Matthew Thomas’ Top 60 Albums of 2017 + Top 10 EPs + Links to Listen…

Matthew Thomas’ Top 60 Albums of 2017

Top 10 EPs of 2017 + Links to Listen & Buy

 

1. Junius – Eternal Rituals for the Accretion of Light

https://junius-official.bandcamp.com/album/eternal-rituals-for-the-accretion-of-light

 

2. Mastodon – Emperor of Sand

http://www.mastodonrocks.com/

 

3. Elder – Reflections of a Floating World

https://beholdtheelder.bandcamp.com/album/reflections-of-a-floating-world

 

4. Samsara Blues Experiment –  One With The Universe

https://samsarabluesexperiment.bandcamp.com/album/one-with-the-universe

 

5. Racquet Club – Racquet Club

http://riserecords.merchnow.com/catalogs/racquet-club

 

6. Hobosexual – Monolith

https://hobosexualmusic.bandcamp.com/album/monolith

 

7. Kadavar – Rough Times

http://kadavar.com/

 

8. Our Ceasing Voice – Free Like Tonight

http://music.our-ceasing-voice.com/album/free-like-tonight

 

9. Bask – Ramble Beyond

https://basknc.bandcamp.com/

 

10. Wolf Parade – Cry Cry Cry

https://wolfparade.bandcamp.com/album/cry-cry-cry

 

11. Telekinetic Yeti – Abominable

https://telekineticyeti.bandcamp.com/album/abominable

 

12. Sorority Noise – You’re Not As ___ As You Think

https://sororitynoise.bandcamp.com/album/youre-not-as-as-you-think

 

13. Ethereal Riffian – Afterlight DVD

https://etherealriffian.bandcamp.com/

 

14. Quicksand – Interiors

https://quicksandnyc.bandcamp.com/album/interiors

 

15. Spidergawd – IV

https://www.stickman-records.com/shop/spidergawd-iv/

 

16. Forming the Void – Relic

https://formingthevoid.bandcamp.com/album/relic

 

17. All Them Witches – Sleeping Through the War

https://allthemwitches.bandcamp.com/album/sleeping-through-the-war

 

18. House of Lightning – Self Titled

https://houseoflightning.bandcamp.com/album/house-of-lightning

 

19. The Black Angels – Death Song

http://theblackangels.com/

 

20. Pallbearer – Heartless

https://profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com/album/heartless

 

21. Ohhms – The Fool

https://ohhms.bandcamp.com/album/the-fool

 

22. VOKONIS – THE SUNKEN DJINN

https://vokonis.bandcamp.com/album/the-sunken-djinn

 

23. Mother Mars – On Lunar Highlands

https://mothermars.bandcamp.com/

 

24. Crackhouse – Be No One.  Be Nowhere.

https://crackhouseofficialband.bandcamp.com/album/be-no-one-be-nothing-2

 

25. LCD Soundsystem – American Dream

https://www.amazon.com/american-dream-LCD-Soundsystem/dp/B073Z99YP4/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1514830700&sr=1-1&keywords=lcd+soundsystem+vinyl

 

26. The Atomic Bitchwax – Force Field

https://theatomicbitchwax.bandcamp.com/

 

27. Spaceslug – Time Travel Dilemma

https://spaceslug.bandcamp.com/album/time-travel-dilemma

 

28. Slowdive – Self Titled

https://slowdive.bandcamp.com/album/slowdive

 

29. Nekromant – Snakes and Liars

https://nekromant.bandcamp.com/album/snakes-liars

 

30. Frozen Planet…1969 – From the Centre of A Parallel Universe

https://peppershakerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/from-the-centre-of-a-parallel-universe

 

31. Egypt – Cracks and Lines

https://egypt1.bandcamp.com/

 

32. Electric Orange – EOXXV

https://electricorange.bandcamp.com/album/eoxxv

 

33. Electric Age – Sleep of the Silent King

https://electricagela.bandcamp.com/album/sleep-of-the-silent-king

 

34. Comacozer – Kalos Eidos Skopeo

https://comacozer.bandcamp.com/album/kalos-eidos-skopeo

 

