Once More 'Round The Sun review by Mastodon

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  • Released: Jun 24, 2014
  • Sound: 4
  • Lyrics: 2
  • Overall Impression: 4
  • Reviewer's score: 3.3 Poor
  • Users' score: 8.4 (154 votes)
Mastodon: Once More 'Round The Sun
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Sound — 4
I've been a long time Mastodon fan since the beginning and I'll gladly admit right now that my two favorite albums of theirs are "Leviathan" and "Crack the Skye." Needless to say, when I found out about "The Hunter," I was excited to hear a new take on their sound that they've come to be known for, but was a bit skeptical over the lack of concept for the album. Nevertheless, I gave it a try and I was thoroughly disappointed at the new, radio-friendly Mastodon. Some songs were okay, but the majority of it lacked the creativity that I came to love about the band. Here we find them returning for a follow up album, hoping to perfect some of the ideas that came along with "The Hunter"... Unfortunately, we get "The Hunter Part 2." While, structurally, some of the songs off this new album are a little more interesting at times, I had a very difficult time getting through most of it with how boring it was. Track for track, the album tends to twirl into a downward spiral where I was almost ready to turn it off until the last track with Scott Kelly finally came in (what I consider to be the only "wow... this is pretty cool" track on the entire 11 track album). Here is my track for track thoughts:

"Tread Lightly" starts the album off okay, but previous fans of Mastodon will hear some of the recycled riffs from "Oblivion" off of the "Crack the Skye" album... And this isn't the only time you will hear recycled riffs on this album...

"Motherload" sounds a lot like an '80s hair band song with the chorus practically ripped right from an Ozzy song. For fans of '80s Ozzy via "Blizzard of Oz," you might dig this track... I, aside from Black Sabbath, can't really stand Ozzy's solo stuff, so this track was the start of a put-off from this album. 

"High Road" was the first track anyone heard from this album and it is literally just "Black Tongue 2." The riffs are similar, the formula is similar, and even the way the lyrics are sung is similar. While it may be catchy at first, upon going back to listen to this song after listening to previous releases, you can see how recycled and annoying some of their songs are starting to get. 

"Once More 'Round the Sun" is the one song off this album that I could see being played on the radio and despite me saying that, it's one of the better tracks off the record. It has this real '70s Rush vibe to it that makes it one of the more interesting tracks, unfortunately being the shortest, clocking in before the three minute mark. 

"Chimes at Midnight" immediately starts with this really awesome, psychedelic introduction that first had me saying, "Oh thank god, a cool Mastodon track" and then more recycled riffs from "Crack the Skye" came in and had me drifting off into boredom. 

"Asleep in the Deep" takes some pointers from sludge metal/progressive buddies in Baroness, diving into guitar work similar to some of the work John Baizley did on the "Yellow/Green Record." This song actually fits right in with "Eula" and the rest of the songs on the "Yellow" CD with more upbeat and major chords, notably being one of the first times Mastodon used open G tuning. 

"Feat Your Eyes" reminds me a bit of Red Fang with some real up-tempo stoner rock, twisting around some more recycled "Crack the Skye" riffs. 

"Aunt Lisa" is... sigh... I'm gonna be honest, I don't know what the hell Mastodon was on when they wrote this song, but before the outro, I really wish they continued to do whatever they were doing for this track. Aunt Lisa starts off insane with some really intense prog rock stuff that can easily be compared to King Crimson. From there, the song takes all sorts of twists and turns in it's time signatures to the point where, if it weren't for the vocals, you'd swear you were listening to a crazed Mars Volta track. This track was SO GREAT... And then the ending happened with some cheerleaders (...Yeah... Cheerleaders... Mastodon song... Reread that if you need to) yelling "Hey! Ho! Let's Go!" -_- Needless to say, after that ending it was really, really difficult to get through the rest of the album. 

"Ember City" has more Ozzy chorus stuff and was a very boring track in general to me, but part of that could be from me still getting over being so distraught by the Mastodon cheerleaders... 

"Halloween" I feel like could have been a lot more impressive if they pushed the cool use of delays and textures further forward in the mix, but they became drowned out by all the rest of the boring, recycled guitar riffs. 

