Mastodon - Emperor Of Sand review



Reviewer:
5.9

216 users:
7.94
Band: Mastodon
Album: Emperor Of Sand
Release date: March 2017


01. Sultan's Curse
02. Show Yourself
03. Precious Stones
04. Steambreather
05. Roots Remain
06. Word To The Wise
07. Ancient Kingdom
08. Clandestiny
09. Andromeda
10. Scorpion Breath
11. Jaguar God


Emperor Of Sand follows after Once More 'Round The Sun and The Hunter before it as a mixture of streamlined hard rock and periodic bursts of classic Mastodon fury, with a psychedelic alt-rock haze seeping into a few riffs. As with any Mastodon album, Emperor Of Sand houses some inspired musicianship now and then, especially from Brann Dailor, but in keeping with the band's recent trend, the album centers around less kinetic displays and aims for commercial heaviness.

Clearly Mastodon have been looking for a way to take the multifaceted proggy sludge sound that they helped define into the commercial realms, and while Once More 'Round The Sun hinted that The Hunter did not spell the end of classic and inventive Mastodon, Emperor Of Sand trips back into artless safety. The deadpan vocal delivery and generally unadorned instrumental tracks on "Show Yourself" and "Precious Stones" sound like they're setting up the album to be something that it isn't, or at least shouldn't be: a straightforward, indie-influenced singalong that doesn't go very far and criminally under-utilizes the immense musical talents this band possesses. Taken on their own, "Show Yourself" and "Precious Stones" are some of the least interesting songs in Mastodon's entire catalogue.

A couple of other songs throughout the album ("Ancient Kingdom," for example) fall back into a very standard and unadventurous method of songwriting that can feel disappointing when "Scorpion Breath" and "Steambreather" try so hard to pull the album back into the dynamic, progressive, and just plain impressive territory of Crack The Skye. "Scorpion Breath" even has some moments that sound like blackened stoner, which would be a great new avenue for Mastodon to pursue if they didn't spend so much time trying to strip layers off their sound. The usual bright, jangly guitar riffs and harmonized choruses paint a Mastodon sheen over some otherwise unremarkable, grungy, radio rock tracks, but without the heavy low end, dynamic song structures, and impassioned delivery of past albums, Emperor Of Sand lives up to its name: it's just a little sand castle compared to Blood Mountain.

Emperor Of Sand doesn't have a lot of new ideas; some of those ideas that are new to Mastodon aren't new to the rest of the world. I enjoyed this album a lot at first, but the initial appeal wears off after comparison with the band's older material, and there are only a few songs I could see myself revisiting after giving the album its requisite handful of full playthroughs.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 5
Originality: 5
Production: 7


 



Written on 30.04.2017 by Reviewing since 2010. Reviewing competently since 2013. More metal than you since before the dawn of 'istry.


Comments

Comments: 26   Visited by: 369 users
01.05.2017 - 00:07
RichardPickman
I agree somehow. It is not an album to grow with. The first song sounds a bit like the old days but then... Forgive me, but it feels like Metallica.
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01.05.2017 - 03:16
bloodwrage
Pagan Angel
Thanks for giving a grounded review of this. I saw a few other sites give good reviews to it, and I was left very disappointed after hearing some of the songs.
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01.05.2017 - 14:48
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Whew lad, thanks for giving this one a sensible score, but.... get ready for some butthurt on this thread
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Written by RaduP on 14.01.2016 at 02:08

So you're not actually a bearded shaman opening his third eye through music?
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01.05.2017 - 15:33
Kuroboshi
I gave it a higher rating, but then again I only listened to it twice. Good review. Kind of happy I didn't listen to it more, as my rating probably would have dropped more.
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02.05.2017 - 00:44
nikarg
doktor avalanche
Spot on.
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02.05.2017 - 02:39
Devil Eyes
Harsh man... harsh.

It's no Crack the Skye or Blood Mountain, but ifor me, it's at least a 7.
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02.05.2017 - 13:16
Silent Creeper
Veteran Spammer
The butthurt fanboy I am, I will try to attack your credibility by focusing only on the final rating of the review: You gave this album a 5.9, but you gave Babymetal - Metal Resistance a 9.0 and you gave Lulu from Metallica 7.4. !?!

I apologize for stooping to this level but my fanboyness was hurt.
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02.05.2017 - 14:05
Marcel Hubregtse
Grumpy Old Fuck
Written by Silent Creeper on 02.05.2017 at 13:16

The butthurt fanboy I am, I will try to attack your credibility by focusing only on the final rating of the review: You gave this album a 5.9, but you gave Babymetal - Metal Resistance a 9.0 and you gave Lulu from Metallica 7.4. !?!

I apologize for stooping to this level but my fanboyness was hurt.


