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Mastodon - Emperor Of Sand

Mastodon - Emperor Of Sand

Label : Warner | Archive under different metal

Release type: Full-length CD

Richard V. : After listening to ‘Crack The Skye’ (2009), I assumed that Mastodon would become one of the great bands. The leap in technology, compositional ingenuity, production and song time was so great that a worldwide breakthrough was just around the corner. It did not happen, 'The Hunter' was decent but rather a step backwards than forwards and the more accessible 'Once More' Round The Sun' was not the trigger to world fame. After listening to the new album ‘Emperor Of Sand' several times, we can conclude that Mastodon has made a good album, but once again has not surpassed themselves. It is difficult to pinpoint what is holding them back. If I were to guess, I would think these men impose too many restrictions on themselves. Great band like Led Zeppelin and Rolling Stones toyed with folk, reggae and many other genres and were able to integrate it in their music without losing their identity. Mastodon remains committed to intense rock music and does not dare to step outside beaten tracks. If they would afford themselves a little more freedom the band would be a lot more interesting.

But let’s think too much over what could have been as ‘Emporer Of Sand' is another solid slab of Mastodon music full of heavy riffs and rousing rhythms. The lyrics deal with the transience of life, aging and ailments that sometimes accompanies getting older. Initially, the band had a double album in mind, but in the studio they decided to limit the quantity and just go for the best songs. Opening track 'Sultan's Curse' swings and contains all the typical Mastodon aspects, melody, dynamics and various voices. It’s easily one of the better songs on the album and deals with the elusive nature of time. In lyrical terms Mastodon is like Blue Oyster Cult long before them, a relief compared to many other metal bands. ‘Show Yourself’ has less depth and is only moderately interesting. 'Precious Stones' is a bit more intense, has more variety and is clearly in line with the previous album. Songs like 'Steambreather', 'Roots Remain' and 'Word To The Wise' aren’t bad, but lack the real fury, they just sound a bit too neat. What’s even more remarkable is that the musician that really stands out is drummer (and singer) Brann Dailor and that is saying a lot for guitar-oriented band. The jumpy ‘Ancient Kingdom’ is full of Megadeth influences and ‘Clandestiny’ stands out more for its original title than its arrangement or power. During 'Andromeda' we finally hear flashes of the band that made 'Blood Mountain'. Album closer 'Jaguar God’ is by far the best song on the album. Mastodon departs their usual pattern, experiment, come up with a challenging arrangement and deliver the most interesting music on the album. This song underlines the band’s potential and prove that they can do much more than they showed in previous songs.

'Emperor Of Sand' consolidates Mastodon’s position in the genre, but will convince few that weren’t fans already. Hopefully they take more risks next time when they write songs. Maybe…

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