Easily one of the most influential bands of all modern progressive metal and several other styles, Mastodon has been all over the place with the band becoming nigh-on legendary and its members being in throngs of other bands. I’ve personally never found the album that really clicked with me, and I was hoping that “Emperor of Sand” would succeed where previous efforts didn’t. Much to my happiness, Mastodon did a fabulous job with this album.
I’ve always had fucking boatloads of respect for Mastodon and what they’ve done for many of the bands that I know and love today, and their proggy sound always sounded interesting to me, but very rarely did the band actual come up with a sound that I heard and instantly thought “this is the shit!”. Going into “Emperor of Sands”, I had no idea what to expect and I hadn’t heard any singles prior to the full release. And upon hearing the record in one go the first time, I felt compelled to replay it. Upon the second spin, I was able to tell immediately that this was the first record put out by Mastodon that I can honestly say I enjoyed it in its entirety. “Emperor of Sands” really manages to mix together an awesome blend of crunchy progressive metal alongside some tasty riffs that instantly draw you in, and then spray in different vocal styles that work in perfect harmony and you’ve got one hell of a concoction that packs a real fucking wallop! The whole of the album is the definition of a roller coaster that really keeps on giving from the psychedelic opener of “Sultan’s Curse” to the foggy riffs of “Precious Stones” to the meaningful lyrics behind “Steambreather” and diversity with the finale of “Jaguar God”. I’d be willing to bargain that “Emperor of Sand” is easily one of strongest pieces that Mastodon has put out in recent years, and shows that the beast certainly is nowhere near dead.
Every year it feels that the members of Mastodon get into so many other bands that they’d get burnt out extremely quick and we’d then see a decline in quality whenever they got back together for a new album. Clearly, I was fucking wrong and I’m extremely happy that’s the case. “Emperor of Sand” is a stunning record that warrants multitudes of replays for even after three or seven or ten spins you haven’t grasped the full wonder that Mastodon has created for us. Surely, many people will name this one of their favorite records of the year when the end of December comes, and I don’t know if I’ll be one of them, but Mastodon has definitely made something that will stay in our memories for quite a long time.
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