And latest Sabaton even higher than that
----
Member of the true crusade against European Flower Metal

Yesterday is dead and gone, tomorrow is out of sight
Dawn Crosby (r.i.p.)
05.04.1963 - 15.12.1996

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02.05.2017 - 14:10
Fallen Ghost
Metalhead
Can't say I agree with this review, Precious Stones is awesome! Oh well, each person with their taste! I fully enjoy this album, I may think this is even better than OMRTS.

And I agree, I just cannot take anyone who gives Babymetal such a ridiculous score seriously..
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02.05.2017 - 15:46
ZOMBIESiTellsYa
Not a bad album by any means but, as you say, definitely does not compare to older albums like Crack the Skye or Leviathan. It seems like Mastodon's best days are behind them. I sensed this when I saw them all the way back in 2011 live and they sucked compared to older footage I'd seen from when the first album came out. Maybe just bad chemistry within the band? Brent Hinds seems very uninterested and is a shitshow live.
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02.05.2017 - 17:52
Unhealer
Eclecticist
While the album doesn't mark Mastodon's return to greatness, I for one am glad that they are doing concept albums again. Unlike The Hunter (which had a lot of standalone great songs) and OMRTS (which had a few standalone great songs), there's something that goes beyond just the music in this one and I can feel the full album listens to be more rewarding.
All that said, yeah, it gets boring at some points and it is a really standard Mastodon album overall. It sits between 7 and 8 for me.
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02.05.2017 - 18:41
BitterCOld
Gringo
Liked it more than SSUSMNT$$$, would score a 7, but need a few more listens. Loved the Sandcastle compared to Blood Mountain bit, though. great wordplay to illustrate the point
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get the fuck off my lawn.
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03.05.2017 - 04:05
flightoficarus
Stamp Tramp
Glad to see another review that isn't just "ermagerd Mastodon album!!!"
----
Daily underground metal recommendations at Metal Trenches.
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03.05.2017 - 05:37
The Galactican
When I saw the score pre-read my initial thought was, "Hey, that seems unfair!"

Then I read your conclusion and said to myself, "Eh, that's totally me too."

While I would give it closer to a 7, I think you're pretty spot on overall. Some good moments on this album, and maybe it would be better were it a composed by a new band without a past to compare against, but that's not the case. It's a Mastodon record; a pretty ho-hum one comparatively speaking.
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03.05.2017 - 08:26
Ace Frawley
The Spaceman
I enjoy this album, probably give it about a 7.7 rating.
----
The sun shines over The Fool...
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03.05.2017 - 09:04
Cynic Metalhead
Atrocious Virgin
Written by flightoficarus on 03.05.2017 at 04:05

Glad to see another review that isn't just "ermagerd Mastodon album!!!"


You meant ermahgerd, right?!
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03.05.2017 - 15:39
Daniell
_爱情_
Written by Silent Creeper on 02.05.2017 at 13:16

You gave this album a 5.9, but you gave Babymetal - Metal Resistance a 9.0 and you gave Lulu from Metallica 7.4. !?!

Those 3 releases are completely different and comparing their rating is pointless.
----
Now loving:
Naglfar - I Am Vengeance
Hour of Penance - Cast the First Stone
Hate - Indestructible Pillar
Depeche Mode - Going Backwards
Flotsam & Jetsam - Forbidden Territories
Immolation - When the Jackals Come
Suffocation - Your Last Breaths
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03.05.2017 - 19:28
Silent Creeper
Veteran Spammer
Written by Daniell on 03.05.2017 at 15:39

Written by Silent Creeper on 02.05.2017 at 13:16

You gave this album a 5.9, but you gave Babymetal - Metal Resistance a 9.0 and you gave Lulu from Metallica 7.4. !?!

Those 3 releases are completely different and comparing their rating is pointless.

Of course they are completely different if you are reffering to the musical style/(sub)genre and I am not comparing that, I am talking about their ratings which are meant to be some sort of standardised way of evaluating an album - therefore the comparison of ratings is possible, no matter the (sub)genre. If this would not be true then for example the whole top 200 albums chart on this site is utterly 'pointless' because it features so many releases that are 'completely different'.
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03.05.2017 - 20:40
flightoficarus
Stamp Tramp
Written by Cynic Metalhead on 03.05.2017 at 09:04

Written by flightoficarus on 03.05.2017 at 04:05

Glad to see another review that isn't just "ermagerd Mastodon album!!!"


You meant ermahgerd, right?!


----
Daily underground metal recommendations at Metal Trenches.
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04.05.2017 - 02:28
Marcel Hubregtse
Grumpy Old Fuck
Written by Daniell on 03.05.2017 at 15:39

Written by Silent Creeper on 02.05.2017 at 13:16

You gave this album a 5.9, but you gave Babymetal - Metal Resistance a 9.0 and you gave Lulu from Metallica 7.4. !?!

