Track Review: Mastodon- Sultan’s Curse

Before I go in on this track, I must give a bit of forewarning that I’m extremely biased when it comes to Mastodon. For my money, Mastodon are the best metal band of the 21st century. More importantly, they’re one of the few bands that have ever attempted a complete stylistic overhaul that I’ve been completely on board with. Since their 2000 debut record, they’ve gone from an awesome technical sludge metal outfit to an awesome psychedelic hard rock band over the course of six albums. I love everything they’ve done, and they’re one of the few bands I will ever say that about. Now that that’s out of the way, I can proceed to dig into why this new track from their upcoming seventh LP is totally brilliant. My favorite Mastodon record is 2009’s Crack the Skye, a project that, had you asked me at a certain time in my life, would very likely have been my favorite album of all time by any artist. That album’s mix of psychedelic metal and old-school prog-rock was basically the be all end all of what I want in a metal record. But it was a sound that the band stepped away from immediately afterwards on their next record. “Sultan’s Curse”, however, seems to take a lot of cues from the sound of that album, while not being quite as long winded. For as spacey and trippy as Mastodon can get, their music is always tethered to the ground by gut-stab riffs, and this roars right out of the gate with a technical, galloping lick that sort of reminds me of Baroness’s “Morning Star”. There’s also a return to the sort of twangy, banjo-esque leads that fly over the top of the rhythm section. Also in keeping with their more recent direction, the unique triple lead vocalist approach the band has developed is whole heartedly embraced once again, with Troy Sanders belting his trademark full throated bark, with Brent Hinds doing his nasal southern drawl and drummer Brann Dailor holding down the cleaner vocals in the spacey bridge. The production, helmed by Brendan O’Brien, is more naturalistic than the glitzy pop sheen of The Hunter or the massive low end crunch of Once More ‘Round the Sun. This, while not as rumbling as the previous two records, has a bit more room to breathe within its own soundscape, which fits given the more psychedelic approach this album seems to be taking. It’s very much a meat n’ potatoes Mastodon track, but looking at some of the track titles on the upcoming album, this album is going to be totally bonkers, especially since this is going to be their first concept album since Crack the Skye. While not as raging a lead single as the likes of “Oblivion” or “Curl of the Burl”, it’s a good indication that Mastodon have some rock-solid ideas behind them once again.

mastodonemperorofsandcover

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