Mastodon Once More 'Round The Sun

2014 Reprise

Worth The Round Trip.

Mastodon - Once More 'Round The Sun


Consistency is a good starting point when trying to sum up what Mastodon have concocted on their sixth full-length album, “Once More ‘Round The Sun“. After a series of heady concepts and psychedelic exploration that was ultimately scaled back, it feels like they’ve finally found their defining voice. The flesh and tissue has returned and having lived on both sides of excess, they’ve come to know their happy medium.

There’s a definitive vintage air present in the rhythm section on this effort. The way the drums possess an earthy warmth and the jagged bass chisels away underneath the guitars is paramount. There also seems to be a more unified approach to the vocals with sustained bouts of doubling up the choruses and various refrains together.

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True, vocal aggression has long given way to melody and it’s no surprise that the band have moved away from screaming (of their own at least.) But there are still a plethora of beastly riffs on display, with “Chimes At Midnight” in particular likely to be a highlight for those hoping for a bit more ‘blood and thunder’ in their life.

If one song were to sum up the album however it would fittingly be the title track. It is that cut which hews close to a band whose influence has long been felt throughout Mastodon‘s discography. That outfit of course being Thin Lizzy, with more than a few components of it bringing to mind a hulking caricature of Dublin’s finest rock export. Ultimately, the classic rock element found on that song is a quality that permeates the album en masse.

There’s countless bombastic solos (“The Motherload“, “Halloween“, etc.) that scream 70’s showmanship and flair. Likewise, a robust suite of effects ensures that there’s always an enthralling glaze coating the bustling rhythm section. It’s not all some mere nostalgia trip though.

The wiry pep and ghostly processed vocals of “The Motherload” boast one of the bands most endearing (and quite possibly catchiest) choruses in ages. It’s an intricate endeavor that represents their rock-solid amalgam of classic rock boogie, proggy guitar-driven entanglement and ambitious vocal trade-off’s. The riffs alone sound like a guitar string Ouroboros effigy. But beyond all that it’s also a great display of just how comfortable these fellows have become at entwining paralyzing dense songwriting with upliftingly beautiful melodies.

All-girl outfit The Coathangers take home the honor for most creative cameo on the effort. Their appearance on drummer/vocalist Brann Dailor‘s convulsive tribute to his late aunt on “Aunt Lisa” is laced with screams and a cheer squad-styled section that draws mild parallels to Faith No More‘s “Be Aggressive“. Their unexpected take edges out NeurosisScott Kelly‘s monolithic appearance on “Diamond In The Witch House“—a lumbering near 8-minute sprawl that traipses through bleaker climates.

If there’s one thing that Mastodon have done continuously throughout their career it would be evolve. “Once More ‘Round The Sun” may find some fans continue to lament the groups maturation from their Paleolithic beginnings—even though it houses some of their most opaque and gnarled offerings to date. But its strength doesn’t lie in appealing to any potential segregation of the bands fanbase. Where this album succeeds is its resolute viscosity. For all the curveballs and harmonic ambition introduced, the thick, sinewy core remains undeniably Mastodon.