Mastodon are one of the few bands to be able to do what they want and exist on a major label. Their music has evolved from straight up sludgy metal, to evoking the progressive rock spirit. Evolution is a major key to survival in music. Playing the same things over and over make things stale and stagnate. Mastodon had a misstep of sorts with their previous album The Hunter, but are on the track to redemption with their new album Once More Round The Sun. This new album at first isn’t as captivating as Crack The Skye or Leviathan, but after a few listens it starts to pull you in. There is still the elements of 70’s rock, bits of prog, and touches of their classic sludge tone throughout the album. The production is crisp and sleek without being over produced. Nick Raskulinecz really was able to capture what the band has become just as their previous work with Matt Bayles (Remission, Leviathan, Blood Mountain) and Brendan O’Brien (Crack The Skye). Only on The Hunter with Mike Elizondo was the magic lost. The 11 tracks on this new album have a more consistent flow making it seem like an album rather than a group of songs, even though that band has said there is not concept to this album.
Starting off the album is “Tread Lightly” a very solid opener with lots of melody but keeps a “heavy” structure. The ending solo is strong and trails off perfectly into the next song. “The Motherload” has a very cool dueling harmonic guitar riff. The chorus is catchy and full of melody even prompting a bit of a sing along. The guitar solo in the song is reminiscent of something that would be on an album from the 70’s. “High Road” starts simple chunky riff that sets in the groove of the song. This song has sort of Leviathan vibe but more melodic. Live “High Road” is a gem. The title track “Once More Round The Sun” has a Thin Lizzy influence written all over it. The vocal melody even sways that way during the verses. If you can imagine Thin Lizzy being a prog rock band, this song would definitely be in their catalog. “Chimes At Midnight” has a Blood Mountain vibe to it. The rhythm of the song is very percussive. This song live, like “High Road” is great, if not better than the latter. “Asleep In The Deep” is a very laid back mellow and melodic rock song. “Feast Your Eyes” is a heavier jam with gang of vocals during the chorus. “Aunt Lisa” is a very strange song for Mastodon. The structure and sound of the song is all over genres and influences and features guest vocals from the band The Coathangers. “Ember City” is just an average song. It really doesn’t do anything with the exception of the melodic chorus.. This song and “Aunt Lisa” they are the two weakest tracks on the album. “Halloween” is another song that has the 1970’s written all over it. The groove of the rhythm is solid and the highlight of the song is the rocking guitar solo. Closing out the album is “Diamond In The Witch House” which features guest vocals from frequent guest Scott Kelly of Neurosis. The song has a Crack The Skye meets Neurosis Times Of Grace vibe to it. Scott Kelly always delivers on his songs with Mastodon and this one is no different.
All in all this is a solid album. Mastodon seem to be heading back in the right direction. After listening a few times, there is definitely a theme present through the record. On the scale of 1-10, I’d give this album an 8.
By: Brian Lacy