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Mastodon - Emperor Of Sand CD (album) cover

EMPEROR OF SAND

Mastodon

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.74 | 69 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

siLLy puPPy
3 stars As the 21st century unapologetically churns out one decade after the next, the heavy metal universe seems like its in no hurry to disappear with bands becoming more popular worldwide and seeing no end in sight. Come 2017 and the Georgia, USA based band MASTODON releases its seventh studio album which hit number 7 on the US Billboard charts after a three year gap from their "fruit monster" album "Once More Around The Sun." EMPEROR OF THE SAND pretty much picks up musically where that album left off and finds the band collaborating with producer Brendon O'Brien who finessed the audio pleasures in 2009's "Crack The Skye." Once again the Neurosis connection firmly connects MASTODON to the world of sludge metal with Scott Kelly once again contributing guest vocals on "Scorpion Breath" and "Andromeda." EMPEROR OF SAND is actually a concept album about the death sentence of a nomadic desert wanderer which was inspired by loved ones who were recently diagnosed with cancer. This album, lyrically speaking, is about soul searching and the horrible realizations of mortality which makes this extremely personal in nature.

While firmly based in a progressive sludge metal sound that emerged from the beginning, MASTODON began to de-emphasize the progressive aspects of their music beginning on "The Hunter" and pretty much continues the trend on EMPEROR OF SAND. For anyone familiar with "The Hunter" and the next album "Once More 'Round The Sun," then this one will come as no shock since this is virtually a retread of those albums complete with the lead vocals and crazy percussion talents of Brann Dailor, the rhythmic guitar sludge of Bill Keiliher, the lead guitar counterpoints of Brent Hinds and the downtuned bass guitar brilliance of Troy Sanders. The band sound as sharp as ever with all the heaviness you would expect in their unique brand of the heavy metal universe and as always they deliver their catchy off-kilter yet totally accessible stamp on the world of sludge metal with an energetic delivery and percussive scaffolding unlike any other band in the metal world.

EMPEROR OF SAND is yet another very well crafted MASTODON album with all the expected riffs, vocals and percussive accompaniments. While that may sound like a sort of comfort food for some, it is also a source of mediocrity to others. MASTODON effectively carves out a very accessible radio-friendly album with the eleven songs crafted on EMPEROR OF SAND that despite having a conceptual lyrically wrapping around the package unfortunately fail to distinguish themselves adequately in the music department. Unlike previous MASTODON albums, this one literally sound the same from beginning to end despite nothing being terribly inadequate in any particular way. The problem for me with MASTODON is that they simply lack that special magic that graced the first four albums that when listened to in comparison to this, simply blow the last three albums away. MASTODON has obviously settled on cruising along on auto-pilot at this stage of their career for whatever reasons ($ perhaps?)

If their last two albums appealed to you, then you will find this as attractive as those however if you long for the days when MASTODON was an utterly unique and distinguished band that defied the trends of the day, then i'm sorry to say that this doesn't hold a candle to albums such as "Leviathon" or "Crack The Skye." EMPEROR OF SAND is very formulaic and MASTODON-by-the- numbers despite being a well performed sludge metal album with progressive accouterments. While there is nothing particularly bad about this newest offering, it does seem that it nonchalantly covers territories already tread upon. I, for one, would prefer something a bit more experimental taking them into new territories and that doesn't necessarily mean playing tuba covers of Nancy Sinatra songs. It simply means that they take their music to the next level. That is not the case on EMPEROR OF SAND where they seem to be coasting on cruise control. Still though, a pleasant enough album to freewheel through despite not really dishing out anything remotely unexpected.

3.5 rounded down

siLLy puPPy | 3/5 |

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