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'The Hunter'
Jeff Kent

jeff kent

arch matheos sympathetic resonance

Metal fans are very possessive. They think of bands as 'theirs.' Very often (though they may not admit it) part of the reason they like a band is simply because no one else does. So what happens when a band becomes popular? What happens when they move from the underground indie label to the big swanky major label? What happens when they stop playing small clubs where they hang out with fans and start playing arenas with security?

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While Mastodon may not be a household name, they certainly have come a long way since their humble beginnings. A few years ago they moved from Relapse to Reprise and opened up to a whole new audience. The vocals got a little cleaner and the music a little more polished. Sure it was still heavy and in some cases even more complex, but some of that special feeling had worn off.

Metal is about freedom, about not conforming, about not being played on the radio. So shouldn't a band have the freedom to make the music they want and hope their fans, both new and old like it?

'The Hunter' may not be as big a change for Mastodon as Heritage is for Opeth, but you can't deny that they've been progressing ever since the change to the major label. 'Black Tongue' doesn't break any new ground right of the bat. There's typical bombast and precision drumming, but there seems to be a concerted effort to sing in a more…palatable way.

'Curl of the Burl' has what might be called a sing along chorus, something unthinkable during the 'Remission' era of the band. I might even go so far as to call it radio friendly. Still heavy, still a great tune, still Mastodon.

'Blasteroid' is one of those songs that makes you want to drive faster the louder you play it. It's also the second song in a row that features 'whoa ohhh' vocals, but it's ok because they're paired with some old school raw screaming if only for a line or two.

In the running for song title of the year we have 'Stargasm'. It has an extra terrestrial quality that's suggested by the title. With every Mastodon album I have to listen a few times to take it all in. Hell, I have to listen once just to try and keep track of all of the amazing drum fills. No shortage of them here.

OK did I say 'Stargasm' was a great title? How about 'Octopus Has No Friends?' Brilliant and it brings us back to the nautical themes of 'Leviathan'. This is also a song that I wouldn't be surprised to hear on the radio. The songs on 'The Hunter' are all very dense, thick if you will. The cleaner singing has opened them up a little, but there's still a lot going on instrumentally.

The title track has the makings of an epic Mastodon storyline song, but opts for a break from the mayhem instead. Shimmering guitars evoke tye-dyed light showing swirling smoke billowing off the stage. Grab your lighters when they play this live... or do that annoying thing where you hold up your cell phone light... what the fuck is that all about? Cell phones are not Metal. Fire is Metal. Arguments have been made for an against guitar solos in Metal today but I love a good slow burn solo like the one here.

'Dry Bone Valley' struck me as the most un Mastodon sounding song the first time I played the album; maybe it's just Brann's vocals that cut through better. Is 'Thickening' about getting wider or is it a sign of displeasure from Sylvester the Cat? I guess we'll never know. I certainly can't figure it out.

'Creature Lives' is a Lovecraftian romp through the sci-fi terror realms…why do they keep playing the THX music in the intro? OK, it finally stopped, phew. Here's another example of the vocals throwing a curveball. It seems to be such a matter of fact song about a swamp creature; strange.

'Spectrelight' is a good old-fashioned Mastodon tune and the closest thing to the old vocal style on the album. It also features a guest spot by Neurosis guitarist Scott Kelly.

'Bedazzled Fingernails' - OK, let's just say Mastodon wins the song title contest for 2011. I love the slower Mastodon tunes like the album closer 'The Sparrow'. A great way to end a great record.

Overall, 'The Hunter' lacks the narrative of 'Crack The Skye', but that just allows each tune to stand on its own.




Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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