Undigested #4: Mastodon “The Hunter”

Today Mastodon posted a full album stream of their upcoming record, The Hunter. After getting more pressing work done I sat down and took some notes. Because it’s streaming via youtube “visualizer” there aren’t proper track divisions. However, I thought it would be helpful to mark off approximately where in the stream each song begins. Go have a listen yourself and flip back to my pithy, helpful comments. They’re really insightful and not at all the work of a bitter, disenchanted former fan.


0:00 “Black Tongue”

entirely passive until about 1:50 mark then a half minute later falls back into passive mode for a weak “solo”

lyrics, at least what I can make out, are banal as shit


3:30 “Curl of the Burl”

makes me think of Clutch and why Clutch sucks so bad: boogie woogie with distortion and a limp chorus made for mainstream radio

fucking stupid ass lyrics again. “it’s the curl of the burl / that’s the way of the world” is so trite is makes my bowls churn


7:08 “Blasteroid”

countrified, scots/irish opening

kinda actually sweet riff around 7:40ish obscured by weird vocal warbling

they’re real big on this passive sense of unurgency. that’s as much a real word as this is a good song.


9:40 “Stargasm”

these song titles are as stupid as the songs. this song kinda starts okay, little space-y and searching.

ah fuck, they punch in and Brann kicks in with his new favorite boom badada boom badada beat that’s just killing their material from the inside out. remember when he was one of the most innovative and interesting drummers going? No? that’s because it’s been like six years since that was true.

is the chorus “You’re on fire”? my lord.

boom bada boom boom ba p’da

this “visualizer” thing they have going with this stream reminds me of Pantera‘s “Planet Caravan” video


14:20 “Octopus Has No Friends”

more bagpipes transcribed for guitar. I like bagpipe and whatnot, but it doesn’t seem to work on guitar.

btw, if you think this is fun for me, trashing another album by a band that at one time completely blew my mind and made me want to dive deeper into more extreme/heavy forms of music, well, it’s not fun.

the singing is so bad!

the watered-down Yes and Zep licks don’t help much either. they could be totally cool and I’d have no idea because in the greater context they’re not that much more interesting.


18:12 “All the Heavy Lifting”

jesus, does this thing really go on for a full 53:04? no way I’m making it that far in one sitting. two sittings. I had to stand up after the first two and take a little walk around my apartment. and shoot off that tweet about how the first two songs were bad.

I thought I heard some snippet a week or so ago that was decent? where did that one go? their one b-side from the Crack the Skye sessions was better than anything off that record, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised if they did the same thing here.

the shift at 20:22 is the most interesting thing I’ve heard so far but about 15 seconds go by before they make it bland again.

I’m starting to worry about what really transpired when Brent Hinds got jumped by the System of a Down dude a couple years ago. he totally hasn’t been the same since.


22:42 “The Hunter”

title track better deliver

it’s really not the guitars that have held these two latest records back, it’s the overly clean production, poor vocals and lazy drumming. there are no rough edges, you could slide across this album on your belly like it’s a bowling lane.

beguiling guitar intro succumbs to lame singing again.

oh, did they just quote Paul McCartney?

this is disappointing, they’re starting to peddle “old man rock” disguised as “prog” but it’s not that proggy. so far each song fits about the same emotional profile: stunted.

there’s nothing dangerous here


28:00 “Dry Bone Valley”

so far this album is like trying to fuck with a dry bone, so at least the concept matches the execution

visualizer thing is stuck on “kaleidoscope”

album is stuck on “not worth listening to again”

boom badada boom badada chicka chicka chicka

just noticed the snare has that flat, wet-cardboard tone

my arm itches. I think I’m allergic to how bad this is.

abrupt, stupid ending


32:00 “Thickening”

As a comparison, Mastodon slots nicely between the career arcs of Tool and Metallica now.

Tool: solid/promising ep, raw killer first album, more developed second album, blandly overwrought third, all bloated pablum since
Mastodon: solid/promising ep, raw killer first album, more developed second album, overdeveloped but still enjoyable third, all bloated pablum since
Metallica: raw killer first album, tremendous development for second album, equal third album (overall tone/approach is different), overdeveloped but still enjoyable fourth, all bloated pablum since

this song was wallpaper, it could have been instrumental but I wouldn’t know and I’m not gonna go back for another listen. let’s move on.


36:30 “Creature Lives”

noticing a trend of radio-friendly 3:30-4:00 songs here

also, get off my lawn.

speaking of Tool, here’s a bass intro that borrows liberally from Justin Chancellor’s tone catalogue.

oh. my. god. who is singing this? what is this? a choir run through chorus pedals and a healthy dose of reverb?

paging dumb operatic Peter Gabriel vocals from Lamb Lies Down On B’Way if we wanna get real specific about from whence Mastodon has taken all the wrong lessons.

that sucked and wasn’t even that short.


41:11 “Spectrelight”

oh here it is, this is the song I had heard. it had the worst lyrics I’d ever heard until I heard these other songs on this album. now they’re just another piece of garbage in a more extensive landfill.

shades of old, good Mastodon around 42:25 after the brain-damaged chorus

what a sad, sad state of affairs

I’ll say that lyrics/vocals aside, this is still the least shitty song on here and it’s probably better than anything on Crack the Skye (other than maybe “Divinations”)


44:22 “Bedazzled Fingernails”

this intro is good, reminiscent of Faraquet, oddly. they keep doing that here, opening with something novel and catchy before it all so quickly unravels.

still a less bad track than the early tracks, maybe because the crappy singing is a little further back in the mix.

I like this guitar lick, though, so I’ll give them that. they’re overdoing it and should’ve varied it by now, but whatever, it’s a lily in a cesspool.


47:29 “The Sparrow”

this has gotta be the last track I figure

the sparrow: a bland, uninteresting bird admired by Bob Marley. actually, I don’t really know anything about sparrows. I guess they could be interesting.

don’t like the bass tone on this song, it doesn’t fit. too rumbling, belongs in a different, more rocking song (which obviously isn’t happening on this record).

a lot of the tones on this record have squandered what value I think the riffs originally possessed.

guitar tone on this solo now is sorta interesting in a hot analog ’70s way. doubt it was recorded hot to tape, though. somebody prove me wrong.

too much lament in the atmosphere throughout but done so without sufficient reason to put the listener in sympathy with the artist.

wow, it ends like that? fuck this record. that was LAME.

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