Mastodon have appeared to hit a commercial high in their career, appearing on well known TV music shows to high up on festival bills. It’s fantastic to see how far they’ve blossomed whilst keeping their artistic personality since EP Lifesblood.
One thing that stands out on this album is that Mastodon have become very distant to their original ear-crushing roots. All bands grow but some bands grow bland and Once More ‘Round The Sun feels like Mastodons most radio friendly record yet. I’m sure if I played this to my grandparents even they’d agree the spark has somewhere gone amiss. Although it still feels typically Mastodon and still carries their own intricate style where guitars bounce off each other in a grand harmony. I could easily listen to their glorious riffs all day.
Unfortunately the album still feels like it’s ugly baby brother compared to previous album The Hunter. Vocals start out soft and soothing, it’s pretty straightforward and become lost on earlier tracks. The album does become somewhat darker later on with stand out track Aunt Lisa where vocals become ear-popping, which are then followed by guest vocals from female punk band The Coathangers, “Hey! Ho! Let’s get up and rock and roll”, lets.
The latter half of the album feels more powerful, noteworthy and tracks feel expressive. The only thing really pushing this album is the instrumental parts and guitar hooks, although it still lacks the energy earlier records provided and it doesn’t quite feel as ear-crushing as it should be (this is Mastodon after all), it’s still exceptional. One thing they do well is the flow of the album, it doesn’t feel too long and for once aren’t burdened with making a concept album.
Once More ‘Round The Sun is Mastodon’s most approachable record and will gain some new fans but for older ones like myself it just widens the gap between what we first grew to love about them, what really gave them that unique edge and what made running around like idiots at their gigs fun.