Finally... "Diamond in the Witch House" Thank god for this track (and by god, I mean Scott Kelly). Scott Kelly saves the day! The longest track on the album seems to be the only song they took the time to care about writing and I'm so depressed the rest of the album didn't sound like this. Easily the stand out track on the album with a really intense introduction and swooping guitar work with bizarre background sounds, especially at first appearance of Kelly's vocals, appearing almost under water in weird whispered, ambiance at first, then ripping into the song like a Neurosis track.

Long story short, the album is "The Hunter 2," but instead of recycling "Remission," they tried to recycle "Crack the Skye," in my opinion, failing miserably. That's not to say there isn't some cool stuff on the album. I love Mastodon. I WANTED to like this album... I just couldn't. For fans of "The Hunter," you might really enjoy this. For fans of their previous work, prepare for disappointment.

Lyrics — 2
"Hey! Ho! Let's Go!" Most of the lyrics I heard weren't anything impressive. Mastodon has never been one for making really, deep and meaningful lyrics to begin with, but at least when they were writing songs for concept albums, it organized them more and made it so when they sang about ogres, droves, and lion slicing, it wasn't so ridiculous. Upon switching to clean vocals, it worked so well on "Crack the Skye" and "Blood Mountain," but with an almost over-processed sound for the recent albums, it really just sounds like they are compensating or trying to edit Brent Hinds' drunken Ozzy vocals. That being said, I haven't heard anything about goat stealing on this album upon first few listens... But... Dem... Damn... Cheerleaders doh...

Overall Impression — 4
As I said, I did NOT like "The Hunter," give or take a few songs and I feel the same, if not worse about this one. There are certainly interesting things going on in this album, I wouldn't think that a band like Mastodon wouldn't do at least SOMETHING crazy on the album. But after all the talk about how intense this album was supposed to be and hearing about songs that "sounded like the imperial march" I was looking for some more epic music like Mastodon used to be. I really miss their albums where you felt like you NEEDED to listen to the album in its entirety because every song was so awesome and cohesive... Alas, that is not the case with recent endeavors. I understand the reason behind wanting to experiment and expand, but sometimes it's just not the right direction for a band. Maybe with the next release, they will draw out another crazy concept and we can enjoy the sounds of both their old music and the open-mindedness behind their recent two albums. One can only hope.

