CD Review: Mastodon – “Once More ‘Round the Sun”

Once More ‘Round the Sun builds on the cleaner hard rock leanings of The Hunter.






Review by David Feltman

Like The Melvins or Frank Zappa, Mastodon is a band that refuses to settle. The band has tinkered and pushed its sound on every release, always looking for something a little better, a little more interesting. Once More ‘Round the Sun builds on the cleaner hard rock leanings of The Hunter, but the album takes a more technical tact with math-y layered arrangements. The sound is every bit as big as it ever was, but it’s lighter this time, airy, like the pink bubble elephants from “Dumbo” rather than rampaging mammoths. (In fact, it’s a lot of fun to watch this video while rocking out to the new album.)

The ever-evolving sound of Mastodon has only served to sharpen the band as songwriters. The tracks take unexpected directions and entertaining detours, giving little warning before becoming viciously heavy or slowing down for some melodic noodling. The lead guitar work enjoys a more featured spot as the band makes a concentrated effort to reincorporate the spacey psychedelics of Crack the Skye on tracks like “Tread Lightly” and “Halloween.” The lighter moments are among the most transcendent of the album, like a moment of weightlessness before plunging back to Earth, but Mastodon never hesitates to get heavy when the song calls for it. Sludge icon Scott Kelly of Neurosis is even called in to close the album with the creepy eight-minute behemoth “Diamond in the Witch House.”

Oakland artist Skinner creates a bad acid trip of an album cover for the band, perfectly encapsulating the feel of the music. If you enjoyed The Hunter, Once More ‘Round the Sun is sure to impress. And if you happen to be on the fence, the good news is you can stream it free for a limited time on iTunes.

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