There are few modern metal bands that can dare challenge the likes of Mastodon. Through their vicious riffs and progressive atmospheres, they've risen to the top of metal giants over the years since their 2000 formation. You can really feel the evil of their Emperor Of Sand, the band's seventh album, in its unstoppable power.
Right from the beginning, you are faced with the crushing intensity of this record's guitars. 'Sultan's Curse' begins with a ominous intro before a barrage of guitars and drums kicks in. It's an endless tirade of giant, angry growls and powerful drive that delivers massive power from beginning to end of the track. It's not just the beginning of the record that carries such power. 'Word To The Wise' begins with urgent drums and a dark riff, its fast, crushing nature building upon a very damning personality leading to a very intense track.
Emperor Of Sand has some unfamiliar sounds on it. 'Show Yourself' is a very different track for the band, but it does work. It feels a bit out of place on the record with its much more clean and melodic focus, as well with its emphasis on its vocals, but as the huge, frantic solo kicks in, you remember it's Mastodon you're dealing with. Closing track 'Jaguar God' is a massively risky song, kicking off with dramatic acoustic guitars and slowly building into a monstrous behemoth of anger. It features a beautiful guitar solo that helps tie it all together, as if the album's war is coming to a thrilling and explosive climax.
The core sounds of Mastodon are still very much present in the record. Giant riffs engulf you in tracks like 'Ancient Kingdom,' its solo perhaps bigger than its thick riffs, though the entire song has a very commanding and vicious tone. The urgency bleeds into the following track 'Clandestiny,' while a focus on the album's melodic and roaring vocals comes in 'Andromeda.' Some songs have a bigger conclusion that brings each battle to a thrilling end - while the thick riffs and huge, evil choruses of 'Steambreather' are certainly a force to be reckoned with, the riffs and intensity of the song's final seconds are by far one of the most extreme moments on the album, much like 'Scorpion Breath.' There is also the opposite side of the spectrum, like in the progressive 'Roots Remain' with its reverberating piano outro.
Mastodon are a band that never fail to challenge their listeners. Whether they're inviting experimentation into their sound or trying to crush you with massive riffs, they will succeed. You can feel the evil of Emperor Of Sand in its power, each song another battle in the big, fiery war. There's horror, triumph, and everything in between on this record. Go into it ready to fight.
Favorite Tracks: Steambreather, Jaguar God, Sultan's Curse
Least Favorite Track: Precious Stones
Rating: 90 / 100
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