The new album by Mastodon, Emperor Of Sand, released Friday and it's every bit as awesome as I hoped it would be. Eleven songs of sheer prog metal bliss, it's one of those albums that feels more like a journey than a collection of songs, and by far their best sounding album to date. The production alone is worth the price of admission, masterfully produced by Brendan O'Brien, their signature tones are sharp and clear, yet warm and beautifully balanced. It's a gorgeous sounding album. The drum production is sublime, highlighting Bran Dailor's tour de force performance throughout.
The five members are firing on all cylinders, and joining like the parts of a high performance engine. Powerful vocal deliveries and bass-lines from Troy Sanders, massive guitar riffs from Bill Kelliher, blistering yet emotive solos and the signature twangy vocals from Brent Hinds, and the aforementioned Bran taking his melodic singing to new heights. The album opens with a classic style Mastodon track, Sultan's Curse, reminiscent of their Crack The Skye album, then moves to Show Yourself, an extension of the pop explorations of their last album, and then the album evolves past anything they've done before. It's heavy yet deeply melodic, relentless, psychedelic, artistic, very dark yet uplifting. From my initial impressions, the early standouts are Steambreather, Roots Remain, Clandestiny, and Jaguar God, but there isn't a bum track to be found, and this is the kind of album that may take weeks to even begin to digest.
If you've been on the fence about, or dismissive of, this band in the past, this might be the album to make a fan out of you. As I predicted recently, this is their Moving Pictures, a distillation of the best of everything they've been previously perfected, a band at the height of their game. I highly recommend.