Once More 'Round The Sun review by Mastodon

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  • Released: Jun 24, 2014
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.4 (151 votes)
Mastodon: Once More 'Round The Sun
6

Sound — 9
Mastodon formed in 2000 when the members met at a High On Fire show in Atlanta, Georgia. Except for losing their original vocalist after only a few months the band has had a consistent lineup since then. Their sound over the years which initially included predominantly very harsh vocals has slowly changed to include mostly clean vocals. Musically, the band has created their own niche by mixing stylistic elements belonging to several different genres though they most notably take aspects of hard rock, progressive rock, and New Wave of American Heavy Metal. "Once More 'Round the Sun" is their sixth studio release and contains a total of 11 tracks and clocks in at 54 minutes. It is being released on Reprise Records. "High Road" was released as the lead single in mid-April of 2014 and the second single, "Chimes at Midnight," was released in early June 2014. 

The album opens with the track "Tread Lightly," which has a clean guitar in the intro but quickly transitions into a much heavier sound. "The Motherload" uses a pretty cool vocal effect, it seems to be some type of delay, which really helps give the song an almost psychedelic vibe. The lead single, "High Road," most of us have heard and it is a great example of what to expect from the album - crushing metal rhythm, engaging melody, otherworldly vocals and all that type of awesome stuff. Next is the title track, "Once More 'Round the Sun", which does a great job using a relatively simple riff and a great melody to create an infectious groove that runs through the entire track. The second single, "Chimes at Midnight," is another song most of us have heard, which relies very heavily on a few repeating arpeggios and a haunting melody in the intro and outro, but then experiments with a fairly progressive song structure in the great space in-between. "Asleep in the Deep" definitely has a few twisty guitar parts, and is one of the most vocally interesting tracks, as well. "Feast Your Eyes" has a quick little riff that reappears throughout the track, as well as a heavier slower riff and harmonized vocals. Next up is "Aunt Lisa," which has guest vocals from the all-female band, The Coathangers, though their vocals aren't present until the outro of the song. "Ember City" has some cleaner and some dirtier vocals, which is possibly the closest I have heard them do anything to metalcore (but they still sound nothing like metalcore, relax), and has my favorite solo from the album on this one. "Halloween" opens up with a cool little melody and quickly opens up with some heaviness - much more in the realm of hard rock than any type of metal, really, but still a very worthwhile track. The album closes out with the track "Diamond in the Witch House," which opens up with some acoustic/clean guitar with a distorted melody flirting with atonality over it. A very classical style of metal rhythm guitar comes in, and the track has a lot going on vocally. There seems to be at least 3 separate vocalists included on the track, and of course, this is the track on the album that includes Scott Kelly from Neurosis. This album was absolutely a fun listening experience and I can't wait for the physical copy of the CD that I've pre-ordered to make it to me.

Lyrics — 8
Vocals on the album, as their previous albums, are shared between all 4 members of the band, but in addition this album does include some guest vocalists. Scott Kelly (of Neurosis) provides guest vocals on the track "Diamond in the Witch House," and he has provided guest vocals on several Mastodon releases. The Coathangers, an all-female indie/punk group from Atlanta, Georgia, provide guest vocals on the track "Aunt Lisa." Valient Himself, from the band Valient Thorr, provides guest vocals, but which song he provides vocals on isn't listed anywhere online that I could locate. As always, the vocals on the album definitely work well in the context of what the band is trying to do. There is sometimes a good deal of processing, but it is used as a creative device for the song instead of any kind of pitch correction - if there was any type of auto-tune on the album it was used in moderation and I didn't notice it. As a sample of the lyrics from the album, here are some lyrics from the track "High Road": "You let the wind take us down/ you let the storm come wipe us out/ I saw the fog snuff you out/ I saw the ocean come take you under/ I have my boot stuck in your mouth/ I have you screaming for your last breath, yeah/ I shoved them both deep inside/ you're waiting for the devour/ you take the high road down/ I take the ground below you/ you take the high road down/ I take the ground below." It fits in with their usually fantasy/horror themed lyrics, and I'm not complaining.