35. Pink Frost – New Minds

https://pinkfrost.bandcamp.com/

 

36. Deaf Radio – Alarm

https://deafradio.bandcamp.com/album/alarm

 

37. Red Scalp – Lost Ghosts

https://redscalp.bandcamp.com/album/lost-ghosts-2

 

38. Earth Drive – Stellar Drone

https://earthdrive.bandcamp.com/

 

39. I, Captain – Tiid

https://icaptain.bandcamp.com/album/tiid-2

 

40. Red Mountains – A Slow Wander

https://redmountains.bandcamp.com/album/slow-wander

 

41. Olde – Temple

https://stbrecords.bandcamp.com/album/olde-temple-2

 

42. Devil Electric – Self Titled

https://devilelectric.bandcamp.com/album/devil-electric

 

43. Sautrus – Anthony Hill

https://sautrus.bandcamp.com/album/anthony-hill

 

44. The Janitors – Horn Ur Marken

https://thejanitors.bandcamp.com/album/horn-ur-marken

 

45. Electric Moon – Stardust Rituals

https://electric-moon.bandcamp.com/album/stardust-rituals

 

46. The Re-Stoned – Chronoclasm

https://re-stoned.bandcamp.com/

 

47. Clouds Taste Satanic – The Glitter of Infinite Hell

https://cloudstastesatanic.bandcamp.com/album/the-glitter-of-infinite-hell

 

48. Ufomammut – 8

https://ufomammut.bandcamp.com/album/8-2

 

49. Lamina – Lilith

https://ragingplanet.bandcamp.com/album/l-mina-lilith

 

 

50. Space Witch – Arcanum

https://spacewitch.bandcamp.com/album/arcanum

 

The Final Tasty 10

 

51. Radio Moscow – New Beginnings

http://radiomoscow.net/

 

52. Geezer – Psychoriffadelia

https://geezertown.bandcamp.com/

 

53. Gypsy Sun Revival – Journey Outside of Time

https://gypsysunrevival.bandcamp.com/album/journey-outside-of-time

 

54. Tau Cross – Pillar of Fire

https://taucross.bandcamp.com/

 

55. Aphodyl // Cosmic Fall – Starsplit

https://psyka.bandcamp.com/album/starsplit

 

56. Summoner – Beyond The Realm of Light

https://summonerboston.bandcamp.com/

 

57. Contra – Deny Everything

https://robustfellow.bandcamp.com/album/deny-everything

 

58. Bloodnut – St. Ranga

https://bloodnut.bandcamp.com/

 

59. Poseidon – Prologue

https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/prologue

 

60. Propagandhi – Victory Lap

https://propagandhi.com/

 

 

Top 10 EPs of 2017

 

1. Mastodon – Cold Dark Place

http://www.mastodonrocks.com/

 

2. Howling Giant – Black Space Wizard Part 2

https://howlinggiant.bandcamp.com/album/black-hole-space-wizard-part-2

 

3. Kal-EL – Astrodoomeda

http://www.argonautarecords.com/shop/en/music-/235-kal-el-astrodoomeda-lp.html

 

4. Cachemira – Jungla

https://cachemira.bandcamp.com/album/jungla-2

 

5. Derelics – Guilty of Being Young

https://derelics.bandcamp.com/album/guilty-of-being-young

 

6. Bad Monster Black – Diablo

https://badmonsterblack.bandcamp.com/album/diablo-ep

 

7. MAIRA – EP

https://maira.bandcamp.com/album/ep

 

8. Traffic Death – Dead End

https://sumppumprecords.bandcamp.com/album/dead-end

 

9. 1968 – 1968 EP

https://1968band.bandcamp.com/releases

 

10. Norea – Norea

https://norea.bandcamp.com/


Andy Beresky’s Top 20 Albums of 2017 + Tip of the Cap + Disappointments + Links…

Andy “Dinger” Beresky’s Top 20 Albums, Honorable Mentions

& Biggest Disappointments of 2017

 

