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Old 11-29-2011, 07:08 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default The Hunter - Mastodon (2010)

Wrote this for the school paper and stuff, i hope you enjoy.

Spoiler for D:<:


Deer hunting season has begun, so it would be appropriate to check out Mastodon’s newest release, the Hunter, to get hyped. You probably wouldn’t want to run into the subject of their album art, however, lest ye become the hunted.
We should begin by getting this out of the way: the Hunter is by far not their best release. It’s a new direction for sure; they seem to subtly change directions with every album, but instead of getting even deeper into their progressive-rock roots, they’ve boiled their songs down to an almost bluesy simplicity- which is not necessarily a bad thing.
The problem, however, is that their songs seem to tightly follow a (probably unintentional) pattern. The band has stated on their website that they wrote this album “off our fingertips”- basically riffing, writing, and then stepping into the studio.
The outcome of this new songwriting ethos is an album that consists of what could be called a formula: Lyrics being sung in the same melodies, shifts becoming predictable, and the instrumental proficiency the entire band possesses being underplayed. It’s new, though.
Another issue is that the band seems to have taken on a more pop-metal atmosphere with their new, simpler phase. The producer on this album, Mike Elizondo, was a co-producer for Dr. Dre as well as a producer for Avenged Sevenfold’s last album, Nightmare—which seems incredibly reflected in some of the Hunter’s songs, such as that style of “Black Tongue” or the vocals of “Thickening.”
Some new style changes pay off, though. The first three songs on the album are fairly strong; “Black Tongue” having that aforementioned A7X vampire-ish atmosphere with the math-rock time signature spasms fans have come to love. “Curl of the Burl” has a sludgey/stoner-style riff that plays through its entirety, though it is still a fast paced song, and some darkly humorous lyrics accompanying the odd subject matter. “Blasteroids” is one of the most fun moments on the album, speedy and tongue-in-cheek. Unfortunately, the three tracks between this last song and the title track of the album feel like a mediocre blur, seeming to be triplets on the album.
“The Hunter” is about Brett Hinds’ brother, who died of a heart attack during a hunting expedition, and is reminiscent of the acoustic melancholy of the Elephant Man themed tracks of Mastodon’s first three albums. It’s a fine song, but feels too familiar in their catalogue, even though it stands out from the other songs (except “the Sparrow,” a thoroughly similar song we will get to in a moment).
“Dry Bone Valley” is a head banger for sure, or at least a contagiously catchy rush of musical adrenaline, liken to Radiohead’s “Bodysnatcher.” It’s not thrash-y or even very fast at all; it grinds along, with a crushing riff and Brann Dailor’s lighter vocals gliding right above them. Dailor also provides the incredibly skilled drumming --almost all fills-- for Mastodon (just saying).
“Creature Lives” seems almost dedicated to their Elephant Man themes: the ignorant hate people hold for things that aren’t like them. While the lyrics are a bit melodramatic (think Mastodon doing “Firework,” “Perfect,” or “Born This Way”), the negative space of the feedback during the verse and the instrumental chorus is an intriguing experimentation on the band’s behalf.
“Bedazzled Fingernails” is simply groovy: the riff is so sleazy and crunchy (much like Mastodon’s earlier material) and the instrumental breakdowns are the most time signature distorting creatures the band has put out in a good time- a new achievement.
Ending the album is “The Sparrow,” the band’s dedication to their accountant’s wife, a friend of the band. It is a solemn devotion and ending, although very similar to the title track.
While not the best, the Hunter has its interesting moments and entertaining points. What could help is going back to Matt Bayles, the producer of their first three albums. His touch made their sound heavier, more solid, while still pointing towards experimentation- the dynamics and strange, psychedelic noises on Blood Mountain were much more enthralling than the slight explorations on this album.
If the band could pull off another ever-changing epic like “Hearts Alive,” they would be heading in the right direction; even the twelve minute long “The Last Baron” on Crack the Skye couldn’t touch its thirteen minute long predecessor.
And if they wish to go back to basics, look to Remission, with its focus on instrumental jamming and creating sonic atmospheres, being only accompanied by lyrics. Of course, a full instrumental album would be wonderful (see “Bladecatcher” for a showcase of how Mastodon can balance experimentation, skill, and catchiness).
Still, their sound is intact even as they seem to draw influence from their peers, when before they were more influenced by their forefathers. Their take on simpler metal/hard rock (that could easily get radio play) is successful, but it’s not what the Mastodon fans have come to love. Of course, you may never find that Mastodon twice- progression is the name of their game, and without it fans wouldn’t love them.
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Old 11-29-2011, 09:52 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I really have no justifiable reason why I haven't listened to this album yet. It's probably because I haven't yet squeezed every last drop of awesomeness from Crack the Skye. I think I'll give The Hunter a whirl tonight.
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Old 11-29-2011, 10:17 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I thought it was a very solid release by them. I enjoyed the whole album thoroughly although I don't see Curl of the Burl being a top 10 metal song of the year like I seen on some website already (number 4 I think, Anthrax took the cake for reference).