39 comments sorted by best / new / date

    coco-axeman
    I'm not going into "purist old school metal fan whatever zone"; catchy album is catchy and I've really enjoyed listening to it.
    toast2000
    Love all their albums and love this also. I don't want to listen to the same "sound/style" all the time, and I'm sure these guys don't want to play the same music all the time. If Mastodon want to progress this way, great, it's their music and it gives me more variety from a band I admire.
    stondagain
    Gets better each time. I distinctly remember listening to The Hunter all the way through twice, being hella bummed & saying "Well, that was disppointing." Not this one. (they still will have no shot at pulling off the vocals live though)
    stondagain
    Better than The Hunter. Only a couple true duds, which is rare these days. What can you say, they're getting older...you get bored just being brootal for brootality's sake. That being said, they're going to have one hell of a time trying to pull these vocals off live. Saw them last month & other than Brann the vocals were horrible (I know it's a common compliant with these guys, but the truth's the truth.) 7.5/10
    theexperience13
    I really fail to understand how people are saying "[b]The Hunter" was less Mastodonian and more radio-friendly, since a vast majority of this album just sounds like generic, unoriginal metal that's been on the radio for over the last decade. It severely lacks the creativity that's been abundant in their previous albums, and only a few of the songs are what I would call "great". These guys are my absolute favorite band, and this album is the ultimate disappointment to me.
    Auron12
    If you didn't like the hunter, you probably won't like this. Or any other Mastodon album they plan to release in the future. They sound different now, so get the **** over it. Leviathan was musical tits, but this album is as well, just for slightly different reasons. If you can't appreciate that, get ****ed with a wrench.
    CollinsKChris
    The hate is unreal for this album. It's a really great album. All the members are super talented. It's a great route for Mastodon to pursue this sound. It's a lot better than the Hunter. I liked both but this album seems to be the best for me since Crack The Skye Top tracks: 1. Tread Lightly 2. Ember City 3. Halloween
    Iommianity
    The 'hate' isn't really unreal; it's a major release by a major band with the expectations that go with it. The more people that are going to listen to something, the more varied amount of opinions you're going to get. People are perfectly capable of blindly loving Mastodon just as much for that very reason.
    Kelicon
    Personally, so far I love this album. That being said, I can definitely see where some fans can feel otherwise. I also definitely do not see how any of these are very 'radio' worthy, outside of Sirius/Online Streaming. Having worked at a radiostation briefly, none of these sounded like something that would be played on the radio, but I also haven't listened to FM in probably close to 10 years. Currently, the only song that even relatively bothers me would have to be 'Aunt Lisa.' The chanting girls just makes me think of the likes of Marlyn Manson, not Mastodon... Yet another great addition to the uniqueness that is the Mastodon discography.
    mattalextritt
    The second review is just a load of rubbish. I fail to hear them ripping off their own riffs in this album. AND THEY'RE NOT CHEERLEADERS YOU PILLOCK.
    Iommianity
    I don't get why people go on about Mastodon writing concept albums. No matter what ham fisted, stoner induced plot they offered up before an album's release, I guarantee you those albums would sound the same regardless of what they tried to conceptually tie it to. Leviathan or Crack the Skye aren't great albums because of their concepts, they're great albums because of the songs, and any time they've tried to explain their concepts, it always sounds thought up after the fact. Likewise, my problems with The Hunter and this album have absolutely nothing to do with them not being concept albums. They could all been thematically tied together or telling a story or whatever, and I wouldn't feel anymore of a connection than I already do.
    mada1990
    The concept albums, I think, just make accepting their poorly written lyrics a little easier. I've always loved Mastodon's music, but they were never the best lyricists. It's just easier to accept the cheesiness-factor of "lion slicing" and battling ogres when there is a concept as opposed to talking about really ridiculous stuff that no one cares about, like stealing peoples' goats.
    Iommianity
    That makes sense. It just always felt like their lyrics and concepts were kind of shallow for what people make them out to be. Which is fine, because I don't listen to Mastodon, or the vast, vast majority of music for the lyrics or concept.
    sweathog14
    Just bland. Brent sings most of everything, where he used to kind of be the "color guy"...chiming in on the bridges and weird backing vocals. Most of the songs are missing the "balls" of Troy. I dunno...just bland.
    artificialcre
    I don't understand how people can hate on this album. It's so awesome. I thought nothing would be as good as Crack the Skye was, but this album is right there with it.
    Tibouk
    An amazingly well written album overall. As much as I love other Mastodon records like Leviathan or Blood Mountain, Once More 'Round the Sun may be different but I fell in love with it right away. Mastodon seems to have matured in "catchy" songwriting and they still have this heavy ass feeling to it. Anyways that's the way it feels to me.
    burkeycl
