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After listening through this album, it's difficult to imagine that the same group made an album like Blood Mountain. There is a noticeable lack of heavy moments on the album, and the once interesting qualities Mastodon possessed are either not shown as much or taken completely out. This album doesn't sound very much like metal. Instead, it takes on a grungy rock type of sound. While I'm not against bands attempting to change their sound from album to album in the name of progressing their sound or exploring new musical frontiers, this album does a very poor job of doing either.
One might argue that this album does show Mastodon progressing their sound, but I don't find that to be the case here. If anything, this album shows Mastodon digressing in quality. The only tracks on here which show any real heaviness are "Blasteroid" and "Spectrelight." While heaviness certainly isn't the main point Mastodon is trying to make with their music, it's certainly a quality that made them fun to listen to. Not only does Mastodon remove one of the reasons that made them an enjoyable listen, but they don't even bring interesting material forth. The album is mainly made up of slow, ambient rock songs which don't provide a very fulfilling listen. Sure, some good guitar riffs occasionally make themselves known, but that doesn't happen much.
The other argument some might use in defense of this album is that Mastodon is exploring new musical frontiers. I can't say that argument isn't true since Mastodon's sound has changed considerably. However, what I can say is that the explorations they have made with this album aren't very fascinating. The album feels tired, and it shows.
The positive things about this album are that the vocal performances are solid, there are some good guitar solos to be heard here, and there are moments on this album that do remind the listener of the sound Mastodon once had. Sadly, despite these positive elements, the bad far outweighs the good. The songs are either too slow for their own good, mediocre, or just plain annoying. The track "Curl of the Burl" annoyed me very much. The song has a very pop-like tune to it and rubbed me the wrong way.
As a fan of Mastodon's previous work, this album was very disappointing. I don't recommend checking this album out unless you fit one or both of the following criteria:
1. You enjoy softer, slower music
2. You are a die-hard fan of Mastodon