MASTODON – EMPEROR OF SAND
Turn your nose up all you want, Metal Elitists, but Mastodon just keeps putting out awesome metal whether you like it or not. You can be mad that they have gone fully clean with their vocals, or that they seem to put out one radio-rock jam on every record (admittedly, “Show Yourself” is probably the worst yet), but Mastodon’s continued evolution has led to their strongest album since Crack the Skye.
The biggest shift in the band’s dynamic has been drummer Brann Dailor usurping the role of secondary vocalist from Brett Hinds, and in my honest opinion, not a moment too soon (I love Brett as a guitarist and screamer, but my god he cannot sing). Dailor’s clean vocals shine on tracks like “Steambreather” and “Roots Remain”, and his drumming continues to serve as the backbone of the band. Troy Sanders still carries the torch as the primary vocalist, and his voice continues to be one of my favorites in the genre.
Emperor of Sand is chock full of great, interesting tracks, despite the fact that the three singles released before the album are probably the weakest tracks on the record (“Sultan’s Curse”, “Show Yourself”, “Andromeda”). The rest of the album is full of varied sounds, but all thematically connected in an interesting & engaging way. I know everyone gets all weak in the knees over Crack the Skye, but I believe this may be the strongest post-Leviathan record that the band has released.
“Steambreather”, “Clandestiny”, “Jaguar God”
Mastodon released an EP, Cold Dark Place, this year as well. I don’t consider EP’s when it comes to my rankings, but Cold Dark Place is well worth your time. Much softer and more subdued than your usual Mastodon fare, the album showcases their songwriting better than any record I’ve ever heard from them.