Mastodon - The Hunter (2011)

I didn't have much time to think about my expectations for Mastodon's The Hunter. I have been and still am emotionally occupied with the three previous albums, and I haven't even listened to their debut.. But, how could I not have bought this album as soon as it came out?

This is the special edition cover.
It feels extremely weird to write about Mastodon without the usual OMG IT'S SO GOOD I'M GONNA DIE reaction.. I guess that says something about this album. It's not a bad album in any way, but it's different. Maybe the lack of a unifying theme does it, which leads to a lack of epicness, which is absolutely weird because it's Mastodon we're talking about here.. Yes, this is the first non-concept album by Mastodon.

Compared to the older Mastodon albums, The Hunter is way more relaxed and mellow. There are no purely aggressive songs, and the calmer songs have not been constructed into the breath-taking, almost scary form that the band has done in the past. I think the overall feeling on this album is something you might feel on a slow Sunday when everything's just fine. No extreme feelings in either positive or negative ends - with a few exceptions. On a scale of Mastodon epicness from 1 to 10, I reached a 6,8 on Stargasm, 7,6 on The Hunter, 8,6 on Spectrelight and something close to 7 on The Sparrow.

Of course it's a matter of personal taste as well. In general I'm not a fan of averageness, and in my head averageness often comes with happy melodies in major and a tempo that is neither fast nor slow. Other things also affect it, but these things apply in the case of Mastodon.

My favorite song on the album, with no doubt, is Spectrelight. It is the only sort-of-aggressive song on the album and it reminds me a lot of the Mastodon that I fell in love with. Other favorites:
- Black Tongue, where the average tempo and rather simple riffs are wonderfully built up with the drums. Gotta love Mr. Brann Dailor for that. Btw, I remember him saying on the dvd that this song is about a parrot. They do have black tongues..
- Curl of the Burl is the best Sunday song on this album. It's mellow, but the sludgy guitars bring in the much needed heaviness to it, and even the descending chorus vocal melody sounds like it's something grand. Also, if you start a song with "I killed a man 'cause he killed my goat", you can't go much wrong..
- Stargasm. I think this is a song about having sex in space. It's verging on epic. I'm almost reaching a stargastic state myself - actually, I think I might have to try listening to this on a dark night under the stars. On this song there's some of that awesome Mastodon dreaminess that I enjoy so very much.
- The Hunter. This falls into the same "verging on epic" -category, but this time the we are at the sadder end of the scale. It is slow and sad, but very comforting.
- The Sparrow. Yeah, I guess no one can resist that beautiful guitar melody. It is amazing. At the same time I'm sort of disappointed that they trusted the melody so much that lyrically (and vocally) the song relies on just one line. "Pursue happiness with diligence." Yes, it is a good line and I understand why they felt it is enough for this, but I can't help but imagine what this song could have been built into with more vocals.

Here's the video for Spectrelight, with the official Hunter imagery.

I bought the special edition of The Hunter, which includes a dvd with music videos and some making of material, as well as a track-by-track commentary. I was sort of disappointed that the track commentary was mainly done by Brann Dailor (the drummer) alone. Makes it feel like they did this in a hurry. I would've liked to see the whole band sit down and talk about each song.
A fun feature with the special edition is the augmented reality experience, where you go to this website, show the album art to your webcam, and then you suddenly BECOME the Hunter yourself! ...Yeah, it's just what you might except from Mastodon. And I like it that they created this identifiable, original mascot that can only be related to this album.

Yours truly as the Hunter:

Isn't that like the awesomest thing you've ever seen. The Hunter just chilling in someone's bedroom with a Scott Pilgrim poster and an unmade bed in the back.

The Hunter gets an 8/10 from me.

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