1. The War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding

https://www.amazon.com/Deeper-Understanding-War-Drugs/dp/B072PT2R5P/ref=ice_ac_b_dpb?ie=UTF8&qid=1514561259&sr=8-1&keywords=the+war+on+drugs+a+deeper+understanding+vinyl

 

2. Slowdive – Slowdive

https://www.amazon.com/Slowdive/dp/B06XWNBCXG/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1514561338&sr=1-1&keywords=slowdive

 

3. Quicksand – Interiors

https://quicksandnyc.bandcamp.com/album/interiors

 

4. Converge – The Dusk In Us

https://convergecult.bandcamp.com/album/the-dusk-in-us

 

5. Pallbearer – Heartless

https://profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com/album/heartless

 

6. Elder – Reflections Of A Floating World

https://beholdtheelder.bandcamp.com/album/reflections-of-a-floating-world

 

7. Father John Misty – Pure Comedy

https://fatherjohnmisty.bandcamp.com/album/pure-comedy

 

8. Junius – Eternal Rituals for the Accretion Of Light

https://junius-official.bandcamp.com/album/eternal-rituals-for-the-accretion-of-light

 

9. Unearthly Trance – Stalking The Ghost

https://unearthlytrance.bandcamp.com/album/stalking-the-ghost

 

10. Queens Of The Stone Age – Villains

https://www.amazon.com/Villains-Queens-Stone-Age/dp/B071G99QQ2/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1514562030&sr=1-1&keywords=queens+of+the+stone+age+villains

 

11. The National – Sleep Well Beast

https://www.amazon.com/Sleep-Well-Beast-National/dp/B0716RP8ZH/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1514562142&sr=1-1&keywords=the+national+sleep+well+beast

 

12. Electric Wizard – Wizard Bloody Wizard

http://www.electricfuckinwizard.com/

 

13. Mastodon – Emperor Of Sand

http://www.mastodonrocks.com/

 

14. Telekinetic Yeti – Abominable

https://telekineticyeti.bandcamp.com/album/abominable

 

15. Ruby The Hatchet – Planetary Space Child

https://thehatchet.bandcamp.com/album/planetary-space-child

 

16. Kadavar – Troubled Times

http://kadavar.com/

 

17. Pink Frost – New Minds

https://pinkfrost.bandcamp.com/album/new-minds

 

18. OHHMS – The Fool

https://ohhms.bandcamp.com/album/the-fool

 

19. Ufomammut – 8

https://ufomammut.bandcamp.com/album/8-2

 

20. Mogwai – Every Country’s Sun

https://temporaryresidence.bandcamp.com/album/every-countrys-sun

 

Honorable mentions:

Vokonis – The Sunken Djinn (Nice take on Sleep inspired stoner doom with a more stripped down edge)

https://vokonis.bandcamp.com/album/the-sunken-djinn

 

Monolord – Rust (A definite step towards a more original sound)

https://monolord.bandcamp.com/

 

Poseidon – Prologue (Nice take on YOB inspired doom metal)

https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/prologue

 

Primitive Man – Caustic (This is some righteous sludge, duder)

https://primitivemandoom.bandcamp.com/album/caustic

 

Kal-El – Astrodoomeda  (Very promising stoner doom, next time, leave off the Kyuss cover!!! Sweet Lucifer His Dark Majesty, just NO!!!!)

http://www.kal-el.no/

 

Disasteroid – Screen (Haven’t had the time for a full review and super critical listening, as I got it late in the year. Promising, inventful, and deserves a mention for certain.)

https://disastroid.bandcamp.com/

 

Biggest Disappointments:

Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper ( Really? Really????  This is what everyone is going so ga-ga about? This????)

https://bellwitch.bandcamp.com/album/mirror-reaper

At The Drive In – in•ter a•li•a  (You guys may want to take a listen to those new Slowdive and Quicksand albums, and use them as references for how to produce a proper comeback album)
https://www.atthedriveinofficialmerch.com/

Fleet Foxes – Crack-up (Yeah….this is pretty underwhelming for a comeback album as well, especially given the vitality of their earlier output)
http://fleetfoxes.co/crack-up

Also pretty surprised that Ufomammut made a decent album and didn’t end up on here, as I generally reserve them a spot under Biggest Disappointments.  Their latest did not disappoint me.


