Mastodon, the band recognised by all as one of metal’s most forward-thinking acts, return with full-length album number eight. Emperor Of Sand is all about mortality and doom, told through an extended tale about a man sentenced to death in a magic desert. With fierce heavy riffs and all the other fine trappings of hard-rock of course. Out on Warner Bros.
8/10 Laurie Staff review, 30 March 2017
‘I’m always searching for the perfect riff’ - Bill Kelliher, 200something
Got to get this off my chest. I love Mastodon. Or at least, the Mastodon of old - yep, I’m one of those fans of the band, that worships their first 4 albums like idols and then, uh, stuff happened. Tepid stuff. But as a young carefree 14 year old, hearing the crushing riffs of ‘Iron Tusk’ blaring from the radio of some Tony Hawk game prompted me to stop listening to Master of Puppets on repeat and signalled the start of my prog-infused journey that eventually lead to indie rock, folk, and difficult electronic music.
So it’s fair to say that I probably owe them a lot, but by the point of The Hunter, I couldn’t be arsed anymore. “Hey we can do southern rock too yeahuh” - whatever m8. Don’t even ask me about Once More… Don’t get me wrong, not a huge amount has changed between the last two and new record Emperor of Time, they’ve still got this heavy riff/melodic chorus bit/repeat/solo/repeat/end structure and a sort of Ozzy Osbourne vocal thing going on (I miss the days of Troy Sanders’ sole bellow). But it feels a bit less thrown together and ‘non-metal tryhard’ on this one, not to mention that it feels like Bill Kelliher and pals have resumed their quest for the perfect riff (lol). Check out the opener to ‘Steambreather’. I dunno, there’s just more energy here, something that was lacking for me on the last two.
They also seem to have got more into the whole ‘conceptual’ side of records like Remission and Leviathan, making up some flimsy philosophical babble, this time about the nature of time, but I’ve never really been a lyric guy. You can’t hear them anyway. The point is, it definitely feels like they’re trying very hard to tie everything together, from the old Mastodon to the new, but I actually think it works. Wow. Wasn’t expecting that. This may even be a gateway for me, and fans like me, to get into the last two records and stop being stubborn grumpy twats. Til then, I’ll sure as hell be spinning this.
9/10 gbar Customer review, 27th March 2017
There isn’t a Mastodon album that I put on just to hear one or two songs. They have always been immersed in the art of creating a full album experience, and Emperor Of Sand is exactly that. It’s 50-plus minutes of music you are going to want to commit to in entirety. It is also the most emotional and life-affirming album the band has made; one that not only sounds vulnerable, powerful and defiant, but also one that ultimately puts life into perspective, something only a band like Mastodon can achieve.
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