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Mastodon - "Once More 'Round The Sun" (CD)

Mastodon - "Once More 'Round The Sun" CD cover image

"Once More 'Round The Sun" track listing:

1. Tread Lightly
2. The Motherload
3. High Road
4. Once More 'Round the Sun
5. Chimes at Midnight
6. Asleep in the Deep
7. Feast Your Eyes
8. Aunt Lisa
9. Ember City
10. Halloween
11. Diamond in the Witch House

Reviewed by on July 4, 2014

"Though I confess to never having been a Mastodon fan, I will say with hand on heart that this is an absolutely fantastic album."

As unbelievable as it may seem, it’s been ten years since Mastodon released sophomore album, "Leviathan," the concept record revolving loosely around the classic novel Moby Dick. In that time Mastodon has propelled itself to become one of the biggest names in modern heavy metal music, with albums such as "Crack the Skye" and "The Hunter" earning excellent reviews. This new album, "Once More ‘Round the Sun," is said to carry on where "The Hunter" left off, but it could well be that Mastodon has topped its previous work, and not for the first time.

The album opens with "Tread Lightly," which kicks things off in solid fashion. It’s not necessarily the strongest track on the record, but it comprises an interesting range of influences and the guitar work is absolutely fantastic, something that will remain constant throughout the rest of the album. "Tread Lightly" leads nicely into "The Motherload," which is perhaps the best song on the album for those who like the faster side of sludge/stoner metal, along the lines of "Green Machine" by Kyuss.

Though "Once More’Round the Sun" is essentially a straight forward heavy metal album, there’s so much more going on, particular in the singles "High Road" and "Chimes at Midnight," with the former echoing shades of “Perry Mason” by Ozzy Osbourne to a degree, whilst the latter’s verse is somewhat reminiscent of King Diamond’s "Arrival." There’s also a real immersive tone covering “Asleep in the Deep,” perhaps fitting for a song of this title.

Interestingly one of, if not the strongest point of the album, is the guitar work, which is so good it does what most modern rock records can’t and eclipses the vocals at times. "Ember City" is another song which displays ear catching axe work from Brett Hinds and Bill Kelliher, as is "Feast Your Eyes," which begins with a sound not unlike traditional upbeat Irish music before morphing into an excellent modern metal track. The same can be said for "Halloween," a raucous, and quite simply fun, rocker which has a bit of a quirky intro leading into a solid heavy rock song.

Though I confess to never having been a Mastodon fan, I will say with hand on heart that this is an absolutely fantastic album. It’s everything I look for when I buy a heavy metal album; enjoyable, heavy without alienating newcomers, yet catchy without selling out and most importantly, interesting. It never gets boring. The record flows seamlessly and paired with the art work makes for everything heavy metal is about. Take a bow, Mastodon, you’ve impressed again.

Highs: Fantastic guitar work and fresh sound throughout.

Lows: "Diamond in the Witch House" isn't for all listeners, and some songs can get a little muddy via effects.

Bottom line: A brilliant hard rock album from start to finish that will delight fans, win new ones, and further confirm Mastodon's name as one of the true younger bearers of old school metal mentality.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)