At this point in Mastodon’s illustrious career, I have to ask: Is it even possible for them to make a bad album? If their latest, The Hunter, is any indication then the answer is a resounding “NO!”. Stepping away from the concept album concept (pun intended) for the first time in almost 10 years, The Hunter sees the behemoth known as Mastodon at their most loose, raw, and yet still experimental.  With but just two songs on here crossing the 5-minute mark, Mastodon keep it short and simple as well. Simple for them anyway.

In  the context of The Hunter, previously sampled opener “Black Tongue” and follow-up “Curl of the Burl” are just the tip of the iceberg in greatness. “Curl Of The Burl” still, in my mind, has possibly the greatest rock riff of 2011 while “Black Tongue” is everything that is great about Mastodon rolled into one. “Blasteroid” is rollicking and very accessible despite the guitar ludicrousness and profane chorus.

Smack dab in the middle of this, The Hunter goes somewhere else with the moving title track. It’s a haunting acoustic number with some fierce guitar work that was inspired by the accidental death of guitarist/vocalist Brent Hinds brother while on a hunting trip last December. Hence “The Hunter”.

From there on out, it’s no holds barred, all over the place Mastodon. Is that a sitar I hear on “All The Heavy Lifting”? A theremin on “Creature Lives”? Drummer Brann Dailor making a return to the mic on “Dry Bone Valley”? Yeah, they did all that.

The Hunter is a veritable smorgasbord of all the things that make Mastodon great. If you loved Remission and Leviathan and wanted that style back, it’s somewhere on The Hunter. If you loved Blood Mountain and Crack The Skye and appreciated the band’s evolution, it’s somewhere on The Hunter. If you love great fucking music, it’s all over The Hunter. In other words, The Hunter=another Mastodon masterpiece.

The Hunter is released on September 27th.

Grade: A+

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