Released: Sep 26, 2011
Genre: Progressive Metal, Sludge Metal
Label: Reprise/Roadrunner/Warner Bros.
Number Of Tracks: 13
The boys in Mastodon are back, and as usual they have changed up their sound. It's still 100% Mastodon but just trying something new.
Pagan_Poetry, on september 30, 2011 11 of 12 people found this review helpful
Sound: The boys in Mastodon are back, and as usual they have changed up their sound. However, this time around they have changed it quite a lot. This is the first time that they do not have a concept or story on the album. Is it safe to have a band that tells stories so well have so much freedom? "The Hunter," an album title that could represent their search for their deepest influences, ends up straying far away from their usual sound for the most part, but this really isn't a bad thing. The fans of their heavier and out of control music will have a few songs that pack the usual punch-to-the-stomach ("Blasteroid" is a song that could have even ended up on their first album "Remission"). For the most part, the songs seem to be a lot more melodic and, dare I say, calmer. Most of the album is cleanly sung (including "Creature Lives", a song Brann Dailor has all to himself vocally).
This album musically is definitely influenced by seventies rock and progressive along with seventies heavy metal (still sticking to a recognizably, unmistakably Mastodon sound). The songs now are a lot shorter and to the point, so even the softest songs like "The Hunter" and "The Sparrow", rather than building to an enormous climax like their past material, stick to being the soft songs on the album. On paper this sounds like a huge let down, but there is one thing Mastodon have not forgotten how to do and that is how to make a solid album. Everything comes together in the end, and while the stray ideas and odd musical choices really stand out on the first listen (perhaps too much), a few listens will wrap everything up. This is probably their riskiest album yet, but they still know how to write good music. Even with a knew logo and a new album artist, it seems like this album is trying so hard to part away from their other albums, but don't worry, it will fit in just nicely with the rest (it will just be standing its own ground). // 9
Lyrics: After everyone heard "Curl Of The Burl" and song names like "Blasteroids", "Bedazzled Fingernails", and "Octopus Has No Friends", it's safe to say that this album was going to be casual. Or is it? Really, the only song that ends up having humorous lyrics is "Curl", a song that darkly describes the murder of a man who killed the narrator's... Well... Goat. But even then, that's the only silly part of the song, as the rest turns into a depressing self reflection. What's nice is that instead of writing a large story for the entire album, each song feels like they have their own story. For instance, "Dry Bone Valley" paints the picture of the narrator running away from someone or something. A song named "Bedazzled Fingernails" sounds stupid, but once the song is listened to, we are pushed against the wall with moments of vulnerability and the will for courage like "Lay me down/Stand my ground". Really, in conclusion, those of you who were scared of the sillier song names don't be afraid.
Now those of you worried about the vocals, well I won't beat around the bush, the majority of them are cleanly sung. Whether that is good news or bad is up to you. To me this is good. The departure from mostly growls has been happening since "Crack The Skye". I don't think it is a permanent change, but rather the band knows what each album calls for. The singers, no matter who they are, never try to disguise themselves as top tier vocalists (they are still great vocalists nonetheless), but instead they sing with the emotions, passions and sincerity required for their numerous musical journeys on the album. Expect the clean vocals on "Crack The Skye", and expect Mastodon to know what they are doing. // 9
Overall Impression: This was an interesting release in the metal community because it knows how to make a departure from the norm just right. It doesn't become mainstream rock and it isn't a lazy effort that pretends to have changed. It's still 100% Mastodon but just trying something new. Even with bad albums, I think any band that tries something new is worth checking out, and The Hunter is one that ends up being rewarding. I won't lie, it will probably seem a bit out of place at first, but, for me anyways, it grew into a complete whole album once I got used to the new direction. It's an album put together not by theatrics this time around, but rather one that's put together through sound and mixing various tempos and themes.