Overall Impression — 8
I've been a fan of Mastodon for a while now, and they're one of the few modern bands that I'm not sure could do any wrong in my eyes. This album doesn't test that theory, because they seem to do everything right on this one. There is definitely a balance between having truly heavy rhythm parts, and having progressive and psychedelic elements, fantasy-themed lyrics and guitar solos - if a band teeters too far in any one direction they can quickly start sounding goofy, cliché, or disingenuous - but Mastodon executed this album perfectly. Choosing my favorite tracks from this album wouldn't be easy, but I think I would have to say both of the singles, as well as "Asleep in the Deep," "Ember City," and "Diamond in the Witch House." This album would definitely go somewhere close to the top of my five favorite metal releases so far in 2014.

70 comments sorted by best / new / date

    shredder3386
    I personally loved this album. I found it blended elements from all their previous albums. I miss Mastodon writing concept albums, but I guess too much of a good thing can become stale after awhile.
    staceap
    interested to see what comes of this second album's worth of material they supposedly have.
    bifteksupernova
    Perfect balance of catchy rhythms and melodies with heavy, well written instrumentation that you would expect from Mastodon. Potential for commercial success but not a sell out, pop album; I thought it was great.
    Jimjambanx
    To me this is what The Hunter should have been. The Hunter seemed a little too radio friendly, but this really has a nice blend of heavy sludge, and clean catchy melodies.
    Mikethespud
    Really? I found this to be much more radio friendly than The Hunter, with the exception of Curl of the Burl
    MthrfknBrkdwN
    It's the other way round for me also. This sounds more "radio friendly" than the hunter to me but nevertheless, this album is awesommmmme.
    guitar/bass95
    The best album with Stam1nas SLK to come out this year so far. Mastodon never fails to stay fresh and still deliver perfect music.
    Spoony_Bard
    Words cannot explain my disappointment with the fact that Mastodon hasn't been doing full concept albums like Crack the Skye, however what I have heard of this newest album so far has been quite enjoyable. As long as the music stays good, Mastodon will still be the best American band in my eyes.
    bassthunder
    It sounds like they've shied away from concept albums in fear of them becoming too gimmicky.
    Abacus11
    Mastodon has been one of the best and most consistent American metal bands of the past decade plus. I honestly thought that The Hunter was a bit of a let down (still better than most heavy music but not as great as everything they recorded previous). The couple of songs I've heard from this record sound very promising... I can't wait to hear this album!
    fm20000
    Metal album of they year without a doubt
    SGofawesome
    I really dig this album, but I think Behemoth's "The Satanist" and Septicflesh's "Titan" were better than this.
    bassthunder
    It's good, but there have been better so far. Nothing has topped Shogunate Macabre yet as far as I'm concerned.
    vppark2
    Nah...Every Time I Die has that right now, but this is still a great album. Id give it an 8/10. At The Gates will prob make AOTY.
    vppark2
    Or Animals As Leaders.
    Waren
    Dude, no one listens to AAL besides guitar players.
    GramasUnderwear
    Cant wait for the album tomorrow!!! Only listened to High Road, as well. And I f'ing LOVED The Hunter. How do you not love this....
    Mahoru
    Brilliant album, nothing less than what I expected from Mastodon. It sounds different from any of their previous albums, though I think most tracks would fit perfectly soundwise between Crack the Skye and The Hunter (not as dark and complex as the first, but not as straightforward and more varied than the second). Also, the production is worth a mention, the album as a whole sounds stellar, by far their best sounding album! It's not their best album, there are a couple tracks I'm still not fully sold to, but definitely they've done a remarkable work again wich contains some of their best work to date. In relation to the rest of their work, I'd put it below Crack the Skye, almost on par with Leviathan, but above Blood Mountain, The Hunter and Remission. A very solid 9/10.
    Lersch
    I honestly didn't like this very much. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great also. Hopefully it grows on me, it just wasn't very memorable the first listen through.
    KingKrisKhan
    I've been plenty harsh on this album so far, but man...Once More 'Round The Sun is a sick song.
    TheGroundZero
    I listened to the whole thing in one sitting. It definitely jammed, but I have to be honest that I felt like I was listening to one long song when it was over. That's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just kind of what I took away from it.
    CoolMcAwesome
    Yeah I found the vocal melodies in all the songs to be much too similar, and it had the effect you mentioned.
    arabmetallion
