Mastodon chose to take an interesting route with The Hunter: after releasing three successful, highly conceptual albums, making a more standard album as they did could have ostracized many fans or simply not have worked very well for them. Coming up with a successor to their last release Crack the Skye, an album of absolutely epic proportions, was a hurdle they needed to jump as well. Who else besides Mastodon could take lyrics about astral projection, Rasputin, and wormholes, wrap it with fierce and moody music, and make it sound so good? The bar was certainly set high for a new album.
The band’s choice to stray from the usual ends up being an excellent decision. Because there’s no ridiculously involving concept here to understand, each individual song stands out on its’ own. Every song can stand on its’ own ground as a fantastic work, rather than needing the entire album to be understood both musically and lyrically. This release has 15 tracks and runs at just under 53 minutes, making it very dense – like a concentrated dose when compared to their previous albums, which tended to meander after a while. The band seems to use this change in writing style to branch out their sound more so than before. The leading single off the album, ‘Curl of the Burl’ is an incredibly groovy and catchy song that is dying to be heard on the radio. Punctuated with mad laughter in the background, the trippy synth-laden intro to ‘Creature Lives’ is surprising twist. It seems to build off of the song ‘Stargasm’, taking you on a journey through outer space before it switches into a beautiful choral chant. Jumping out at you after the calming break on ‘Creature Lives’, ‘Spectrelight’ is an intense burst of speed and frenetic guitars that revives the sound of their early albums. ‘Blasteroid’ shows off the most interesting vocals of the album – the harmonies during the verse bounce off of the roughly screamed chorus, creating a nice contrast. Overall, this album ends up sounding like the next logical step in the evolution of the beast that is Mastodon. It’s an absolutely fantastic album and one of the best to come so far this year.
Check out the video for ‘Curl of The Burl’: