 400 degrees for 54 minutes.
As was with Metallica during their Load and Reload phase of the mid 1990’s the songs on Once More, ‘Round The Sun demonstrate a slightly slower, even somewhat reserved sound for such an extraordinarily elaborate metal act. Their new Producer, Nick Raskulineczong (Rush, The Deftones) dusted off a few of his old text books from Songwriting-101 and put things down to a nice perspective along with the bands cooperation. The guitars sound is shaped a tad differently from this album’s predecessor while still remaining epic enough in nature, which is a crucial objective for this act. Possibly, the only complain able weakness to the actual recording modus operandi is that while guitars are certainly loud, upfront, and plenty crunchy, they lack a certain heaviness that was in place on their previous workings. This is not so much a major set-back, just a mere reality to the alteration of things this time out. Drummer, Brann Dailor’s clatter is as stand-out as on any of Mastodon’s others. On Vocals, both Dailor and lead guitarist Brent Hinds indeed seem more consciously focused to the task at hand. At the same time the two sound just a hint of being less inspired on a personal level. As are many situations in life the most practical in the big picture of things usually entails a trade-off or two.
The over all theme on this album is leaning toward something fundamental and purposeful to at times, even being sort of “catchy”. Not to mislead, the guys still certainly demonstrate their deepened interwoven musicianship; it simply wouldn’t be a Mastodon album if that were not in place. However, along with that excellent musicianship and complicated performance is a focused archetypical grounding that was not present in their other releases. Even the lyrics on this album sometimes indicate a sort of sensible, but uncharacteristic vulnerability. In some spots the wordage could even suggest the guys have loosened things up and are having a little fun at it, though quite modestly. The album’s tempo is a bit more measured than their usual and surprisingly, there is a familiar structure to a handful of the songs that isn’t completely different from those on today’s main stream rock charts.
Mastodon does take time out to conjure up a strong curve against the rest of this slightly standardized, somewhat conservative record. “Aunt Lisa” mixes Raskulineczong’s punk admiration, with psychedelic overtures to create a bemused (in humorously being taken aback by female vocalists in the outro), metal-mixed memoir of self-uncertainty. In ways the song is scattered but this doesn’t ruin what is to be the albums final section. Closing it out we are once again reminded of this collections more down to earth, basic outline. Another acoustic guitar is clearly present on the final “Diamond In The Witch House”. The song may not be 100% plugged-in but it’s certainly not any sort of discouraging weakened send off. Very present here are the crunchy chords, pounding drums, and the group’s not at all uncommon Ozzy Osbourne styled harmonies.
It is hard to say this particular album is better than the bands previous albums considering their strong track record and powerhouse statements earlier in the millennium. Ambitious staples such as Leviathan and Remission will remain more memorable than Once More, ‘Round The Sun in future years. However, turning out an album solely on that epic complexity probably would not of worked as well here at 15 years on. Mastodon have once again provided their newest music in being as solid as any act’s going. That solidity isn’t so much based in the actual iron ore as was in their past releases, but instead is the result based upon the solid ground unearthed that helped in creating it.
“Once More, ‘Round The Sun” : Result – 87%