Over the past 14 years, Mastodon have found a niche for themselves with their own brand of progressive metal and have spent many years perfecting it. With Once More Round The Sun, they have taken the more accessible sound of 2011’s The Hunter and expanded on it, adding in the usual heavy, intricate guitar riffs and looping drum rolls to define their sound like never before.
One of the most striking aspects of the album is that every band member undertakes singing duties at some point. Drummer Brann Dailor’s soft and more melodic vocals are utilized like never before on songs like ‘Asleep In The Deep’ and ‘The Motherload’, the latter easily being their most accessible track to date because of his inclusion. It is rare for metal bands to make recording the vocal tracks a group effort, but it is one of the aspects that make this album a more refreshing and interesting listen. It is because of the different tones and voices that they now have more of a complete sound than just one man and a band.
‘Chimes At Midnight’ perfectly encapsulates the sound of their first three albums, while discarding their older style for something that sounds a lot less scattered than before. It’s clear they have not just progressed as musicians but as songwriters also. Each individual brings something different to the writing process to create such a unique and distinctive sound. They also show a willingness to poke fun at themselves on ‘Aunt Lisa’ with the chant, “Hey, Ho! Let’s get up and rock ‘n roll”. It is the exact type of light hearted fun you would expect from a band who featured in Adult Swim’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie as different types of confectionary.
With four solid albums already under their belt, they have provided another hour of essential listening that may sound more simplified than before but only goes to further the fact they can seemingly do no wrong. They are expanding musically with every release and the more mainstream appeal they have undertaken for this record definitely worked in their favour and has done so without sacrificing their artistic integrity in any way. A rare achievement.