Their heavy songs are the usual forces to be reckoned with, their feel-good songs give us a new side to Mastodon that we can get used to, and their softer songs wrap everything up by showing that, yes, Mastodon can still write beautiful music (even if the songs are significantly shorter). You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned the music talent wise, but do I have to? Mastodon are always on top of their game when it comes to talent and "The Hunter" is no different. This is an album definitely worth checking out, but it really has to be given a chance. Much like the bizarre creature on the album art, you will find many sides and perspectives on this album. // 9
atomic667, on september 30, 2011 3 of 19 people found this review helpful
Sound: Being a long time fan of Mastodon, loving every piece of music the Mastodonians have ever put out, I have to say, "The Hunter" was a big suprise. A KICK A-S SUPRISE! I popped this in my computer and clicked track one, "Black Tongue". Yea it was released early, but still, I was completely cream jeaned. As the album progressed, I heard a lot more of Brann Dailor's singing in songs like "Dry Bone Valley" and "Creature Lives". Apparently Dailor composed and sang the entire song "Creature Lives". He should do that more often. This is my favorite song off of an album with many favorite songs. Also the guitar work is melodical and technical in some parts, and just plain heavy in other parts, and that's just plain Mastodon sound right there. // 10
Lyrics: On the band site, they would post some lyrics like 3 months early, and I was really puzzled. I didn't understand them at all, but now that they have some instruments backing them up, its all coming together like something green in something along the lines of a "zig-zag". If you catch my drift. Again, the album has a song that was written by Dailor, and sang by Him too, and its truly a musical masterpiece. // 10
Overall Impression: This album is going in my mental catalogue, same with my CD collection, in the section titled "Bada-sery of Bada-sness-ness", Right beside all the other Mastodon. I love the progressive direction they're going with their music. I can't believe they did it, but they topped "Crack The Skye". // 10
unregistered, on september 30, 2011 2 of 11 people found this review helpful
Sound: 01. "Black Tongue" - This was the first song released that would be on the hunter later on. It rocks right off the bat. The doomy sounding guitar and fast pace drums make this a straight up metal song that screams classic Mastodon. It features some of Troy Sanders best vocal work. He really has to push himself to hit those notes.
02. "Curl Of The Burl" - A lot of people didn't like this tune when it came out. I was hesitant at first listen. It sounded like a rock song to me. Something mastodon has explored previously. But not in this style. Although it is about crazed meth head lumberjacks so you got to love it.
03. "Blasteroid" - The song opens up with a very country western/metal lick that Brent probably made. It then kicks into surprisingly poppy melodies that lead into an extremely metal chorus with, which seems like proper "screaming".
04. "Stargasm" - This song is very spacey (pun intended). The title fits perfectly as distant layered guitars and strong drums carry the song until the verse blows up with Troy and Brent's vocal magic.
05. "The Octopus Has No Friends" - This songs title gave me such high hopes for it and Brann said the riff sounded like an octopus. I don't know were he got that from, but to me this song isn't very good. It drones on with boring melodies and doesn't really fit the mastodon structure. But the one part that caught me was the chorus riff and Troy's line "I'm on my way back home". THAT part fits the title.
06. "All The Heavy Lifting" - I guess Mastodon DID need that generic metal song. This tune has heavy guitars big drums and cheesy lyrics. I don't know how else to describe it. It's not god at all!
07. "The Hunter" - This song is definitely mellow but very emotional at the same time. Very spacey and "Crack The Skye" reminiscent.
08. "Dry Bone Valley" - Best song on the album. Hands down. It reminds me of Alice In Chains with Brann on lead vocals. The riffing is amazing. The vocal melodies give me chills. Drums and bass are so in sync. Kicka-s guitar solo as well!
09. "Thickening" - The way the intro kind of just IS the verse makes me think this song is megalodon all over again. None the less it's great. But the lyrics could be better.
10. "Creature Lives" - I don't understand this song. I don't understand why it exists. I don't understand why it sounds like a church quire. I don't understand why mastodon would do this. WHY. This is not Nine Inch Nails!
