Overall Score: 9/10 Riffs: 10/10 Melody: 8/10 Evolution: 8/10 Pros: Condenses the best parts of the previous two Mastodon albums into one formula Cons: None
Once More ‘Round The Sun, Mastodon’s latest studio album is the latest in a long and varied career from one of heavy music’s greatest treasures. Last album ‘The Hunter’ certainly made a noticeable effort to be more ‘accessible’ especially after the progressive epic ‘Crack the Skye’ that preceded it. So how does this latest effort compare? Well, ‘Once More ‘Round The Sun’ certainly has more in common with ‘The Hunter’ than ‘Crack the Skye;’ mainly in its shorter and simpler songs. Yet, what distinguishes it from its predecessor is the shear breadth of ideas expressed across each song. Mastodon have always been at their best when most expansive either through the Neanderthal heaviness of the first few records or the all-encompassing prog soundscapes that characterised ‘Crack the Skye’ and ‘The Hunter’s’ best moments. Expansive is, thankfully, exactly what ‘Once More ‘Round The Sun is.’
Opener ‘Tread Lightly’ demonstrates Mastodon’s utter dominance of dynamics and control of a songs ebbs and flows breaking from an acoustic introduction into some of the most delicate riffs Mastodon have done yet. In fact, ‘delicate’ is a word that would be well used to describe Mastodon’s methodology on this album. Sure, the riffs are great but dig a little deeper and you’ll hear just how much dynamism and care that all four members of Mastodon inject into their playing styles. They’ve still got the colossal riffs they’ve always had (see: Blood and Thunder, Black Tongue and Crystal Skull) but there’s just so much more subtlety to them now. Musicianship aside, what really makes is how Mastodon have taken all their great ideas and neatly slimmed them down into manageable, bitesize, four minute chunks. ‘The Hunter’s songs could often feel one-dimensional and only focussing upon one element of Mastodon’s sound. ‘Once More ‘Round The Sun’ successfully blends it all together into one cohesive package.
Once More ‘Round The Sun is out now on Reprise Records.