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This album was hyped a lot last year, and so I was fairly reluctant to get it, and didn't get it till today. Damn, what a huge waste of time, because this album is really good. Lots of big riffs with frantic and unique drumming- the way this kind of metal should be.
The albums starts off with a 4 minute long adrenaline rush called "Blood and Thunder". Great song name, and a great song too. Some pretty interesting and techincal parts, a few time signature changes and interesting drumming. The vocals are kinda strange, but while I don't really like them, they do really fit the music. They are the usual hoarse vocals, mixed with.. something else. I guess the best comparison would be a mixture of Aaron Turner and some old salty sea dog. Well, maybe that's just me.
The songs all sound very different, even though most of them follow a fairly similar pattern to the first song. "I am Ahab" is full of fast metal riffs, with a few time-sig changes thrown around. Seabeast has some interesting clean vocals, and a rather awesome outro. Again, lots of big riffs. The best way to describe these kick ass riffs would be like a mixture of Justice Era Metallica and Celestial Era Isis. They're fairly fast, though not really thrash metal fast, and they're fairly busing riffs. Not a lot of long, sustained chords, but while that may be a problem for a lesser band, it works well in Mastodon. The drumming really deserves a mension here. Calling it "Unique and interesting" really doesn't describe it that well. The drummer, while he definetly keeps the beat going, he rarely plays anything twice. Some drummers might play a fill every four bars. This guy plays a fill, well, almost every bar. It fits really well though.
Basically every song fits the above descriptions quite well, with a few clean parts thrown around, to good effect. One song that doesn't, however, is the huge, almost 14 minute long epic that is "Hearts Alive" A big long clean build up that Pelican would be proud off, (Don't know if the Pelican drummer could do what the Mastodon drummer does though) and then it quickly jumps into heavier territory. There's some vocals here that sound almost like Neurosis here, but they fit really well. The song slowly builds up, changing between heavy and clean parts again and again. It's really, really excellent stuff, definetly the best song on the album, and rthe song you should probably preview.
After that stunning song, the album ends with "Joseph Merrick", which is an awesome clean track, again, essential listening. Basically, the whole album is essential listening. If you like metal that is left of field and full of huge riffs and great ideas, check this album out.