11. "Spectrelight" - METAL.
12. "Bedazzled Fingernails" - Very cool song. Coolest chorus with Troy's awesome melodies.
13. "The Sparrow" - A tipped hat to Brent's deceased relative. It really is the "Joseph Merrick" of "The Hunter" only with more emotion... And lyrics. // 8
Lyrics: Like any Mastodon album the lyrics will be about creatures, monsters, elements, clowns, Meth heads. When you're awaiting a Mastodon album. You can't pinpoint what the lyrics will be about. They could write about ice cream. They could write about dragons. This albums lyrics I think may have been more straight forward due to the fact that it's not a concept album. Never the less the lyrics don't cease to amaze.
"I killed a man cause' he killed my goat". "I burned out my eyes, I cut off my tongue". "And then we switch into overdrive but you're not here". "I'm on my way back home". "Rain come down and take me with your flood". "I see the flesh before my eyes". // 9
Overall Impression: Overall I think people who doubted this album will be Surprised. Some of the songs caught me off my guard. But the classic mastodon was still there. And it rocked! I think "Dry Bone Valley" and "Bedazzled Fingernails" are some of Mastodon's best work. I think working with a hip hop producer may have hindered their vocal freedom. I notice on "Bedazzled Fingernails" the chorus sounds almost auto-tuned... Yikes. // 8
Battman1993, on october 05, 2011 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: I'll be the first to admit, I've never been more than a casual fan of Mastodon. Most of their albums have had a concept, which for the most part is something I don't care for. However, I've liked certain songs from Mastodon, and considering everyone on the planet worships them, I always figured that they were an amazing band, but not for me. So, when news came that Mastodon was recording a new album, and that it had no true concept, I was kinda excited. When I heard the first two preview tunes, "Black Tongue" and "Curl Of The Burl" (which are ironically the first two songs on this album), I was even more excited. When Mastodon finally announced a release date for their new album "The Hunter", I was waiting to buy it. Yes, two songs sold me on an album from a band I had never really listened to in-depth before. And by God, I'm glad those two songs essentially bought "The Hunter" for me. Since I've gushed so much about those aforementioned tracks, let's review those two first! "Black Tongue" is a song that drummer Brann Dailor has described as sounding like "a super-heavy Led Zeppelin or something." And BOY is that description accurate! It's a great epic-sounding opener. Curl Of The Burl on the other hand, sounds VERY Queens Of The Stone Age-ish. It's the most radio-friendly track Mastodon has ever laid down, but the stoner-rock crunch and the lyrics (something about meth crazed lumberjacks murdering a man who killed their... goat) makes it an unlikely candidate for Mastodon's mainstream radio breakthrough. Moving on, other highlights on "The Hunter" include EVERY song basically besides the Nine Inch Nails-styled abomination "Creature Lives" (which is sad b/c Brann wrote and sung all of it), but my personal favorite is the title track. It's the soft song on "The Hunter" that "Crack The Skye"'s title track served as, and it is gorgeous. The title track is on my list of best songs of the year, and features an EPIC guitar solo. Overall, "The Hunter" is an album that feels metal without necessarily being metal. Mastodon has brought in elements of prog, stoner-rock/metal, and classic rock to create an album that while not geared for metalheads (as the band members themselves said), will please most Mastodon fans while making a whole lotta new ones, including me. // 9
Lyrics: If Mastodon isn't writing a storyline for an album, what are they writing about? Well as it turns out, there's a lot of crazy sh-t in the heads of Troy Sanders, Brann Dailor, Brent Hinds, and Bill. Troy and Brent are the main singers, but Brann sings all of the aforementioned "Creature Lives" and takes lead vocals on the Alice In Chains-ish "Dry Bone Valley". All three singers have good voices. Anyways on to my original point. The only songs that I can interpret the lyrics of are "Curl Of The Burl" (already mentioned, something about meth crazed lumberjacks murdering a man who killed their goat), "Blasteroid" (I believe it's a drinking song), "The Hunter" (about Brent's brother, who died while out hunting, hence the title), "Dry Bone Valley" (escaping from your past), "Thickening" (sex in space), and The Sparrow, whose's only lyrics are the repeated mantra "Pursue happiness with dilligence", which is the mantra of a woman that Mastodon knew who also died during the recording of "The Hunter". As for the songs I haven't mentioned, I'm sure there is some deep meaning to the lyrics, I just haven't figured it out yet. The lyrics are sung in mostly clean tones, which enriches the experience. // 8
