Mastodon – The Hunter (2011)

Mastodon’s newest album marks a massive change in sound for the band. They have consistently become more accessible to non-metalheads with each successive release, and The Hunter is no exception. It’s more hard rock than metal; think Queens of the Stone Age, except heavier. If that sounds like a bad thing, don’t worry; everything you love about Mastodon is here.

As is to be expected, the guitars are off the charts impressive. Every track impresses instrumentally, and some will leave you with your jaw on the floor. Seriously, they shred. If nothing else, listen to this album (or any of their albums) for the guitars alone. There is some serious guitar virtuosity in play here, and they blow other hard rock acts away in this regard. The album is just drenched in sick, heavy riffs, great hooks, impressive solos, and the sweet bridges that make Mastodon so damn listenable. The vocals are notably less metal-y at times, while at other times, such as on the hilarious “Blasteroid,” vocalist Brent Hinds turns in typical metal screams in a way that is somehow both intense and funny.

There isn’t as much progressive-styled soloing and there is way less extended instrumentals than previous Mastodon albums. While their previous album, Crack the Skye had a pair of tracks that reached past 10 minutes, The Hunter’s songs never go longer than 5 minutes. This allows the band to really diversify a bit, with 13 tracks to Crack the Skye’s 7.

This may be the best release to date from a band that truly transcends their genre(s). It’s hard rock and metal fusion, something I don’t think any other act could pull off with this degree of success. It’s supremely entertaining throughout. If you don’t think hard rock or metal are for you, you just haven’t listened to Mastodon yet.

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