Those 3 releases are completely different and comparing their rating is pointless.


No it is not pointless since scoring one of the worst albums ever (Lulu) i(objectvely speaking) than than this okay album is just ridiculous.
----
Member of the true crusade against European Flower Metal

Yesterday is dead and gone, tomorrow is out of sight
Dawn Crosby (r.i.p.)
05.04.1963 - 15.12.1996

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04.05.2017 - 02:28
Marcel Hubregtse
Grumpy Old Fuck
Written by Daniell on 03.05.2017 at 15:39

Written by Silent Creeper on 02.05.2017 at 13:16

You gave this album a 5.9, but you gave Babymetal - Metal Resistance a 9.0 and you gave Lulu from Metallica 7.4. !?!

Those 3 releases are completely different and comparing their rating is pointless.


No it is not pointless since scoring one of the worst albums ever (Lulu) i(objectvely speaking) than than this okay album is just ridiculous.
----
Member of the true crusade against European Flower Metal

Yesterday is dead and gone, tomorrow is out of sight
Dawn Crosby (r.i.p.)
05.04.1963 - 15.12.1996

Loading...
04.05.2017 - 06:21
ScreamingSteelUS
Agent of Steel
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 04.05.2017 at 02:28

Written by Daniell on 03.05.2017 at 15:39

Written by Silent Creeper on 02.05.2017 at 13:16

You gave this album a 5.9, but you gave Babymetal - Metal Resistance a 9.0 and you gave Lulu from Metallica 7.4. !?!

Those 3 releases are completely different and comparing their rating is pointless.


No it is not pointless since scoring one of the worst albums ever (Lulu) i(objectvely speaking) than than this okay album is just ridiculous.

How would you prove categorically, empirically, scientifically, unassailably that Lulu is "objectively speaking" one of the worst albums ever?
----
Row, row, fight the power
Djently down the stream

I wonder how you will defend your ludicrous assertions.
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04.05.2017 - 08:45
Daniell
_爱情_
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 04.05.2017 at 02:28

No it is not pointless since scoring one of the worst albums ever (Lulu) i(objectvely speaking) than than this okay album is just ridiculous.

You seem to have forgotten that no rating of an album is ever objective. You said it yourself, numerous times.
----
Now loving:
Naglfar - I Am Vengeance
Hour of Penance - Cast the First Stone
Hate - Indestructible Pillar
Depeche Mode - Going Backwards
Flotsam & Jetsam - Forbidden Territories
Immolation - When the Jackals Come
Suffocation - Your Last Breaths
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04.05.2017 - 23:21
Alex F
Slick Dick Rick
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 04.05.2017 at 02:28

No it is not pointless since scoring one of the worst albums ever (Lulu) i(objectvely speaking) than than this okay album is just ridiculous.

No album is objectively better than another. Don't diminish someone's opinion by acting as if there's some objective metric by which you can measure quality of music.
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11.05.2017 - 05:40
Dr. Strawberry
Finally, I loved ScreamingSteelUS !
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19.05.2017 - 22:04
chaotica_mortis
I find this record to be a perfect synthesis of their older and newer styles. EoS is the culmination of everything they've tried injecting into their sound since The Hunter came out, and I'd say it easily stands up to the best of their older material.

The cancer / death sentence concept lends an extra weight to much of the album, and makes songs like "Roots Remain," "Ancient Kingdom," and "Jaguar God" not only stand out instrumentally, but vocally as well. This is probably Mastodon's catchiest album as far as the vocals go, but even though there are times that get a little too poppy ("Show Yourself" is the band's admitted radio single), the sludgiest of Mastodon's older work, the proggiest of their middle era, and the streamlined punch of their newer material all shows through in almost every song. There's a balance present that previous albums lacked; the band knows when to noodle, when to riff, when to groove, and when to get emotional. In the case of a couple of tracks, specifically "Jaguar God," they do a little bit of everything. With Brann Dailor cemented as the band's third vocalist, their range of vocal color, intensity, and delivery is so expansive that whatever feeling needs to be conveyed can be done so accurately.

I'll stop before this turns into a full review. To close, I'd like to mention my favorite songs: "Steambreather," "Ancient Kingdom," and "Clandestiny," the latter of which has one of the most outer-space bridges of any Mastodon song. The whole album is just so damn cool. As a fan of all of the band's work, I find that this one has a lot to be appreciated, and would easily give it an 8 out of 10. Totally respect differing opinions though, as Mastodon tend to be a pretty divisive band.
----
Life is too short to be doing things you don't love doing. - Bruce Dickinson

I don't see any boundaries between any of the art forms. I think they all interrelate completely. - David Bowie
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