February 27, 2006

CD Review: Mastodon - Call of the Mastodon

Just in time for the release of The Workhorse Chronicles DVD, comes this remastered dosage of early Mastodon tracks. This is serving as my reintroduction to the band whom I saw live once, and very much liked, and listened to one of their CDs once, which didn't really grab me. It is really hard to ignore the extremely positive word that has surrounded the band over the past few years.

Anyway, I took the disk, slipped it into the deck and was immediately enveloped in a world of extreme heaviness. A sound takes the very definition of heavy music and mutates it into this beast of monstrous proportions. This is the kind of music that giant monsters would demolish a city to. Solid, chugging, incessant, a think wall of sound that strikes like a tidal wave and leaves you exhausted and drained in its wake. Call of the Mastodon compiles the earliest recordings of what would become Mastodon, and it has greatly reignited my interest in the band.

The disk opens with "Shadows that Move," which features a sonic explosion of guitar and drums, with an incomprehensible growl of lyrics blending in the cacophony. That is followed by another explosion with "Welcoming War," which takes the initial intensity and furthers it even more as it kicks up the speed to incredible heights. The third track, "Thank You for This," takes it down a few notches and introduces a slower, sludge laden side of the sound.

"We Built This Come Death" furthers the evolution of Mastodon, melding slowed down riffs with the speed and fury which had come early, creating one of the best and interestingly structured tracks on the disk. Next is "Hail to Fire" which eschews the structures developed previously in favor of a more straight forward track, straight forward for them anyway, lightning quick drumfire combine with the steady rhythms. Changing things up is "Battle at Sea," which shows more interesting structural builds, with the very quiet introduction, adding layers of sound in stages, creating a slow burn effect and in turn, one of the more interesting and effective concoctions of new wave heaviness.

Leading us into the home stretch is "Deep Sea Creature," one of the earliest recordings, which is best described as structured noise, it shows signs of what is to come, early stages of the taming of the beast. That leads into "Slickleg," another experimental outing with Slayer-like overtones, and the beginnings of the Mastodon sound beginning to emerge. Closing out the album is "Call of the Mastodon," a signature track, heavy riffs, maniacal drumming, and raw bellows taking form as a wall of sludge poised to cover anyone who dare listen.

The Mastodon experience packed into this half hour long album is awe inspiring. Combine this with excellent Workhorse Chronicles, and you have yourself a recipe for the new wave of heavy. Mastodon is destined to leave a bloody mark on metal timeline, where the redefinition of heavy began. There is no other band that sounds quite like this. They may not contain the crisp technical precision that I am usually attracted to, but there is something magnetic and mesmerizing in this music.

Recommended. *** / *****

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