Mastodon – The Hunter

Release Date: September 27th, 2011
Reviewed by Evelyn Miska Krieger

For listeners used to Mastodon’s previous work, The Hunter will be a bit of a surprise. Not only has their sound taken a pretty strong turn but even the structure of the album differs. Typically, Mastodon albums have a handful of tracks most of which are upward of five minutes. On The Hunter, Mastodon plows through 13 tracks in short order. That said, more isn’t necessarily better.

“Black Tongue” begins the album with serious energy, though it isn’t nearly as introspective as some of their other work, for example, most of the tracks on Crack the Skye. As with a lot of the songs on The Hunter, “Black Tongue” is so much more in your face than what many listeners have come to expect from this band. The layers upon layers are still there, but the subtlety is in shorter supply. “Curl of the Burl” is almost catchy in a way that is unusual for Mastodon songs and while the song works, it sounds almost too mainstream compared with what they can and have done in the past.

“Stargasm” is one of the most disappointing fake-outs on the album. Beginning as if it was an extra track from Crack the Skye, the song starts with a dreamy quality that seems like vintage Mastodon. Unfortunately, that initial spell is quickly broken as the song shifts gears so abruptly listeners will get whiplash. The album’s title track begins with and maintains its ethereality. This is the kind of track long-time listeners likely are expecting and, unfortunately, it just doesn’t balance out the majority of songs that veer away from this style.

For a band whose last studio album was so incredibly inventive and cerebral, The Hunter may come as a disappointment. For those who are just discovering Mastodon, this may be the kind of album that will earn the band more fans, but is it worth it when the overall inventiveness seems to suffer as a result?

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