Now that I have had a good week to absorb the album and sink my teeth into it, I can honestly say that this is the best Mastodon Album to date and I consider myself a big fan and own all their material. If you are looking for brutal and angry, short blasts of molten metal songs, look to the older stuff. If you are looking for a well thought out, layered album that has many twist and turns and really shows off the brilliance of the four personalities coming together and pouring all their creativity and imagination into somewhat of a dare I say it “concept album” Then you will truly enjoy this. They dial back the distortion a little bit but not the intensity and display the most intricate and detailed songs they have ever written. The reason I hesitate to compare this album to concept albums of the past is because usually I think of stuffiness and over the top grandiose from those types of records, this on the other hand has a very natural flowing feel and does not feel forced or contrived in any way. This is the type of album that at first listen you might say it’s alright, but by several listens you will consider it a masterpiece. And the funny part about it is that although the songs are long, it does not feel long overall but instead seems very short. There is a definite classic rock prog feel on some parts but it never feels like you are listening to 70’s bands but instead something that is very modern and present.
I was very leery of hearing that there would be keyboards, but they are done in such a way, that they totally fit the songs and are more of an accent in the background. The track “Ghost of Karelia” at some parts reminds me of a hint of something off the Voivod Nothingface album. “Divinations” is the shortest song and sounds the most like the older material but even at that they add a different feel and there is a surf guitar sounding solo that Brent Hinds rips on, but it doesn’t sound like traditional surf but is mastodonized and fits the song perfectly. The CZAR and Crack the sky are Epic songs, that im not going to even get into, you will have to listen yourself to experience it.
The Deluxe edition with the DVD is the way to go and is worth the price by itself, proving to be very entertaining and inspirational.
Even though 2009 is only 4 months in I’m going to say this will probably be album of the year on many lists. A truly amazing record overall that I know I will be listening to many times and can’t wait to see them Live!