Zachary “+Norway+” Turner’s Top 25 Album of 2017 + Links…

Zachary “+Norway+” Turner’s Top 25 Albums of 2017

 

In No Particular Order…

 

Hobosexual – Monolith  (Kitchentable)
(https://hobosexualmusic.bandcamp.com/album/monolith)

 

Mastodon – Cold Dark Place (Reprise Records)
(https://www.amazon.com/Cold-Dark-Place-Mastodon/dp/B074TZZLBD)

 

Björk – Utopia – (One Little Indian Records)
(https://www.amazon.com/Utopia-Bj%C3%B6rk/dp/B076V9PBST)

 

Roger Waters – Is This the Life We Really Want? – (Columbia)
(https://www.amazon.com/This-Life-We-Really-Want/dp/B06Y4BX6FS)

 

Blondie – Pollinator  (noble id/BMG Rights Management)
(https://www.amazon.com/Pollinator-Blondie/dp/B01N9Y1DJE)

 

Evanescence – Synthesis (BMG Rights Management) 
(https://www.amazon.com/Synthesis-Evanescence/dp/B075NWMP2F)

 

Ninja Sex Party – Under the Covers Volume II  (Ninja Sex Party)
(https://ninjasexparty.bandcamp.com/album/under-the-covers-volume-ii)

 

Superfruit – Future Friends (RCA)
(https://www.amazon.com/Future-Friends-Superfruit/dp/B074M779LF)

 

Marilyn Manson – Heaven Upside Down (Loma Vista)
(https://www.amazon.com/Heaven-Upside-Explicit-Marilyn-Manson/dp/B0757CYN8Q/ref=tmm_msc_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=)

 

Mogwai – Every Country’s Sun (Temporary Residence Limited)
(https://temporaryresidence.bandcamp.com/album/every-countrys-sun)

 

Hobo Magic – The World Today (Self Released)
(https://hobomagic.bandcamp.com/album/the-world-today)

 

Thee Oh Sees – Orc (Castle Face Records)
(https://www.amazon.com/Orc-THEE-OH-SEES/dp/B072QRNSV5)

 

The Flaming Lips – Oczy Mlody  (Warner Bros.)
(https://www.amazon.com/Oczy-Mlody-Explicit-Flaming-Lips/dp/B01M675GO7)

 

Electric Wizard – Wizard Bloody Wizard (Spinefarm Records)
(https://www.amazon.com/Wizard-Bloody-Electric/dp/B074V3HV2F/ref=tmm_msc_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=)

 

David Bowie – No Plan EP – (ISO)
(https://www.amazon.com/No-Plan-EP-David-Bowie/dp/B01N4WCEZN)

 

ELARA – Deli Bal – PsyKA Records
(https://psyka.bandcamp.com/album/deli-bal)

 

FrankJavCee – Vol 2.111 – Self Release
(https://frankjavcee.bandcamp.com/album/frankjavcee-vol-2111)

 

Earth Drive – Stellar Drone (Raging Planet)
(https://earthdrive.bandcamp.com/album/stellar-drone)

 

Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life (Interscope Records)
(https://www.amazon.com/Lust-Life-Lana-Del-Rey/dp/B072K3PSH6)

 

Neil Cicierega – Mouth Moods (Self Released)
(http://www.neilcic.com/mouthmoods/)

 

Steven Wilson – To the Bone (Caroline Records)
(https://www.amazon.com/Bone-Steven-Wilson/dp/B071L1B6V4/ref=tmm_msc_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1513703047&sr=8-1)

 

Tupperware Remix Party – Ladyworld  (Self Released)
(https://twrp.bandcamp.com/album/ladyworld)

 

nmesh – Pharma (Orange Milk Records)
(https://nmesh.bandcamp.com/album/pharma)

 