Overall Impression: I have never given a 10 on any of my reviews, but "The Hunter" is essentially a 9.5 in my book. It is battling with Machine Head's new album "Unto The Locust" for the title of Album of The Year in 2011 on my list (check in for that in late December, as I will post a list in my blog on UG). The most impressive songs are "Black Tongue", "Dry Bone Valley", "The Hunter", and "Bedazzled Fingernails". I love everything and hate nothing. If this album was stolen, I'd track down the genius that stole it and shake their hand for having such good musical tastes. If it were lost, I'd become "The Hunter" and track down a new copy. This isn't some fanboy shit folks, this review comes from an honestly impressed person. I didn't much care for Mastodon until I snagged "The Hunter" at Best Buy last week, and now I can't stop listening to it. It only compares to Mastodon themselves, because they're the only band that could've created this beauty. // 9
Mosh101, on october 07, 2011 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: It's been seven years since Mastodon's influential album "Leviathan" created a daring impact on what was becoming a seemingly stale music scene. Since then the quartet have stretched their imagination and creativity to mouth watering heights, constantly improving their collective efforts with each album.
"The Hunter" is the natural predecessor of Mastodon's continual evolution, whereas, "Crack The Skye" revealed the extent of their theatrical and technical prowess the latest release has something for everyone.
Mastodon created this album from spontaneity; and this shows in the presentation of the album itself. The songs are generally shorter and; whilst still technically brilliant; have the capability of reverting back to a net of simplicity which was not often found in "Crack The Skye". There is even a tendency to delve in to aspects of music not used before in their previous works. Songs like "The Creature Lives" and "All The Heavy Lifting" have the distinct arena sized impression with the latter having a huge almost pop like chorus. This is a testament to the development within the vocal harmonies from the previous album. Even more impressive is the improvement from Brann Dailor his vocal range and melody seems much more assured when measured up against the strength of Troy Sanders and the grit of Brent Hinds.
Musically it has always been clear that Mastodon have a purpose when creating music, so it is odd to approach this LP without the view of listening to it as a concept album.
The musical spectrum lacks any real direction yet somehow manages to find itself within the parameters of Mastodon's strengths, and even advancing towards public accessibility with songs such as "Curl Of The Burl". It's easy to remember however that change is not always an action received with such reverence by music enthusiasts, in this respect fans will wonder what is happening to the band they knew. The Answer? Simple. Evolution.
However that doesn't mean this album is a drastic change, there are some songs which embody their typical sound such as the blistering pace of "Spectrelight". The heavy guitar work is matched only by Brann's furious drumming and Sander's gravel voice which carves a path straight through the music. Likewise, "The Thickening" is reminiscent of Mastodon at their finest, accentuated by a rhythmically enforced bass, which bares the brunt for the guitar to play the country, metal twang's with more freedom and success.
As an over sight, the instrumental work is almost hypnotizing in the way it loops in and out of psychedelic transitions, off beat movements and crushing riffs. The introduction of frequent solo's is a welcome exchange from overbearing melodic repetition and emphasizes the aesthetics of the music such as the title track "The Hunter". The interesting thought about this album, is that it is actually longer (Albeit by 2 minutes) than "Crack The Skye", yet with it's musical variation it carries you along a continuous ride with surprises around every corner. // 9
Lyrics: The permutation within Mastodon's album does not merely stop at the instrumental side. They are generally methodical within their approach to the lyrical content as there is usually a continuous story to be told throughout the LP.
