Mastodon: The Hunter


On the heels of 2009's Crack the Skye, the most conceptual album that Mastodon has mustered so far, The Hunter comes as a shotgun blast of clean and uncomplicated metal. Bold riffs reign supreme as "Curl of the Burl" and "Black Tongue" evoke the primal roar of Leviathan - now a classic in the group's catalog. But the new songs are also propelled by a pop design, at times drawing from the same anthemic jet stream as fellow Atlantans Torche and Monstr-O. Although The Hunter doesn't betray the blackened guitar squalls and staccato rhythms that define Mastodon's sound, "Blasteroid" and "Stargasm" are sanguine, even uplifting. This stylistic shift highlights a new and previously unseen character in Mastodon. Naturally, the bestial prog snarl that's come to define the group's sound has lost a bit of its bite. But when the theremin creeps up and wraps around the haunted rhythms of "Bedazzled Fingernails," there's no question that The Hunter is Mastodon's most accessible album and, in its simplicity, the band's most accomplished. (4 out of 5 stars)