Jazz Spastiks – Scratch and Sniff – (Self Released)
(https://jazzspastiks.bandcamp.com/album/scratch-and-sniff)
(https://jazzspastiks.bandcamp.com/album/scratch-sniff-instrumentals)


Writer Eric Layhe Top 25 Albums of 2017 + Links…

Eric Layhe Top 25 Albums of 2017

 

1. Caligula’s Horse – In Contact (Inside Out Records)
https://caligulas-horse.backstreetmerch.com/

 

2. Pain Of Salvation – In The Passing Light Of Day (Inside Out Records)
http://painofsalvation.com/

 

3. KXM – Scatterbrain (Rat Pak Records)
https://kxmmusic.bandcamp.com/releases

 

4. In The Presence of Wolves – Of Two Minds – Stages 1 & 2 – The Ape And The Cage (Self-released)
https://inthepresenceofwolves.bandcamp.com/

 

5. The Burden Remains and The Horns Of The Seventh Seal – Touchstone (Self-released)
https://coldsmokerecording.bandcamp.com/album/touchstone

 

6. Icefish – Human Hardware (Self-released)
http://www.icefishband.com/

 

7. Pallbearer – Heartless (Profound Lore Records)
https://profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com/album/heartless

 

8. Toehider – “GOOD.” (Birds Robe Records)
https://toehider.bandcamp.com/album/good

 

9. Nothing More – The Stories We Tell Ourselves (Eleven Seven)
http://nothingmore.net/

 

10. Mother Mars – On Lunar Highlands (Pepper Shaker Records)
https://mothermars.bandcamp.com/

 

11. Ayreon – The Source (Mascot Label Group)
http://www.arjenlucassen.com/content/

 

12. Sons Of Apollo – Psychotic Symphony (Inside Out Records)
http://www.sonsofapollo.com/

 

13. Others By No One – Book I: Dr. Breacher (Self-released)
https://othersbynoone.bandcamp.com/

 

14. Sons of Texas – Forged By Fortitude (Razor & Tie)
http://www.sonsoftexasmusic.com/

 

15. Ne Obliviscaris – Urn (Season of Mist)
https://neobliviscarissom.bandcamp.com/album/urn

 

16. Starset – Vessels (Razor & Tie)
https://merch.starsetonline.com/

 

17. Subterranean Masquerade – Vagabond (ViciSolum Records)
http://vicisolumrecords.com/album/vagabond

 

18. Leprous – Malina (Inside Out Records)
https://www.omerch.eu/shop/leprous/

 

19. Trivium – The Sin And The Sentence (Roadrunner Records)
http://store.trivium.org/

 

20. Voyager – Ghost Mile (IAV Records)
https://www.discogs.com/artist/2684097-Voyager-30

 

21. Mastodon – Emperor of Sand (Reprise Records)
http://www.mastodonrocks.com/

 

22. Alice Cooper – Paranormal (EarMusic)
http://www.alicecooper.com/shop/

 

23. Steven Wilson – To The Bone (Caroline Records)
http://www.stevenwilsonhq.com/

 

24. Big Wreck – Grace Street (ole)
https://www.bigwreckstore.com/big-wreck/music-295/big-wreck-grace-street-cd.html

 

25. 10 Years – (how to live) AS GHOSTS (Mascot Label Group)
http://10yearsmusic.com/site/


“The Ancient One’s” Top 25 of 2017…

Terry “The Ancient One” Cuyler’s
25 best albums of 2017

 

  1. Kadavar- Rough Times

http://www.nuclearblast.com/en/music/band/discography/details/4798138.2893136.rough-times.html

 

  1. Tau Cross – Pillar of Fire

https://taucross.bandcamp.com/

 

  1. PILLORIAN – Obsidian Arc

https://pillorian.bandcamp.com/album/obsidian-arc

 

  1. The Flight Of Sleipnir – Skadi

https://theflightofsleipnir.bandcamp.com/album/skadi

 

  1. Clouds Taste Satanic-The Glitter of Infinite Hell

https://cloudstastesatanic.bandcamp.com/album/the-glitter-of-infinite-hell

 

