What the Hell Has Happened to Mastodon?
If you're a metalhead and you're on the Internet, you may have heard that there's a new Mastodon album out now called Once More 'Round the Sun. It's funny they call it that, because in my opinion it's really just once more around the block for a once-great metal band that has lost its way.
Photo by Marco Torres Mastodon in 2011
That's a pretty unpopular opinion these days, as Mastodon seems to be getting more popular than ever. I suppose they bridge the gap between extreme metal and more easily digested rock music pretty well for some people. I, however, find their directions over the last eight years intensely troubling, as I see Mastodon declining worse and worse as time goes on.
A lot of this is, of course, subjective. It seems perfunctory to constantly have to preface opinions by saying that, because opinions are inherently subjective, but this is the Internet and everything is taken as an ad hominem attack.
This is not an attack on Mastodon. Mastodon is a band with many supremely talented musicians who have churned out some great records over the years. Remember how great and refreshing Leviathan was in 2004, with its unrelenting heaviness and technical prowess? In a scene then dominated by either Metallica ripoffs or boring metalcore, Mastodon stood alone in trying metal outside the box.
Blood Mountain was equally as great in 2006, even if it let up on some of the heaviness and injected more progressive overtones into the mix. That was my personal album of the year in 2006, and it still remains a great record today.
Then, three years later, Mastodon released their "magnum opus," Crack the Skye. For many, this was the culmination of all the work that went into Leviathan and Blood Mountain. For the first time, they went head-on into progressive metal.
Crack the Skye, however, failed to click with me. It seemed that Mastodon lost their edge with it, instead trudging into the realm of overtly progressive music that can so easily become trite and pretentious. It was an accomplished work, I'll give it that, but it didn't resonate as a fan of heavy music.
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