    I think I may be in the minority here but I think this is their weakest album so far and I have to say I was disappointed. If you enjoyed it then that's cool and this is purely my personal opinion but I will tell you why I think that is. With my first listen I did not enjoy it at all and was frankly quite bored throughout. 3-4 listens later and I began appreciating the album abit more BUT I still could not shake my feelings about the album in general. Firstly I felt most of the songs were simply... okay. Nothing particularly attention grabbing or amazing about the riffs or the instrumentation in general. This is the same band that wrote masterpieces such as The Czar and Hearts Alive so I do have fairly high expectations from them. That high level of instrumentation and genius was simply not there on the new album in my opinion. Allot of people say this album is a drastic improvement from The Hunter but is it really all that different or even better? I felt that almost every song on it was based around a catchy, almost poppy chorus (Motherload, High Road , Once More Round The Sun...etc) and most are about 5 minutes in length on average (only about a minute more than The Hunter). There's absolutley nothing wrong with shorter songs. The Hunter did have songs like Black Tongue, The Hunter, Dry Bone Valley and The Sparrow which weren't particularly long but packed a serious punch. I don't know if I can say the same about any of the songs on this album. I will say that it did flow better but the lacking content does not make up for it I think. Okay I'll end my little essay/review. 6.5/10
    CoolMcAwesome
    this guy pretty much sums up most of what I feel about this album. They pretty much dropped the ball on this one.
    bloodjunkie76
    I agree 100%. I've listened to it at least 15 times already and while there are moments here and there that are really good (I actually really like The Motherload chorus even though it is very poppy)I just don't find anything that really moves me. However, I think Brann's vocals are getting pretty good.
    peachesenregali
    Listened to every one of their albums including this one and I still don't understand the buzz around this band. They aren't exactly bad but they aren't exactly great either, nothing particularly interesting about them. Fairly tedious. Nice production though.
    Mikethespud
    Personally I thought the first 4 albums were great, The Hunter was decent and this was mediocre. The downward spiral which almost every band faces has begun.
    starlessband
    First time I heard it I wasn't blown away immediately. But I got really into it. Id honestly put it right under blood mountain and crack the skye.
    JSmith38
    Getting my first listen now that it leaked to youtube. Album of the year for me. Love these guys. They never disappoint. I have enjoyed every release to date. Crack the Skye will probably always be my favorite but damn this album is amazing.
    slash_015
    Really good Record! No second "Crack In The Skye", but much better than "The Hunter" (which i didn't/don't really like)
    MyUserName777
    I'm only 2 songs into the album but so far I'm loving it. I had never been able to really get into Mastodon before. Songs like Colony of Birchman just didn't appeal to me and the only song I really liked off Crack the Skye was Divinations. Where else should I look in their catalogue for something like this album?
    owen556
    I found High Road to be quite enjoyable, the riffs were on par with the simplicity of The Hunter and I found the solo pretty simple and fun to play as well. As for the album itself I'm giving it a few more play throughs. I'm sure its just a grower.
    CoolMcAwesome
    One of, if not THE, worst Mastodon album. Simply underachieved on this album. SO far I have lsitened to it three times start to finish. Each listen solidifies my opinion. I love this band, and that might be part of the reason I am so disappointed with this album. This album is simply way too radio rawk; it has the mastodon sound, but lacks the Mastodon balls. 5/10, 5.5/10 at best.
    voleurz
    why the ****s it matter if its too radio friendly. the album is awesome to rock out too. ****ing elitist metal fans piss me off.
    CoolMcAwesome
    not really an elitist, but in all honesty, metal doesn't really belong on the mainstream radio.
    Mikethespud
    I agree. There's maybe 3 stand out songs on it but the rest is pretty bland. The Hunter was much better. 5/10 from me.
    CoolMcAwesome
    have to agree. there are only a few songs that really stand out, and are what I would call "mastodon" quality. They have that great mastodon sound, are more gritty, and I could listen to them many times and still enjoy them. The rest of the album I can barely listen to.
    ironingman41
    Bland!???? please elaborate, cos i dont hear anything bland, id like to see any other metal band write a record this original, Funny isnt it how a lot of the ppl bitchin have no real reason why they dont like they just say its too radio friendly, its bland, why isn't there any 10 bar snare fills, boohoo. if thats the only mastodon you like then ur pretty narrow minded or just an elitist douche.
    peachesenregali