  1. Arcadea-Arcadea

https://arcadea.bandcamp.com/album/arcadea

 

  1. Mage- Green

https://mage.bandcamp.com/album/green

 

  1. Stone Lotus-Comastone

https://mage.bandcamp.com/album/green

 

  1. Thorr-Axe / Archarus-The Hobbit Split-Album

https://thorr-axe.bandcamp.com/album/thorr-axe-archarus-the-hobbit-split

 

  1. KAL-EL-Astrodoomeda

http://www.argonautarecords.com/shop/en/music-/214-kal-el-astrodoomeda-cd.html?search_query=kaL_EL&results=6

 

  1. Lich King-The Omniclasm

http://music.lichkingmetal.com/album/the-omniclasm

 

  1. Trivium-The Sin And The Sentence

http://www.trivium.org/

 

  1. Vokonis-The Sunken Djinn

https://vokonis.bandcamp.com/album/the-sunken-djinn

 

  1. Psy:code-MØRKE

https://psycode.bandcamp.com/

 

  1. Red Moon Architect-Return Of The Black Butterflies

http://bit.ly/2pU6a6l

 

  1. Temple of Void-Lords of Death

https://templeofvoid.bandcamp.com/album/lords-of-death

 

  1. Paradise Lost-Medusa

https://paradiselost2.bandcamp.com/releases

 

  1. Overkill-The Grinding Wheel

https://media.nuclearblast.de/shoplanding/2017/Overkill/the-grinding-wheel.html

 

  1. Nekromant-Snakes & Liars

https://nekromant.bandcamp.com/album/snakes-liars

 

  1. Electric Wizard-Wizard Bloody Wizard Bloody Wizard

http://www.electricfuckinwizard.com/

 

  1. Devil Electric-Devil Electric

https://devilelectric.bandcamp.com/album/devil-electric

 

  1. The Black Capes-All These Monsters

https://darktunes.bandcamp.com/album/all-these-monsters

 

  1. Mastodon-Cold Dark Place

http://www.mastodonrocks.com/

 

  1. RUBY THE HATCHET-PLANETARY SPACE CHILD

https://thehatchet.bandcamp.com/album/planetary-space-child

 

  1. The Necromancers-Servants of the Salem Girl

https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/servants-of-the-salem-girl

 


Mastodon “Emperor Of Sand” – Album Review & Videos…

Mastodon

Emperor Of Sand – Vinyl // CD // DD

Reprise Records – Released March 31st, 2017

Reviewed By Andy “Dinger” Beresky

  

Mastodon have a long and rather complicated history, and it’s been a real treat to witness their constant and unpredictable evolution first hand.  I’ll be totally frank here – I got on board with Remission and saw them support High On Fire live in Boston on that tour.  Excellent drumming first and foremost, good riffs, and a sweet live show, I’ll give them that.  Yet I was never totally on board.  As much as some people love to tout that album as some sort of high point for the band, I see it as a fledgling band flexing their muscles, yet still looking for a focus.  Sure, the drumming is nothing short of astounding, practically a non-stop jazz drum fill by modern legend Brann Daylor.  The guitar interplay was equally impressive, mixing devastating down-tuned riffing with complicated, labyrinthine passages of dueling melodies and harmonies.  Still, for me, much of it sounded one dimensional.  A constant drum fill gets old when it doesn’t have enough groove to offset it, the vocals were largely mono-tonal, and the songwriting didn’t always stick for me.  An impressive debut for sure, and for all the listens I’ve given that album, I can only remember how two songs on the album actually go.  It lacked hooks for me, it just wasn’t catchy enough.

 

Promo Image

 

That’s where Leviathan came in, where the band was able to balance the drumming, work some melody into the vocals, and hone the songwriting to mix their more proggy elements with legitimately catchy choruses.  Looking back, I like this album best, as do many other fans.  It was a rough road ahead from there, filled with major label contracts, near ceaseless touring, and more experimentation in the songwriting department.  Blood Mountain had its moments, though it lacked coherency and was generally all over the place.  Despite this, it earned them new fans and brought their music to a larger crowd.  This brings us up to Crack The Skye, a rather contentious album in their catalog, especially for me.  I will state up front, I do not like Brendan O’Brien as a producer.  He has a tendency to take guitar-heavy bands and totally neuter the guitars in favor of a radio-friendly wax job.  Do you remember the vast contrast between Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger and Superunknown??  Sure, both are great albums with great songs, though listen to the difference in how the guitars sound, and where they are in the mix.

