Mastodon - The Hunter (2011)

Quite usual to see something about Mastodon here at HGFH. This time I'm going to review "The Hunter", the long-awaited record we've been talking about in the past four months. Starting with the knowledge that almost everything in the Mastodon universe has changed; namely, this is not a concept record, Paul Romano isn't the one who did the artwork, this is going to be "a fun record you can drink a beer to", and even the band logo has changed; one thing's certain, that we're not gonna have a sequel to "Leviathan" or even a "Crack The Skye" number 2.

With 13 tracks, running over 53 minutes, "The Hunter" is the lengthiest Mastodon record to date -- the other being "Blood Mountain" with 50 minutes -- but it's not as progressive as the previous records as it's not meant to be. The fact that this is supposedly a fun record would remind one of the other fun tracks they've recorded before, like 'Cut You With A Linoleum Knife'. Unfortunately, that is not the case. All of us know that Troy and Brent have altered their vocal approach ever since "Crack The Skye", with the aim of singing more and screaming less. And that did work in that particular album because of the nature of the genre (70's prog rock) but whether the same thing would work in a fun record too, I'm not too sure about it.

Obviously Brent's singing abilities could be be of enormous help, in such a scenario, given his other projects, West End Motel and the Blood Vessels, all revolve around them more or less, also, that his incorporation of the singing vocals leads back to "Leviathan" and before that Four Hour Fogger; but here again the chance has been missed, and we either don't get to hear Brent sing as often as say, Troy, or even Brann. Yes, that's right, Brann, who only sang occasionally in the past, can be heard on almost every song in "The Hunter", not aping King Diamond as in 'Cut You With A Linoleum Knife', but doing a more straightforward version of what he did in 'Oblivion' -- practically making the record sound even more radio, pop rock than before.

Musically, I had expected "The Hunter" to be heavier than "Crack The Skye", having in mind Bill's claim that he has contributed more riffs and all, but again, except for 'Spectrelight', we can hardly think of "The Hunter" as a metal record to begin with. I really don't like the term sludge pop, hence it might seem appropriate for a vast majority of Mastodon's music on "The Hunter". Overall, I was able to enjoy my later listens, though not as a Mastodon record, and I've got one damn good reason for saying so; that being Troy's own words about Mastodon:

"Our music and our stage show is very intense; it's very demanding. But it's basically because we choose to write this type of music that embodies everything dark and deep and brutal about life that we encounter, which are the same things everyone else encounters. We just take all this, and we channel it through what we call Mastodon."