Whilst their lyrical content alone will never win them an award, you cannot overlook such lyrics as "All the love I've shown/ Given to the ones I've known/ All the love I make/ Is equal to the love I take". This phrase alone highlights the change within the lyrical content depicting the amplitude of love.
This transformation from beasts and journeys to emotional expression has somewhat taken the bite out of their stature, but then one also wonders whether this was a long overdue process, especially when emphasizing the labor of touring or death of a relative. This form of lyrical content allows the listener to delve in to the thoughts of the band and hand pick an emotion from which to relate with. Of course this direction does not continue entirely. "Blasteroid" for instance was intentionally created to represent a teenagers mentality towards musical and lyrical content. And who could argue with lyrics such as: "I wanna drink some f--king blood / I wanna break some f--king glass..." // 7
Overall Impression: Overall the album is another natural step of progression. There is a depth of musical understanding on show that very few bands could match but more importantly there is an impression of enjoyment offered from the spontaneity of the album itself. There is a feeling that the songs on this LP were designed with the intention to capture and portray a live sound.
In comparison to other Mastodon albums, it is not hard to see that there is a willingness to sing from a broad sheet of inspirations other than metal. It is also a brilliant album from a vocal and lyrical view point, Dailor and Sanders in particular seem to have taken a step further in their personal advancement whilst Brent seems to have taken more of a back seat roll this time around.
There is of course a disappointing flaw within all of my praise, and after many listens it becomes more and more apparent that something is missing. It has everything from perfect melodies within "Dry Bone Valley" to the sludge and fury of "Black Tongue" and even a guest vocalist in Scott Kelly of Neurosis. The missing component is of course forgetting the likes of "Blood Mountain" and "Crack The Skye", for each album is able to live within it's own world of existence. There are few over layered, technically complicated pantomime musicals, and for some that is almost sacrilege. To truly understand and comprehend the art of "The Hunter" you must first acknowledge that it will sound (for the most part) nothing like previous albums. // 8
colm c, on october 20, 2011 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: "The Hunter" is the sixth studio album by the Seattle based metal band Mastodon and like the gigantic creature the band are named after, this album is huge too. "The Hunter" marks a return to form for the band from 2009s experimental album "Crack The Skye", which focused more on 70s style progressive rock than the harder sludgy metal that characterized the bands sound for over a decade, which was hit and miss for some fans. That said however you can hear moments of "Crack The Skye" shine through on "The Hunter" and these moments work well played off the harder moments. The album is a lot more focused than they're previously self described spastic sounding songs, song structure and style stick to themes but never become formulaic which keeps up the interest. You will not be bored by this album. // 8
Lyrics: Mastodon are a band constantly evolving and to compare this to previous albums would be pointless as "The Hunter" is a combination of many different things. The old humor shines through with strange song titles like "The Octopus Has No Friends" and some questionably weird vocal deliveries, this will make you smile more than cringe though. Evolution breeds improvement and this album shows that, the singing here is way more expressive and emotive than before and the general delivery of the songs and performances are amazing as usual but that said there are some down points, not every song is that good, after a strong opener in "Black Tongue" and "Curl Of The Burl" it lulls for about three songs, they're decent just not great. // 7
Overall Impression: It picks up again through with "All The Heavy Lifting" and continues strong till the closer "The Sparrow".
All in all the album is quite strong and a welcome return to the heavier side of life for the band, massive improvement on the slightly uninteresting "Crack The Skye" but still leaves something to be desired from the "Leviathan" or "Blood Mountain" eras. // 8
Hanzo15, on october 27, 2011 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Yet again, when we think Mastodon have settled on a continuous sound, they completely turn all aspects of their music on it's head. And my God they have once again blown my mind!
