MASTODON – Once More Round The Sun
Mastodon. The name is associated with sludge and stoner prog metal (or whatever you want to call it). Not anymore. While The Hunter left people wanting more of the groovy sludge based sound that Mastodon were putting out, Once More Round The Sun takes you on a hard rock/prog journey that you might find incredible.
The album begins on a high with Tread Lightly. Groovy and flourishing riffs supplemented by Troy Sanders and Brann Dailor’s strong vocal sets. The song ends as it begins, on a high note, with a tasty solo followed by a mighty mighty track that Mastodon aptly chose to name The Motherload. Most people would now jump out of their seats and scream “MAINSTREAM!!”, however with the song clocking in such, that no opportunity to derive a radio cut out of it arises, Mastodon has simply pulled off an amazing track. The video, is amusing, no matter how “controversial” you may deem it to be. It’s been called sexist and demeaning, which isn’t the case when Miley Cyrus twerks or Nicki Minaj incorporates the same in her deplorable, horrendous videos. The Motherload video is more or less a parody of metal videos from the 90’s and is a fantastic song. Mastodon has been one of the pioneers of the modern riffage and High Road only justifies the position they are in right now. Is it as brilliant as any modern prog rock song can be and yet does not veer away drastically from the Mastodon sound. The riff to end the song is simply fitting and catchy, as is the video. “Nerdy and cute” is a much repeated phrase in the comments on the video.
Brett Hinds finally takes over vocal duties with the title track, that seems like something out of Leviathan with an intro that evokes memories of that masterpiece. The song is a short breezy one, yet more than satisfactory when it comes to title tracks. This brings us to what is probably the grooviest and the heaviest of all the tracks on this album, Chimes at Midnight. The bass is massive on this one and is simply a joy to listen to because you do not get any more classic Mastodon than on this track. Hinds and Bill Kelliher have quite a task to keep up with the overall deep bassy feel of this track and do an extraordinary job. Definitely the track to get you hooked onto the album. Asleep In The Deep is a track that slows down the album abruptly and softens the proceedings. This is propounded by the fact that Feast Your Eyes could have been so much heavier and yet only launches one into a semi excited state. The drumming on this track however is exceptional.
Honestly, Aunt Lisa is a song that I still haven’t been able to wrap my head around. The whole chorus bit at the end, with The Coathangers making a cameo and screaming “Hey ho! Let’s fucking go!” in a Ramones reference(?) is a little cheesy, one must admit. We’ll peg this track as a disappointment, despite the band’s obvious attempt at humour. Ember City is however not a disappointment. Sweet guitar riffs, solos and Dailor’s vocals are what keeps this track high throughout. Hinds makes a return on Halloween, not just on vocals but also massively on guitars as his signature is all over the track, while Kelliher and Dailor are equally imposing. This song and Chimes At Midnight should be more than enough for anyone to pick the album up, Mastodon fan or not. Halloween is nostalgia inducing and elegant. Diamond In The Witch House is the last track in this album and is the longest. It is slightly drone-y, one must admit, doomy and progressive. However it does not pack the punch that Mastodon usually delivers in long songs. Maybe it has something to do with recurring guest Scott Kelly from Neurosis on vocals, but in general, the song tries to be something that could’ve been released on Leviathan, but was rejected.
Overall, Once More Round The Sun is a win, irrespective of the couple of mishaps that happened on the album. The album is certainly radio worthy, however it still doesn’t seem like that is what the band set out to achieve. The sound takes a massive leap in the prog-rock direction but the overall feel of Mastodon has not been lost. The album is solid and powerful when it matters. Definitely worth a buy. Unless of course, you’re the kind of a stuck up idiot who says “Dude, Mastodon were good only on Leviathan.”