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Oh My God...those were the only words I had when I first finished listening to this incredible album. I had never heard such a well recorded, well produced, and well performed album before this one. From the opening octaves in Oblivion, to the final breaths of The Last Baron, this ingenious Prog. Metal album has combined the best of 60's Prog. Rock and Metal into one killer album. It never once loses its intensity, never loses its beat and feel that each song presents, and each song actually seems to be able to lead into one another. Unlike Blood Mountain with its groove metal beats and playing style, each song is put in the perfect order based on the sounds it ends with, and that is part of the reason why this is so damn good of an album.
This isn't the Mastodon that made Blood Mountain, this is the new Mastodon. This is what Mastodon is made to do, this is their style and they have revolutionized both the style and the sound of Prog. It sounds richer, more complete in a way, especially with the amazing performance by Brann. All the great build ups he does that lead into the beats he performs are absolutely astounding, hes not just doing fill after fill, hes actually building the beats on top of the riffs the Brent and Bill are laying down. Along with all the auxiliary percussion pieces that he uses throughout the album (easiest to tell is of course the gong on Ghost of Karelia) it adds those little sounds that enhance the power of the sound on this album. You can hardly sometimes even notice they are there, but after listening a few times you begin to hear these things. All those little things really enhanced the sounds that they were producing.
The solos performed by Brent throughout the album are some of the best solos I've heard out of him. Each one fits so perfectly to both the chord progression and the overall feel of each song and in some cases the entire album itself. Especially how he is able to combine that 60’s sound of his guitar with his metal style of playing, the result is a sound like no other. He is able to make excellent use of his great guitar playing and really making some great solos and also great riffs.
The lyrics are also a huge improvement compared to other albums. The story that they tell and the passages from certain texts the band cites, and just the overall story of the lyrics are very captivating.
Prog. Metal and Rock have never interested me as much but after listening to this album at least 4 or 5 times, I have come to enjoy it even more each time I listen. Each time you are able to find something that you didn't know was there before or a different way to hear each song. This album will be a classic amongst many metalheads for a long time to come.
(Oblivion, Divinations, The Czar, Crack The Skye, The Last Baron)