Genre: Heavy Metal/Rock
Mastodon have showed with their last two records that they prefer to simply rock out, expand their playing abilities by riffing and soloing endlessly, while not using the card of aggression that once characterised them in the game, at least not as often as they used to. Have they compromised or changed style and attitude? It doesn’t seem so, since “Emperor Of The Sand” is what a Mastodon fan that follows them all throughout their career could ask for and maybe even more.
There seems to be a pattern in their last three records, including this one. Starting off with a heavy song, continuing with a catchy one, rocking out the place through the whole record and finishing with a rather looser composition which is somehow more sentimentally charged. As much as this might be a marketing strategy, the power of their music doesn’t leave room for complaints. The opener “Sultan’s Curse” is a tribute to the “Leviathan” days and the striking similarity with “Morningstar” the opener of Baroness’ “Puprle” album (which was more Mastodon than Mastodon itself) is kind of confusing. “Show Yourself” might not be the ultra hit “Motherload” was, but it moves in this direction successfully. The mood all throughout the record is a perfect combination of the catchiness of “The Hunter”, “Leviathan”’s straightforwardness and “Once More Round the Sun”’s psychedelia. I can’t see how the combination of Kelihel’s riffs like in “Precious Stone” or “Andromeda”, Hinds’ solos like in “Roots Remain” and “Jaguar God”, Dailor’s continues his endless fills and singing with his clean cut, but always playful and rather creepy voice and Sander’s thundering bass can fail to produce something artistically complete that steps on their past and takes them one step further towards the direction they have chosen. They have been kicking asses for 15 years one way or the other and they continue to do so with “Emperor Of The Sand”.
I am trying sometimes to put myself in those people’s shoes. They rose from the underground, became an instant favourite with their impossible combination of aggression, technique and heaviness, toured the world, they were asked to open for Iron Maiden and Metallica in numerous occasions and generally having the world at their feet. What would the next ambition be? What would be a challenge to keep the fire burning? Aggression gave way to progression and then to psychedelia. I personally wouldn’t mind if they choose a totally different path in their next endeavours, as long as they are playing from their soul and their music speaks to me, I will cherish each of their record for what it is.
So, what did Mastodon achieve with their seventh record? They managed to blend the effortless rock vibe of their previous two records with some of the grandiose elements of their first four, while renewing the trust in their talent and vision. “Emperor Of The Sand” is not a ground breaking record as “Remission”, “Leviathan”, or “Crack The Skye” were. But it is goddamn well played record and all in all it is good music for your ears. Just have them open to enjoy.