(9/10) My Mastodon trip started with their sophomore album „Leviathan“. This disc made more than an impression and still belongs to my all-time-faves. This was 13 years ago and in the meantime the Atlanta-based band released many more records with an constantly growing supporters base.
„Emperor of Sand“ is the newest work of art, an album that was recorded at The Quarry Recording Studio, produced by Brendan O’Brien who did already the 2009 release „Crack the Skye“. The band uses the story of a wanderer, who’s on a journey through an hostile to life desert and what sounds like a fantasy story is actually a metaphor for the effect and suffering of long-term sicknesses like cancer. In these kind of situations time gets very important, asking the first question: How much time do I have. Mortality becomes all of a sudden a beast that tries to catch hold of you.
The newest longplayer is the most mature one up to date. The four-piece band makes use of so many different styles, bringing them all together on an album that stands with 100% for Mastodon.
"Sultan's Curse", a pounding song, acts as the opener for the album. It's a mid-pace number that has quite melodic vocal lines, interacting with a guitar sound that alternates between heavy riffing and melodic leads. The latter brings a certain classic rock feeling to the table that's well embedded. The next masterpiece is entitled "Show Yourself" which is surprisingly melodic - almost a bit too catchy for my taste. It comes with an alternative rock expression that fits very well; for me the song is the one that’s the easiest accessible on the album.
A track that is very straight-forward too is called "Precious Stone", blending heaviness and melancholy; all with a kind of late 90’s grunge factor. And if there was any ease in some of the earlier song, this is gone with the first riff of „Steambreather". The almost swinging approach of some of the earlier songs turns into a darker and gloomier one. A hypnotic riff builds the base for the track that belongs to the best ones on the album. You can almost feel the desert heat, making life of the wanderer to a threatening experience between life and death. The song is like a sonic Fata Morgana and belongs to the pearls on this record.
What comes next got the name of "Roots Remain" and it feels like the band going back to the roots. The number is harsher than the earlier ones and especially the beginning feels like going back to the band's roots. The rougher vocals, that makes this tune to heavy pounder, underlines this too. But Mastodon is more than all the mentioned. The band incorporates progressive elements as well. „Candestiny“ is such a song that uses a 70’s progrock vibe, strengthened by the inclusion of a Moog. And as of it should act as a brutal counterpart, it’s „Andromeda“ that stands for the most brute song on the album.
„Scorpion Breathe“ combines hard-hitting drums with immense riffs; all build on a pumping bass, before the first notes of „Jaguar God“ introduce the ending of this awesome album. An acoustic guitar starts off a song that gains intensity with getting really mighty towards the end. It’s a closer that shows again the potential and capabilities of a band that was constantly growing over the last years, permanently increasing their fan base.
“Emperor of Sand” is the expected big shot of a band that developed over time to one of the most influential ones in rock and metal.
- Sultan's Curse
- Show Yourself
- Precious Stone
- Roots Remain
- Word to the Wise
- Ancient Kingdom
- Scorpion Breath
- Jaguar God
Genre: Alternative Metal
Release Date EU: March 31st, 2017