It’s come that time again, folks. I’ve crawled out from under my rock to hurl incoherent abuse at another poor old metal band who’ve committed the cardinal sin of doing something different. So what have they done to get me riled up enough to pull my shit encrusted fingers from my battered ringpiece & bother my keyboard? Wearing the wrong shoes? Not knowing the correct dance moves to Warriors of the World? Have an incomplete 180gm vinyl discography of Manilla Road? Let’s find out, shall we?
We start off promisingly enough with the lumbering riffs of Black Tongue which are the closest they’ve come yet to recapturing the magic of Leviathan. A sudden change of pace shatters my hopes for another bowel-bothering classic however with the radio-friendly pop metal offering, Curl of the Burl. Sounding like a particularly dull Queens of the Stone Age, I’d rather eat a bag of dicks than sit through it again. Blasteroid carefully binds a great song & a shit song together like some sort of demented caduceus where one of the snakes is a stringy, anaemic turd. It’s yet another case of hits & misses for Atlanta’s beardiest. The same issue they’ve struggled with on the mostly great Blood Mountain & fairly average Crack The Skye.
The first half of Creature Lives was done by Pink Floyd in 79 & the second half originally performed as a camp fire sing-a-long by the recently lobotomised. Luckily the fantastic, crushing Spectrelight (Scott Kelly <3) harks back to the heady days of Blood Mountain & warms my cold dead heart for a few minutes. Things slump again on the bizarre Bedazzled Fingernails before fizzling out as The Sparrow meanders through Cynic territory. For a few moments, it threatens to nail it’s colours to the mast of progressive techdeath before wimping out & leaving a faint smell of urine in it’s trail.
The hiring of Mike Elizondo to produce The Hunter is as inexplicable as Bob Rock’s Metallica accidents & with production credits including Snoop Dogg & Natasha Bedingfield, he’s clearly the man for the job. The end result is far too clinical for a band of Mastodon’s sludgey roots. Then again, the guy’s played bass for Sheryl Crow. Top that, Matt Bayles.
It’s not a bad album. I don’t think Mastodon have it in them to release a bad album but what it is is overproduced, incoherent & fucking boring. Barring the opener & Spectrelight, there wasn’t one minute that I wasn’t wondering if I’d left the fridge open or locked the cat in the bathroom again. A second misstep from one of the only interesting metal bands to achieve mainstream recognition in the past decade. If Remission was their Ride The Lighting & Leviathan their Master of Puppets, then The Hunter is the Black Album. You’ll excuse me if I skip their Reload but I don’t think I’ve buggered enough orphans yet to deserve that specific form of aural molestation.