Mastodon ‘Once More Round The Sun’ Review: weak production and mellower arrangements result in a mediocre follow-up to ‘The Hunter.’
Confession; my favorite Mastodon record is ‘The Hunter.’ I know that’s not the hip response, but if I’m to be candid, I like my metal on the melodic and direct side, and generally am left cold by prog-metal concept albums.
So when I heard that the band’s new album, ‘Once More Round The Sun‘ would be a continuation of the more accessible Mastodon sound, I was excited, but unfortunately, there isn’t much on the new release that can compare.
Opener ‘Tread Lightly’ is a template of what’s to follow; fairly tinny production, galloping riffing and hoarse but semi-melodic vocals from bassist Troy Sanders.
‘The Motherload’ has the distinction of being Mastodon’s catchiest song to date, but it’s also kinda annoying, with the sickeningly sweet cock rock vocals from drummer Brann Dailor; “This time, things will work out just fine!”
‘High Road’, the album’s first single is clearly going for the sinewy swagger of ‘The Hunter’s’ hit single ‘Curl Of The Burl’ but it lacks the ballsy crunch that track delivered, and that goes for the rest of the album.
The track that comes close is the churning, Sabbath conjuring ‘Chimes at Midnight’, with slithering riffing from guitarists Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher. Mastodon songs seem to sound best when Hines and Sanders share vocal duties, and the song benefits greatly from this.
But there are too many meandering, hard but not heavy tracks like ‘Ember City’ and ‘Halloween’ that feel stillborn.
Other songs are just plain odd; ‘Aunt Lisa’, a tribute to Kelliher’s late Aunt, goes from odd time signature prog riffing to a thrash metal outro with female voices chanting “Hey Ho, Let’s Fucking Go, Hey Ho, Let’s Get Up And Rock And Roll” cheerleader squad style. It feels shoehorned into the arrangement and lacks organic cohesion. It’s also a pretty awkward Ramones homage.
Part and parcel of the problem lies with producer Nick Raskulinecz (Alice In Chains, Foo Fighters), who always seems hellbent on sucking the marrow out of aggressive music, leaving it mushy and undefined. There is just a deficit of raw riffage to sink one’s teeth into.
‘Once More Round The Sun’ just feels like a missed opportunity; too mellow to satisfy metal heads, and too understated to appeal to those who like big rock melodic hooks. It feels out of orbit, and somewhat aimless, making it non-essential and largely forgettable.
Want to own ‘Once More Round The Sun’ on Amazon or iTunes? You can do so via the applicable links below:
[amazon_image id=”B00JTHY2YA” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Once More ‘Round The Sun [Explicit][/amazon_image]