50 Unheralded Albums from 2011

Mastodon: The HunterMastodonThe Hunter (Warner Bros. / Reprise, 9/27/11)

Mastodon: “Curl of the Burl”

[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Mastodon_Curl_of_the_Burl.mp3|titles=Mastodon: “Curl of the Burl”]

Since forming in 1999, Mastodon‘s crushing, complex brand of melodic sludge has absorbed elements of thrash, prog, and Southern rock, all complemented by earthen mythology, literary ambition, and serious chops.

On The Hunter, vocal melodies are at an all-time high, with genuine pop catchy-ness that, at times, approaches the intonations of Alice in Chains. But grizzly screams and up-tempo sludge riffs have not gone the way of the band’s namesake. A few spacey and horror-esque elements, musically and lyrically, give the album an interesting wrinkle here and there. In all, The Hunter is a fun, riff-filled album, but it’s destined to alienate more Mastodon “purists.” The bottom line, however, is that the band continues to crank out killer riffs and turn on a new generation to metal — even if it has a softer edge.

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