Review: Mastodon – Once More ‘Round The Sun

Mastodon are back with another album sure to blow a few minds, and certainly bang a few as well. Their often stunning brand of metal; be it proto-rock, thrash/prog metal, or straight up hard rock is an always evolving fascinating beast. Once More ‘Round The Sun contains everything Mastodon are famous for, and pushes it into even more epic territory.

Mastodon have always been a crossover hit – arty enough for the garage and indie fans, and hard enough for the rock and metal fans. That is one of their biggest strengths, and why they are held in such high regard.

The first two singles High Road and Chimes At Midnight are indicative of the album’s jackhammer-as-a-scalpel delivery, compressing what for acts like Tool may be an 8 or 9 minute epic into 4 or 5 minutes of brilliance.

Watch: Mastodon – High Road

The title track is a three minute piece of magic, it must surely be the next single – it’s danceable rock almost reminiscent of Foo Fighters. In fact there are influences all over the album from the likes of Faith No More, Alice In Chains, Queens Of The Stone Age, Melvins and Black Sabbath.

From the twisted metal thrash of Ember City to the dense and pummelling onslaught of The Motherload, Mastodon are unwavering in their commitment to quality rock n’ roll. Compressing all this into 54 minutes is an outstanding effort in production. Meanwhile the album closer Diamond In The Witch House is a stunning work of art and at 7 minutes just seems to breeze by in half that time.

Special mention must be made of the tripped-out artwork; it belongs on a vinyl cover to really appreciate it. Just don’t smoke a bowl and spend too much time gazing at the colours. Mastodon have always been strong on this type of flashy imagery to accompany their tunes, and it can help gloss some niggling flaws.

There are a few of those flaws on Once More ‘Round The Sun, but that’s more about personal taste and the listeners’ relationship to Mastodon’s albums than anything else. Older fans may see Mastodon as slowly moving away from their prog-metal roots into more mainstream fare and feel a little dejected, but most of us are happy to enjoy the ride.

Full of pounding riffs, and with a completely unpretentious grandiose nature, Once More ‘Round The Sun is a slick production that is another behemoth in the Mastodon catalogue. It’s album number six, and Mastodon have yet again pushed themselves up a notch and should rightly be counted amongst the finest hard rock acts on the planet right now.

Once More ‘Round The Sun is out now.

Watch: Mastodon – Chimes At Midnight Audio Visualiser

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