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Sludge With An Edge - 79%

Erdrickgr, January 1st, 2008

Mastodon's music is sludge with an edge: sometimes it has a progressive edge, and sometimes it's the edge of a battering ram that's pounding on you. Rather than going a wholly progressive route on the one hand, or over-pummeling you on the other, Mastodon strike a good balance between the two. In this balance, Mastodon create a sound not really heard much elsewhere, and it's a kick ass sound they're making. The main negative is that they seem to plug guitar riffs in here and there where they don't fit really well, making it obvious that they're still getting used to playing together.

The vocals on the demo were by Eric Saner, who left the band shortly after this demo was released. They are above average and energetic, though not really too much different than other hardcore yell-singing found in this genre. Still, if you're a fan of the band, it's nice to be able to contrast Saner's approach to the vocals on these songs with Brent and Troy's later approach.

Bill and Brent mount an awesome guitar assault here, nice a sludgy, but aggressive when necessary, and clean when necessary. I think one of the reasons that they've been compared to Metallica so much is not because of any similiarity in sound (which would be stretching it), but rather because they like to mix some slower stuff in with some really heavy stuff, ala Ride The Lightning or Master of Puppets. They can knock you on your ass and get your head banging with their guitar riffs, but they also have some nice clean parts on songs like Battle at Sea.

The bass is fine, getting a few prominent roles in songs. The drums, on the other hand, seem to always have a prominent role, as Brann is constantly beating on them like a mad man throughout the album. It may not be everyone's thing, but if you like insane drumming, you'll like Mastodon.

This is the first slab of metal by a great band. The problem here is that the material on this CD has been rereleased twice now (five of the songs are on the Lifesblood EP, and all of the songs are on the Call of the Mastodon CD). So, the main reason to get this CD is to hear Saner on the vocals, and hear what Mastodon originally sounded like when they first got together. (Note: the score dropped somewhat for the inconsistency at times [using riffs that didn't fit], and also because the riffs just aren't as good as the stuff that they would come out with on the albums that followed.)