ALBUM REVIEW: MASTODON'S EMPEROR OF SAND! 4 1/2 SKULLS


   With Emperor Mastodon have returned to the concept album, which for me is a major positive. As was the case with Crack the Skye (also produced by Brendan O’Brien) personal tragedy within the band once again inspired the lyrical concept here which deals with the idea of being “condemned” to death. In the lyrics a desert traveler of sorts is condemned to death by the “sultan.” In addition to dealing with the brutality of his sentence, the main character also reflects on many different aspects of life. Dailor elsewhere explained that the story is allegorical, representing real life diagnosis and treatment of cancer. While some of the band’s family continues to struggle on with illness, Bill Kelliher’s mother did not survive her battle with cancer. Not surprisingly, in light of this, the subject matter is pretty sobering, gut-wrenching and the music relentlessly intense. While obviously interpreted through Mastodon’s own personal experiences and presented with their unique, story-telling twist, this idea is not entirely original. Into Eternity visited similar themes of mortality with The Incurable Tragedy (death of 3 family members from cancer), as did Redemption with This Mortal Coil (surviving myeloma). Nevertheless, I applaud Mastodon for willing to be this transparent.

   Musically, the band has continued to “progress” and mature. While they haven’t really re-invented themselves this time around, there is a definite push to make the vocals a more diverse, effective and catchy part of the Mastodon onslaught. I think they have finally figured out how to best use all those voices. Emperor’s songs feel pretty progressive and there are some great instrumental performances throughout – Dailor’s fast hands always a highlight. Observations of a return to their Blood Mountain and Crack the Skye era are pretty accurate, but the vocals are much better here with more focus on melody obviously. Despite the excellent execution there isn’t a tremendous amount of diversity song to song, with the exception of the commercial “Show Yourself” and the doomy “Steambreather” (both great songs by the way). This isn’t a negative for me though because there are so many nuances to discover with repeated listens. The only major negative would be the massively booming lower end on this recording at higher volumes. It just seems anymore that very few mixers can get this right as it plagues so many modern metal recordings. Regardless, it doesn't keep me from highly recommending this release because Mastodon remains one of the most original metal artists we have right now and it is obvious they are all about the music and not the success factor.



The track listing for the effort is as follows:
01. Sultan's Curse
02. Show Yourself
03. Precious Stones
04. Steambreather
05. Roots Remain
06. Word To The Wise
07. Ancient Kingdom
08. Clandestiny
09. Andromeda
10. Scorpion Breath
11. Jaguar God

OUR RATING: 4 1/2 SKULLS


Popular posts from this blog

ALTER BRIDGE'S "MY CHAMPION" THROUGH THE EYES OF FANS!

BAND SPOTLIGHT: GABRIEL AND THE APOCALYPSE FROM THE STREETS OF MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA!

SALOHCIN CLOTHING PRESENTS: COENTHEBUTCHER'S INTERVIEW WITH CANE HILL!