I need to listen to it more, but I'm digging it...
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Old 12-05-2011, 04:32 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Old 12-05-2011, 05:27 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I hadn't even realized these guys were still around.
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Old 12-05-2011, 05:29 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Mrd00d View Post
I thought it was a very solid release by them. I enjoyed the whole album thoroughly although I don't see Curl of the Burl being a top 10 metal song of the year like I seen on some website already (number 4 I think, Anthrax took the cake for reference).

I need to listen to it more, but I'm digging it...
Yeah, Burl was alright but I think Bedazzled Fingernails was better. But they're probably judging by singles. It was maybe solid relatively but for Mastodon i think the standards were dropped, along with the problem of repetitiveness for me.

SATCHMO, squeeze all the awesome out. The Hunter has a somewhat similar approach but they're not very alike at all, aside from what i mentioned.
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Originally Posted by WhateverDude View Post
Laser beams, psychedelic hats, and for some reason kittens. Surrel reminds me of kittens.
^if you wanna know perfection that's it, you dumb shits
Spoiler for guess what:
|i am a heron i ahev a long neck and i pick fish out of the water w/ my beak if you dont repost this comment on 10 other pages i will fly into your kitchen tonight and make a mess of your pots and pans
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Old 12-05-2011, 05:34 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Not a bad review. Without having heard the album, your review gives me a reliable preview.

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Originally Posted by Surell View Post
Their take on simpler metal/hard rock (that could easily get radio play) is successful, but it’s not what the Mastodon fans have come to love.
Very true.

Quote:
Of course, you may never find that Mastodon twice- progression is the name of their game, and without it fans wouldn’t love them.
If I'm a loving Mastodon fan (and I am) then this is very untrue of at least some of us. I'd love them infinitely more if they would continue making music like they did on 'Remission' and I wish they'd at least take a step back toward that sound. Your review implies the same. I hope they stop progressing in the direction they're moving. I'm pretty sure I won't like 'The Hunter'

Edit: I'm gonna listen to this like right now and try to forget about the 'old' Mastodon that I know and love. They deserve a chance. Also, the thread title should be changed to "...(2011)"
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Last edited by Engine; 12-05-2011 at 05:57 PM.
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Old 12-05-2011, 06:06 PM   #8 (permalink)
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My bad, i'm always stuck in 2010 for some reason. I'll tell a mod-o.

I do like their progressive nature myself, but i don't like this particular step. A more Remission like instrumental focus with the experimental nature (not the entire nature but more so there than any other album imo) and diverse taste of Blood Mountain. But as i said, i just reeeeeealllly want them to go back to Bayles.
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Laser beams, psychedelic hats, and for some reason kittens. Surrel reminds me of kittens.
^if you wanna know perfection that's it, you dumb shits
Spoiler for guess what:
|i am a heron i ahev a long neck and i pick fish out of the water w/ my beak if you dont repost this comment on 10 other pages i will fly into your kitchen tonight and make a mess of your pots and pans
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Old 12-05-2011, 06:16 PM   #9 (permalink)
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As I understand it, The Hunter was Mastodon taking a break from extremely complex concept albums so they could sit back, relax, and write some groovy jams about nothing in particular. Very enjoyable album, likely my favorite release of 2011.
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Old 12-05-2011, 06:19 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Sure, and i'll grant them that; but it still has too much repetition in structure for my liking. it makes it less gripping for me.

Btw, thanks for all the feedback guys! I am glad to see some of y'all did enjoy this album.
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Originally Posted by WhateverDude View Post
Laser beams, psychedelic hats, and for some reason kittens. Surrel reminds me of kittens.
^if you wanna know perfection that's it, you dumb shits
Spoiler for guess what:
|i am a heron i ahev a long neck and i pick fish out of the water w/ my beak if you dont repost this comment on 10 other pages i will fly into your kitchen tonight and make a mess of your pots and pans
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