Mastodon has proven itself to be a band with the talent to back up its ambition. It’s hard to get much more ambitious than 2009’s Crack The Skye. That album saw the band reach the apex of their prog-rock tendencies. How would they top that? Of course, the answer is to go in a completely different direction.

The Hunter doesn’t feature any ten minute, meandering dirges. Instead, the songs are consistently concise, lacking the overarching themes that dominated past works. We are left with 13 disparate songs that all stand on their own.

‘Black Tongue’ is a powerhouse first single and ‘Blasteroid’ doesn’t let up from the moment it starts while ‘Curl of the Burl’ sees the band embracing their Southern roots like never before. The most mellow moment is the title track which is devoted to singer/guitarist Brent Hinds’ late brother. After an extended psychedelic passage that doesn’t really go anywhere, ‘Creature Lives’ lets drummer Brann Dailor take on his first lead vocal. His voice was a nice ingredient in the past because it was used sparingly but the song doesn’t really highlight it especially well. ‘Spectrelight’ features Scott Kelly of Neurosis (a frequent collaborator with the band) in what just might be the heaviest and most intense song Mastodon has ever released.

You could make the argument that the band is at its best when constructing a cohesive narrative. It would certainly tie everything together nicely, but when you have so many good songs collected together, you end up with yet another exceptional album. Who can argue with that?

-J.J. Ellis-

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J.J. Ellis – When J.J. Ellis isn’t writing as the Allentown DVD Examiner, his Decent Exposure Radio can be heard on the air every Friday night from 10:30 to midnight (EST) on WXLV 90.3 FM or!