Mastodon are one of the best bands to come out in the last 15 years. They have always been a band that stuck to their guns and let the music speak for itself. They have managed to evolve as a band as organically as possible. When you have four members that all fit together to create something so deep and poignant, it leaves a lasting mark. On their new album Emperor Of Sand, Mastodon gets back to what they do best, making albums. Drawing from their personal struggles and family tragedies of cancer, Emperor Of Sand tells the tale of a desert wanderer who has been handed a death sentence. This album is one of their deepest lyrically since Crack The Skye. So much so that, when you are listening to the album the story and words take you on a journey that is separate from the music. There is something truly remarkable about this album with its ability to give you two different ways to listen. One being just the music and the other with the lyrics and story.
Working with Brendan O’Brien again, who was in the producers chair for Crack The Skye, gets the band back on track. Songs like opener “Sultan’s Curse,” “Precious Stones,” “Roots Remain,” “Ancient Kingdom,” “Andromeda,” Scorpion Breath (featuring Scott Kelly of Neurosis on guest vocals) and closer “Jaguar God,” all have the Mastodon DNA ingrained in them. Other songs like “Steambreather,” Word To The Wise,” and Clandestiny,” see the band stepping out of their comfort zone a bit more and experimenting with different melodies and tones. The one odd ball song on the album “Show Yourself” is the biggest departure Mastodon has ever done. The lyrics and theme of the song really fit with the album, but musically it’s a sharp left turn.
All in all, Mastodon, has really dug deep and returned with a fantastic album. They are masters at what they do and it shows. They are truly making complete albums, something that a lot of bands seem to be forgetting about. After listening through the album a few times, I’ve determined that it’s sonically similar to Crack The Skye with a bit of Once More Round The Sun, and a dash of Blood Mountain. Mastodon are one of the few bands since the turn of the century to really leave a lasting mark. Had they come out in the 90’s, I think they would have been one of the biggest bands of the era. Not only that but, I think they would have a Tool-esque following.
Overall Rating: A
Mastodon- Emperor Of Sand: