The Hunter

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On 2011’s The Hunter, Mastodon abandoned the proggy, conceptual route taken on previous outings, choosing instead to mine the trailblazing, riff-heavy abandon of their 2004 masterpiece, Leviathan. Mastodon's increasingly accessible sound may not land them a hit anytime soon, but cuts like “Black Tongue,” “Curl of the Burl,” and “Balsteroid,” all of which arrive in sequence at the front of the set, show a willingness to write within the parameters of 21st century pop music’s dark side. That’s not to say that the band has pulled its head out of the vastness of space, as there are more than enough tracks here to satisfy fans who prefer the sludgy, drop-D epics of yore to the more organized roar of The Hunter's front end. Fueled by Brãnn Dailor's jazzy, machine-gun drumming, songs like “Octopus Has No Friends,” “All the Heavy Lifting,” and “Bedazzled Fingernails,” despite coming in at under five minutes, are epically arranged, and the surprisingly hummable, bass melody-led swamp monster anthem “Creature Lives” sounds like a Sabbathy, Lovecraftian take on Jane’s Addiction's “Summertime Rolls.” The closest Hunter comes to reaching an apex is on the breathless “Spectrelight,” a relentless three-minute slab of pure unadulterated fury that will probably clock in at around a minute and half live, but it’s an album that doesn’t really need to peak, as it never promises a thing it can’t back up, boldly and loudly.

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