Recorded as a tribute to the late brother of guitarist Brent Hinds, who died suddenly last year, The Hunter sees Mastodon creating a simpler pure metal sound with all conceptual notions and mass complexity that have surrounded their previous albums removed. This puts Mastodon in a position where the songs are more real and gripping as the feelings of the band themselves and their lives play a central role to the music, rather than having the band serve as complex storytellers. This combined with their relentlessly heavy stoner metal assault makes Mastodon sound like a more emotional Kyuss. And it's an amazing sound.
As one would imagine, The Hunter features much in the way of a doom laden atmosphere heard in the relentlessly heavy guitar sludgery. It adds a further sense of tenseness and drama to tracks like Black Tongue and All the Heavy Lifting which are also aided by the frequently evil sounding vocals of Troy Sanders. Sanders vocals are more powerful sounding than ever and play a more central role on this album. His vocals cover a range of emotions, be it celebratory, concern, loss, general bleakness, or pure evilness.
Mastodon manage to create a real emotional core on the albums title track though, the real track dedicated to Hinds' lost brother. With a softer sound and a guitar solo from Brent bursting with soul and passion, the track serves as an intense and gripping homage to a lost friend.
Favourite tracks would have to include the wonderfully and devastatingly heavy and thrashy Spectrelight which really springs out of nowhere and hits listeners hard. The trippy and powerful Queens of the Stone Age like riffs found in Blasteroid are also particularly enjoyable. But the song I really love has to be The Creature Lives for the reason that it is exactly what a song from Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band would sound like had it been a heavy metal album.
All I can say is that the gripping and dramatic yet trippy and evil stoner metal that is heard on The Hunter is some truly epic metal and is the best album Mastodon have made to date.
Mastodon's The Hunter is out on Tuesday. Eager fans can check all the songs out on the video below.