Emperor Of Sand - Mastodon
Artist: Mastodon Album: Emporer Of Sand Genre: Prog Rock
Review by Steve Jenkins
Mastodon have been around the music scene for seventeen years now and are well into the stage of their career where they are considered royalty, being one of the most relevant and inspirational acts in modern metal. The prog-rock masters from Atlanta have always been known for fusing primordial, sludgy, hard-hitting metal with progressiveness and sometimes commercially catchy riffs. Now, once again, they created another monumental and instant classic to add to their flawless catalogue. Their seventh studio album, Emporer Of Sand.
Fans and critics alike are usually pretty quick to assume a whole record based entirely from one track, and when Mastodon unveiled their first single 'Sultans Curse' two months ago prior to the albums official release, there were mixed reactions. From start to finish, each track on Emperor Of Sand is just simply awesome and jam packed with excellent guitar riffs plus explosions of sound that sound magical. Tracks such as 'Roots Remain', 'Jaguar God' and 'Clandestiny' are definitely some of their finest tracks to date, displaying their most technical and contagious attributes since Crack The Skye in 2009. Perhaps one of the weaker songs on the album, 'Show Yourself', is probably the only undoing by not really fitting together with the other outstanding offerings. I hate to say it, but it's just a little bit boring, and only because of how stunning the other tracks are. Some of the best moments on Emporer Of Sand would be the combination of Leviathan-era riffs that sound gigantic, and Crack The Skye quality song writing, an ideal blend for any Mastodon fanatic.
The 2014 release Once More Round The Sun kind of left people wanting a little more, especially when their previous releases were so incredible by comparison. On this occasion however they haven't left any room for disappointment, putting out a cohesive collection of tracks that entirely explore the sound that they've been moving towards. We also see the return of the two things that have garnered Mastodon their elite status, the first being Brent Hinds absolutely killing it with some epic guitar solos, which sound bigger and more shreddier than ever before. Hinds sounds as though he has found a new lease on music and his abilities, and it shows by bringing a brightness and pure rock feel that takes the core sound that the band possess to a whole other level. The second thing is trippy interludes and mystical soundscapes that began on Crack The Skye, setting a tone that takes you away to another galaxy whilst you're trying not to get blown away by the sheer force of their face melting and groove-laden riffs. Drummer and vocalist, Brann Dailor, still continues to steal the show as his vocals improve with each release, growing as an artist and proving that he is truly the backbone of the band.
Emporer Of Sand feels very much like a 'Best Of' from Mastodon, taking all of the elements that make them so great and blending them together to make an incredible album. They continue to push the envelope and develop their sound without selling out and going mainstream. Not many bands out there can sound so accessible whilst staying complex and crushingly heavy. One can't help but wonder what exactly would happen if they dropped the heaviness and the structured riffs and went full on spaced-out mode, because part of me thinks they're playing it safe. But for now, Mastodon continue to knock it out of the park with one of their most powerful and overall impressive albums so far.
4.5 out of 5 stars.
Emperor of Sands is out now on iTunes, Spotify and all good music retailers.
Listen to the track 'Andromeda' below: