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One of the most anticipated metal albums of 2011 has been Mastodon's 'The Hunter'. In 2009, they took their music to a new level with 'Crack The Skye', which has since been considered a modern progressive metal classic. After going all-out with a bombastic concept and thirteen minute epics, Mastodon then decide to tone down their sound in favour of a more accessible style, as would be promised in their new album. As someone who appreciated the adventurous risks they were taking with their progressive material, I was a little disappointed to hear that they were regressing, but would check out the album all the same to some considerable relief. While I was thinking that Mastodon had thrown down their progressive arms and turned 'pop', I beheld the greatest album they had done to date, although it certainly was not perfect. There were still songs here that fulfilled my apprehension of Mastodon 'dumbing down' their sound, and sadly, the big single from this album is an offender. 'Curl Of The Burl' sees Mastodon go for a bland, generic take on stoner rock. Luckily, this would be more of an exception in the album, than a general rule.
If Mastodon had not already announced that they were aiming to create a more rock-based record, I would have thought that the band was making a joke with 'Curl Of The Burl', a bluesy riff-oriented track that is about as straightforward as it gets. Keep in mind that this is still Mastodon, and from the tones of the guitar to the distinctive voices, Mastodon never try to be someone that they aren't. What they are being is a stripped down, naked version of themselves, without any nuance or depth to it. This does make for a pretty instantly enjoyable listen, and especially with the sing-song chorus, 'Curl Of The Burl' is a track that gets in your head by the end of the first listen. A good song does not get worse with every subsequent listen though, and this is something that this song suffers badly from. For a concise dish of tame riff rock, Mastodon's 'Curl Of The Burl' is a good choice, but there really isn't enough here to be worth returning to on its own.