Sound — 9
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.
Lyrics — 8
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.
Overall Impression — 9
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.