What the Hell Has Happened to Mastodon?

Categories: Metalocalypse

MastodonMarco.jpg
Photo by Marco Torres
Mastodon in 2011
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.

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.

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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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15 comments
conatonc
conatonc

So let me guess, Baroness has also sucked post-Red Album? Opeth hasn't been the same since Watershed (or Damnation, take your pick) and their new album, which Akerfeldt has already stated won't have any growling, is destined to be another step towards the hated mainstream for a once-great band?

Roshan Bhatt
Roshan Bhatt

Before you write your next article: 1. Throw your computer out the window 2. Don't write the article

Jonathan Watson
Jonathan Watson

I kind of agree about The Hunter, but I think the new one is pretty good.

Greg Barker
Greg Barker

Yeah why didn't they just sound exactly the same on every record? Really make it a formula so this guy could feel better.

Dillon Robert Howland III
Dillon Robert Howland III

It's okay to have favorites, but these guys are still great at what they do. By no means would I consider their recent albums failures.

GlenW
GlenW

I'll take it.

Casey Kelch
Casey Kelch

LOL this is the guy praising rap metal a couple weeks ago.

jd_key
jd_key

So, you are stuck in a small-minded, "extreme metal" POV that doesn't allow for change or creative growth?  Maybe it's just that you miss the screaming and growling?  The world should be so lucky to actually have musicians of this caliber played on commercial rock radio.  I almost hope it happens - almost.

Statements like you make here are the sign of a "genre-lover", not a "music-lover".  Like there are strict parameters that the songs must fit in or else they're a "watered-down sort of rock music"?

I like the old stuff AND the new stuff - regardless of how hard, heavy or extreme the songs are or are not, (and who defines that anyway?).  NO ONE else is making music as creative, visionary and genre-bending in the hard rock/metal world as Mastodon.  The "technical prowess" is here as much or more as it EVER was.  Brann is still setting THE standard for metal drummers, IMO.  And Brent's and Bill's harmonizing riffs and interplay are also as impressive as they have ever been.

I don't know, dude.  You might wanna open your mind a bit and expand your musical palette.  It's nice out here in the world of admiring music for it's uniqueness and creativity instead of scrutinizing how closely it follows a pre-determined sonic blueprint.

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