Saturday 1 April 2017

Mastodon - Emperor Of Sand (Album Review)

Release date: March 31st 2017. Label: Reprise Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Emperor Of Sand – Tracklisting

Sultan's Curse
Show Yourself
Precious Stones
Roots Remain
Word To The Wise
Ancient Kingdom
Scorpion Breath
Jaguar God


Brann Dailor - Drums and Vocals
Brent Hinds - Guitar and Vocals
Bill Kelliher - Guitar
Troy Sanders - Bass and Vocals


Mastodon to me truly exemplify what a progressive band sounds like.

It's not just about huge song lengths and mad time signature's and wearing a Wizards cape whilst you perform your new songs 13 minute long keyboard solo (although obviously all that stuff is fucking ace), it's about having a body of work that twists and turns but never loses that quintessential "something" that made you fall in love with them in the first place.

Sure, we all love Remission and to me (and probably lots of other people) Leviathan is a stone cold classic, but in their new record Emperor Of Sand, Mastodon have released what I was originally going to say is their best record since Crack The Skye but after a few listens I honestly believe is their best record. Full. Stop.

They've gone from writing songs like the incredibly heavy Mother Puncher and Iron Tusk to songs like Show Yourself which will undoubtedly get everyone all worked up about it's "pop" sensibilities and arena filling chorus. But what's wrong with that? Every band that releases a record wants it to sell and to attract new listeners and I call bullshit on anyone who says otherwise.

The album is certainly the most aggressive they have released for a while and the mix really accentuates the bowel troubling riffs and thunderous drumming, but also really let's the incredible vocals shine through.

The vocals are certainly one of the standout features throughout, but to be honest with, basically three vocalists and Mastodon's song writing pedigree you probably shouldn't expect any less. There are so many vocal hooks on this album it's ridiculous... Like a screw fix direct warehouse...

Perfect examples of this being on the back to back tracks Steambreather and Roots Remain. The former coming in on a bit of fuzz and a hypnotic and driving riff which is a call back throughout, and the latter delivers a HUGE chorus from out of nowhere which literally gives me goosebumps every time I hear it.

The album closes on another immense track Jaguar God which is a slow burner, but builds and builds veering almost into Porcupine Tree like territories before unleashing a solo that will probably see guitarists everywhere immediately selling theirs....

Mastodon have got to a point now where they have become very divisive. I've seen a fair few people now moaning about the new direction and the lack of full on grunt we got in some of their earlier works, but equally just as many people who share my view that the band have evolved and progressed throughout their career and in Emperor Of Sand have released a very, very special record. A record that is instinctively Mastodon and a record that in my opinion will be looked back on as a benchmark in years to come.

Words by Simon Ross Williams

Emperor Of Sand is available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl now.