- The amazing production on all vocals. In parts almost reminds me of Ozzy Osbourne crossed with Roger Waters, Mike Elizondo has done a fabulous job on getting this to sound 70's progressive rock with that all important Mastodon rocket sauce!
- "The Sparrow". I can't commend this song enough, after hearing the chaos about running to the forest and killing goats, this song was the perfect cool down.
- Not being afraid of the unknown. Mastodon, haven't been afraid with their melodies, for example "Creature Lives" sounds like a nursery rhyme, but it works! The catchy "Ohs" can be imagined in a huge stadium, it is definitely the anthem of the album.
- Tracks too short. There is only one track on the whole album which is above 5 minutes long which "coincidentally" is "The Sparrow" (my personal choice for best song on the album), I just feel that if some of the songs were longer the album would be even better
- Takes a while to get deep into it. Personally, I wasn't sold by this album until I'd listened to it 4-5 times. So if you're inpatient then this isn't the album for you.
PIECE BY PIECE ANALYSIS
At first listen to the 2 preview tracks, "Black Tongue" and "Curl Of The Burl", I was a bit sceptical and didn't get the same buzz from them as I did from listening to "Colony Of Birchmen" or "March Of The Fire Ants" for the first time, however this was also the case when I listened to "Crack The Skye" for the first time. So I remained hopeful that these songs would grow on me.
At first listen of the album as a whole, I could hear a lot of filler tracks ("Blasteroid", "Octopus Has No Friends", "Thickening", "Creature Lives", "Bedazzled Fingernails") however the opening 2 tracks ("Black Tongue" and "Curl Of The Burl") had now grown on me.
After listening to the album continuously for a few days my personal favourites (excluding the opening 2 tracks) were:
"Dry Bone Valley", because of it's great staccato vocal melody throughout the verses sung by Brann Dailor.
"Stargasm", for the fantastic "shift into overdrive" lyric to introduce the chorus, it was one of those "hairs on the back of your neck" moments for me.
"The Sparrow", probably the only song on the album which got to me on first listen, the guitar melody and the looping vocals really got me inside the music, shame it was the ending track. But what a track to end on!
Gradually as I listened more and more the pieces began to fall into place and revealed this album was no filler, true masterpiece and is up their with all their other albums! // 9
Lyrics: There has never been anything normal about Mastodon's lyrics, we're always inclined to expect forests, trolls, giants, space, Russians tzars in their lyrics. So I wasn't at all surprised with the lyrics of the album, not that they aren't brilliant.
Lyrics such as "I killed a man because he killed my goat" ("Curl Of The Burl"), did however somewhat shock me, that they were so daring. Same with "Creature Lives", with it's "nursery rhyme" melodic (however catchy) themes.
The lyrics and music work in perfect harmony, the more aggressive the music, the more aggressive the vocals and lyrics. "The Hunter" possesses some great lyrics sung by Brent Hinds. "All the love I've shown, Given to the ones I've known" sung over a great clean guitar riff, in comparison to that of "Spectrelight" where Troy Sanders delivers some mean, rough vocals over possibly the heaviest guitar riffs on the whole album. The album shows much diversity in lyrics and gives the album a happy balance.
Brann, Brent and Troy all possess different vocal styles and it is instantly obvious which one of them it is who is singing song to song, verse to chorus etc. Credit to them for finding a great equilibrium between them, since the emergence of Brann singing from "Crack The Skye". // 9
Overall Impression: Definitely the album of 2011!... So far.
"Crack The Skye" fused with "Blood Mountain" with a hint rocket fuelled 70's progressive rock.
"Stargasm", "Dry Bone Valley" and "The Sparrow".
If you love Mastodon, Opeth, Pink Floyd or QOTSA you will definitely enjoy listening to this album. It would have all the credentials to become a Progressive classic... IF ONLY THE SONGS WERE LONGER! That is my only flaw on this fantastic work of art. // 9