O’Brien did the same thing with Mastodon, and I initially didn’t like Cracke The Sky.  I saw them on this tour.  Live, it came across much more powerfully; it was thick and commanding.  Guitarist/singer Brent Hines was sighted pissing on parked cars outside of Fenway Park afterwards, so you know that he felt good about the performance.  I’m digressing a bit.  My point is that the material was strong, the concept was there, and though they’d incorporate more melodies and even fairly impressive three part harmonies into the overall fold, I don’t think the vocals were strong enough to be placed that far in the forefront of the mix….which is exactly what O’Brien does.  However, I have to hand it to O’Brien on Emperor Of Sand – there’s a nice balance to the harmonized vocals and the weighty guitars, they’ve still got some rawness and bite.

At this point, I’m kind of at a loss as to what to write, and more importantly, what not to write about Mastodon.  I’ve had a long personal history with the band, having seen them multiple times, sometimes good and sometimes not.  I’ve played with them, which was….special.  I have heard stories from mutual acquaintances that have toured with them.  There’s plenty of personal anecdotes I could write about that would paint them in a rather unflattering light, and as interesting as that would be, as we love to watch train wrecks here in the United States, thus our current political makeup.  I could write 100 pages on the things I’ve witnessed and the things I’ve heard about the band.  However, do I really need to go there and be an asshole??  No.  That’s one of the other problems with our current political makeup – where is the line between “free speech” and just being a disrespectful asshole?? Most of us know by now that Brent Hinds is a total wildman who says and does some crazy pants things, and the other members of the band have had their own struggles.  Let’s just focus on the struggles that are relevant to the music itself rather than the gossip, shall we?

I think the most important struggles have been how the members of Mastodon have processed deaths of family members.  This is the second death of a loved one that has led to a concept album, with the first being Crack The Skye.  To me, that’s what art is really about, and I’ll give them all sorts of kudos for channeling that kind of sadness and loss into creative, poignant and powerful works of art that explore the nature of being an authentic human.  Emperor Of Sand indeed has an intriguing concept, though I’d need many, many more listens with it to fully unravel the meanings and personal connections.  For the record, I’ve already listened to the album more than thirty times.  It’s very dense conceptually, in terms of both the music itself and the lyrical content.

 

Pro band Shot

 

Another thing I really like about the album is how it combines the rock oriented songwriting of their two prior albums with the conceptual and progressive tendencies of their earlier works.  The album is really top-loaded with the more straightforward, catchy tunes like “Show Yourself”, which almost sounds like a Queens Of The Stone Age outtake from Songs For The Deaf.  The first few songs are definitely the rockers, while as the album deepens, the more progressive elements begin to dominate – the synthesizers, the odd time signatures, the mathy riffs, and the epic finale “Jaguar God.”  I like this a lot about the album, how its paced and structured.  There are a few things that I do not like.  I’m feeling annoyed about their continued reliance on guest musicians, especially how it feels like they over-utilize Scott Kelly.  I love Neurosis and all, and seriously….does he have to be a guest on EVERY album??  It’s become quite an old shtick at this point.

Much like everything the band has done, this isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea.  It’s sometimes tough for an established and successful band to do so.  Fans always want to hear something “more like the old stuff”, and yet, when a band just regurgitates the same album over and over, fans tend to tire of that as well.  It’s like Bob Marley said, “you can please some people sometimes, but you can’t please all the people all the time.”  Quoted for truth.  I tend to respect artists like David Bowie, Lou Reed, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Smashing Pumpkins, artists who deliberately try to redefine themselves with each recording.  I think that the most important people one can please with a release is themselves, accomplish that and the rest will follow.