Mastodon, The Hunter

Kevin O'Donnell

By Kevin O'Donnell

on 09.27.11 in Reviews

The Hunter


Since forming in 1999, Mastodon have made some of the most challenging and exciting mainstream metal albums, fusing classically-informed riffs with heavy-ass pummeling and twisted storylines loosely inspired by Moby Dick and fantasy fiction. The Atlanta, Georgia, quartet are the undisputed kings of the genre, able to appeal to a broader audience than devil-horn-throwing biker bros. But with their latest record, they’re comfortable to rest on their laurels — and it suits them.

Comfortably resting on their laurels

Unlike breakthrough albums Leviathan or Blood Mountain, The Hunter doesn’t have any overarching storyline or concept — a welcome relief — and Mastodon dial back the prog-rock tendencies to deliver a fairly straightforward hard rock record. Credit goes to producer Mike Elizondo — who also happens to be an A&R exec at the band’s label, so it makes sense that he’d try and clean up their sound in the interest of SoundScan numbers. To wit: The hot, skull-crushing “Curl of the Burl” might be the group’s most straightforward single ever.

But Mastodon aren’t major-label droids — they actually sound like they’re having a genuine blast and frontman Brent Hinds has said in interviews that he hasn’t been this excited about a Mastodon record in years. The major-key anthem “Blasteroid,” for instance, is an uplifting, hard-charging blast — even if, in it, Hinds threatens to “rearrange your face for you.”