    Tread Lightly, kicks the album off hard, and they finish strong with Diamond in the Witchhouse featuring Scott Kelly. The drop A riff in "High Road" takes you back to the 70's with a modern spin on old metal. The breakdown/ solo part in "High road" is extremely well layered and well written. "Chimes at Midnight" starts with an erie guitar tone, then blasts in heavy thrash mode. I wasn't too thrilled about the cheerleader part in Aunt Lisa, but Mastodon has had an experimental track on the last 3 albums (The Czar, The Creature, and not Aunt Lisa). Ember city is monumental, delivering one of the best guitar solos on the cd and intense drum beats on the Cd. The first album review is pretty spot on. The second review is trash. When is "Ozzy Sounding lyrics?" a complaint in metal music? Also, Brent hinds is not the one that sounds like Ozzy, its the drummer Brann Dailer. Lyrically this is their most diverse album. Troy Sanders, Brent Hinds, Brann Dailer, and they even feat a song with Scott Kelly again. The reviewer above wrote that all the riffs were recycled. I don't know what he is talking about. I have learned many Mastodon songs off the last 3 albums and they aren't the same riffs…… so……. Mastodon pushes boundary's with everything they do. Concept albums, Acoustic Instrument Additions and other well layered riffs, Crazy time signature changes, and this album focuses expanding vocally. I think that anyone that has a problem with this album is upset because every track doesn't have Brent Hinds growling and screaming. Bands evolve, get over it. One More Round The Sun has Troy Sanders and Brent Hinds Growling, just not on the whole album. Its a great album, def check it out.
    jackskarma
    mada1990, i agree with with you. i listen Mastodon since their "very" first period (Remission and their previous stuff)... The Hunter was a "weird" surprise but with a song like "Deathbound" i was like "maybe the next will be deeper and kickass"... And NO ! I'm thinking, again, that it sounds like a "best of" of their riffs... Ok, the making of is funny but the result is like a bad joke
    mada1990
    It's true. I feel as though a lot of fans of Mastodon will become biased and enjoy this album, but after a few weeks of going back through their discography, they'll realize how much personality it lacks in comparison to their previous work. If any other band came out with this album, I wouldn't like it at all. The problem is that because it's Mastodon, every part of me WANTS to like it. I really truly WANT to enjoy this album...but I can't do it. The lyrics are poorly written (most sound like they were written while Brent Hinds was drunk), the riffs (while cool at times), are VERY recycled and it's far too radio-friendly than I anticipated. Much like someone said in previous posts, metal just doesn't belong on the radio. I just don't like the idea of having Mastodon become a band played on the same station as Nickleback, and unfortunately, that's the last time I heard cheerleaders in a "metal" song.
    jackskarma
    i'm surprised cos people really love this LP (and critics too)... They call it "Maturity" I don't think so... Brent Hinds's voice sounds too "drunk" on Once More Round The Sun (i know that he's not a good singer but this track is so...) I hate the fact that i can't enjoy this LP (like you) Every Mastodon needs a lot of listenings but the first time i was like "WTF ?" and after the last track "Is it a cover band ?" The sound needs more bass and more MASTODON ! Cheerleaders = Radio
    mada1990
    Of course critics love this LP. These are the same critics that rate pop music and this album is far more mainstream-pop appeal than previous endeavors, possibly more so than The Hunter. I think it's hilarious that people associate "metal" and various forms of it with "teen angst" or whatever and that maturity is succumbing to radio-friendly garbage. While I'm not saying that Mastodon's intention is to make radio-friendly music, the obvious lack of caring with their music shows this and the behavior of some of the musicians (Brent Hinds drunk all the time and Troy Sanders joining a super group for the sole purpose of being in a super group). Most of the vocals on this album remind me of Ozzy and even the guitars, particularly High Road, sound like ripped off Black Sabbath riffs. So to comment on your "cover band" question, yes...Mastodon have officially become Mastodon covering Mastodon and Black Sabbath. I get a kick out of all the people saying that the band is probably "sick of playing the same style of music" but there is nothing different about the style of music they are playing since they are copying themselves and making more boring crap.
    mada1990
    "I thought the cheerleaders were pretty cool and different take on things..." First cheerleaders, next album they are gonna have a song with dubstep sounds in it and people are gonna say, "Well...it's Mastodon, so it's cool..."
    Inglig909
    I'm fairly disapointed with this album to be honest. I love the prog side of it but I found the album relatively boring
    mada1990
    Legit statement. The King Crimson type stuff is pretty rad the few times it's apparent on this album, but the rest is just so...damn...boring...
    uprawrock
    The problem with this album is laziness and production. The music, riffs, grooves, etc, are all pretty interesting. The production is like listening to a band from outside a venue. I CAN'T STAND IT. I... USED to love Mastodon. But the number one problem I have with Once More 'Round the Sun is the lazy vocals. I'm almost positive none of the guys can really sing.
    stondagain
    If you've ever seen them live, then you'd KNOW none of the guys can really sing.. \m/ (><) \m/
    jackskarma
    i saw them two times and it was like "Is is real ? Why their voices sound fake ?"
    JPMetalHead07
    I really like this album. They never cease to impress me, every time they put out a new album, it is different than the previous one. Great riffs, insane drums and really good song structure. For me, Mastodon is one of the best American metal bands.