Leviathan (2004), Blood Mountain (2006) and Crack the Skye (2009) are amongst my favourite albums of any artist. Until recently Mastodon was one of the few bands whose complete back catalogue I had on my mobile phone (I use it as my mp3 player, ever since my SanDisk mp3 player died… it has about 16GB more space on it too).
You could say that I like Mastodon.
Do you want to know my secrets?
My cousin Alan says about their albums that they don’t reveal all their secrets in the first few listens. That’s my experience too: you have to listen to them again and again, get inside them, live with them for a while.
So it was with some disappointment that I’ve struggled with their latest album The Hunter. I’ve listened to it again and again but there was just something about that collection of songs that didn’t sit with me.
Certainly, many of the previous albums have concepts that hold them together. Leviathan (2004) is about obsession, based loosely on Herman Melville’s novel of 1851 Moby-Dick. Blood Mountain (2006), according to bassist Troy Sanders, is about “climbing up a mountain and the different things that can happen to you when you’re stranded on a mountain, in the woods, and you’re lost. You’re starving, hallucinating, running into strange creatures. You’re being hunted. It’s about that whole struggle.” Crack the Skye (2009) is about an out-of-body experience, exploring the concepts of astral travel, wormholes.
The Hunter (2011) has no concept, other than the stripped back, less-progressive, riff-oriented approach that the band took when writing the album. I wondered if it was this that was standing in my way to enjoying the album.
Blasteroid into another space
This afternoon I finally figured out what it was about the album that I just wasn’t getting: it’s track #3 ‘Blasteroid’. I think it’s in the wrong place on the album.
To me it doesn’t belong after ‘Curl of the Burl’. ‘Curl…’ has a happy-go-lucky bounce but then ‘Blasteroid’ smacks you in the face, like a lump of concrete. Only then to be followed with the slower-paced, tripped-out ‘Stargasm’. To my ear it significantly interrupts the flow of the album.
I think ‘Blasteroid’ fits far better at the other end of the album, say between ‘Bedazzled Fingernails’ and ‘The Sparrow’. ‘Blasteroid’ kicks off with the energy of ‘Bedazzled…’ and ends with the gentleness of ‘The Sparrow’.
I’m going to create another version of this album on my PC that has that running order and see if I’m right.