    Bland vocal melodies, bland riffs. 'if thats the only mastodon you like then ur pretty narrow minded or just an elitist douche.' Or maybe he finds the lack of that special something disturbing.
    ironingman41
    again, please elaborate.....what riffs? what vocal melodies? if people are gonna critique someones work they should at least have reasoning or justifications. Saying something is bland or sh*t literally means nothing. there's a reason people have down-voted him. Just out of interest, what would you consider a non-bland riff?
    CoolMcAwesome
    the riff in High Road is pretty sweet, and not bland. the riff at the end of Aunt Lisa is pretty solid and fun too. Then you get riffs and vocal melodies (and lyrics) like in Ember City, which are just soooo boring, or plain pop. halloween song has some good riffage as well.
    Mikethespud
    I'm very far from being closed minded or an elitist douche, considering I listen to a pretty wide range of genres and only a little bit of metal. I only like Mastodon when they're writing songs that don't sound half-assed to me, which many of the songs on this album did. I didn't find the record to be very original at all to be honest, it sounds like just another average metal album. They're not really introducing anything innovative or new on it that stands out to me, like they did on Crack the Skye or Leviathan, or even The Hunter. Do you want me to apologise for having a different taste from you? Because if you do, I'm pretty sure that makes you the elitist douche. As peachesenregali said, I 'found the lack of that special something disturbing.'
    WrathfulOne
    Yeah, sad to say I have to agree. This is the most disappointing album I have ever listened to. Just bland nothingness from start to finish. I actually like The Hunter, though seems like a lot of people don't, and I like when musicians try different things (for example, I love MJK's "side project" Puscifer). I just can't find anything that grabs me on this album and I just can't believe it's the same band that created Remission and Leviathan. I am a huge Mastodon fan and I listen to them every day (listening to Leviathan now actually), and they are my favorite songs to play on guitar, so this is ****in bleak man.
    ironingman41
    so the reason you hate this album is cos you love this band????? hmmm i dont get it, i love this band and i love everything they've ever written, you must not have liked hunter either cos i put this in a similar category.
    Mikethespud
    He said he was disappointed because he loves the band. Maybe you should actually read what people have to say before replying to them and making assumptions.
    ironingman41
    what assumptions have i made? he's literally chattin sh*t, "lacking balls of a mastodon record" this album is probably heavier in general than "the hunter" and is the perfect record to lead on from it, what was he expecting a leviathan remake???? thats why i dont get it, not because i didnt read his comment and made assumptions, but because every mastodon fan I know loves this record because its f**kin sick.
    Mikethespud
    You assumed he disliked The Hunter and hated the album when he didn't say either of those things. A 5/10 is still an average score, meaning it wasn't bad or good.
    CoolMcAwesome
    my expectations were high because I love the band, and expect more from them. Thus this album, not living up to my expectations, really disappointed me.
    Kueller917
    Not bad, I was pleasantly surprised after not being impressed with High Road (I still don't like it). To me doesn't come close to Leviathan or Blood Mountain but it'll warrant a few more listens from me.
    jackskarma
    Every mastodon's lp needed a lot of listening... so, i did the same but : it sounds like a "best of" of their riffs with a "commercial feeling" that i don't really like... I appreciate this band and it was fun to see them live a couple of times but this LP isn't a real surprise to me... Maybe this is their "weak LP"
    Waren
    I don't know how to feel about this album. I think it has been because I've changed my tastes in the last couple of years, but I didn't enjoy the Hunter that much and I'm having the same feelings with this album. Some parts do remind me of Crack the Skye and I think the first 5 tracks flow pretty well together, but after that, the remaining of the album kind of meshes together into a single monster song that I'm having a hard time to enjoy. Kudos to the guys for daring even further into singing territory (and I hope that influences a lot of the modern young bands that think that screaming is the way to make your music aggressive and further explore the world of melodies and harmonies). Best tracks IMO: The Motherload, Chimes at Midnight. 5,5/10
    CoolMcAwesome
    motherload and chimes, really? I found those to be among the worst on the album. Although I think Ember City might take the cake for single worst song on this album
    stondagain
    I haven't listened to anything except "High Road". CD comes out tomorrow; I'm going to buy it, pop it in the car, crank it up, drive up into the mountains, turn around when it's over & listen to it again on the way home. This is how I hear every new album for the first time. I ****ing hate leaked & streaming BS.