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Why does this exist? - 49%

Pfuntner, June 9th, 2010

Who exactly is this trying to appeal to? I understand that this is a major label’s attempt to crossbreed fan bases, but seriously, someone clearly did not do their research. In the mainstream metal world, I struggle to think of two bands that are further apart in style and demographic appeal than Avenged Sevenfold and Mastodon. Mastodon plays exclusively to the bearded, snobby intellectual crowd, and have played at both Pitchfork Music Festival and All Tomorrow’s Parties. Avenged Sevenfold have legions of screaming fan girls in black nail polish and are about to tour with Hellyeah. So it looks we have the classic case of jocks versus nerds on this split, and I think we all know who’s going to win this one.

I might get some shit for this, but I don’t think “Beast in the Harlot” is that bad of a song, except for the cringe-inducing chorus. If it weren’t for M.Shadow’s completely emasculate and whiny vocals and that really stupid chorus (complete with the totally predictable and corny key change) this would probably be a pretty damn good song. It isn’t anything unique by any means but the song moves at a quick pace, the riffs are fun, the solos are solid and there’s tons of double bass. For modern mainstream rock this is actually pretty stellar tune, expect for that GOD AWEFUL chorus. The mood is one of simple mindless fun and the song works as perfectly harmless party rock. “Bat Country” on the other hand is just plain bad. Any chance that the verse riff had of sounding menacing is completely destroyed by the most obnoxious vocal hook in the world. Things get even worse when they decide to thrown in the single lamest soft section known to man not just once, but twice. This has got to be the most pathetic attempt at adding variety to a song. It doesn’t fit the mood and Shadow’s can’t hold a tune to save his life at lower dynamics. These songs are also hilariously overproduced. The snare and bass drums are clearly sound replaced and the guitars have no real bite to them.

I’m sort of a weird Mastodon fan in that I don’t think Leviathan is anywhere near as good it’s cracked up to be, but holy fuck do these songs rule in comparison to their competition. “Blood & Thunder” is the stronger of the two songs on this side, mainly because it excels in so many areas. There’s the fun bouncy verse riff, the epic proggy guitar harmonies in the middle of the song and that giant Neurosis-esque riff at the end. All the while Brann Dailor does what he does best, which is batter the listener with constant sixteenth note rolls. This is not to say that “Iron Tusk” is a bad song. On the contrary, its opening riff is one of the heaviest and most badass in the band’s catalogue. The rest of the song is no slouch either, making clever use of guitar harmonies by switching the lead instrument in the middle of the melody. The way that the band develops the chugging bridge riff into a discordant monster worthy of Converge is nothing short of awesome. The band hadn’t developed their songwriting skills to the level that they would on “Blood Mountain” and they aren’t reaching for prog mastery that they would with “Crack The Skye” but these songs prove that Mastodon have always had balls of steel and riffs to back it up.

Unless you’re an Avenged Sevenfold fanatic this isn’t worth your time or money. If you like Mastodon you probably already have “Leviathan” and don’t want any A7X mucking things up for you. If you’re not aware of either of these bands, just go buy “Blood Mountain” and stay as far away from the first half of this disc as you can.