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I've been listening to Mastodon since I heard they toured with High on Fire. It started off as an ok-band. While their first material didn't came off as something that'd blow your mind, something was to be noted. The quality of their releases seemed better each time. With each published song, Mastodon's space in the rock n roll world seemed more and more undeniable.
With this album they have consolidated themselves. Their incredible rhythm section only continues to develop from their previous releases and set up the pace for the melodies to take hold in a strong and decisive fashion. Their progressive intention is also to be noted, as they are able to produce songs that not only are technical, but not tough on the old eardrums. Both the leading and rythm guitars are more in harmony, with riffs that don't deviate outside their still in development style. The soloing also is worked to a level that fits much, much better to a band that receives influences from sludge, groove, stoner metal, among others. It sounds coherent, intelligent and powerful.
This band is to be carefully listened and considered to be among the new standarts of contemporary metal. I admire the effort to make progressive metal and yet not fall in the "mathemathical" category. The evolution and experience adquired since Blood Mountain is significant if not more. It does slow the tempo just a bit, but it does contribute to form them much more, and gives them a voice that's coming to be more and more unique.
It is incredibly satisfying to listen (in the record, of course) that a band that promises so much to be fulfulling themselves, taking their time and carefully thinking before taking a single step into the recording studio. An album not to be missed.