Photo Courtesy of MastodonRocks.com
Story by Tim Jenkins / Staff Writer
Atlanta-based metal band Mastodon released their seventh studio album, “Emperor of Sand,” last Friday. The album is the band’s first concept album since “Crack the Skye” in 2009 and is one of the most-anticipated metal albums of 2017.
The album doesn’t waste any time diving right into the heavy, riff-driven sound Mastodon is known for with the first track, “The Sultan’s Curse.” Guitarists Bill Kelliher and Brent Hinds don’t waste a single note, playing exactly what is needed for each song without going overboard.
But the guitar riffs are only part of the album. Within the music are lyrics that speak of death and survival, as well as introspection. Songs like “Steambreather” and “Precious Stones” paint pretty clear messages, while others such as “Word to the Wise” and “Ancient Kingdom” are more abstract, hinting at the themes mentioned above.
Unlike many metal bands ,Mastodon does not have a main lead vocalist; they have three, with drummer Brann Dailor, guitarist Brent Hinds and bassist Troy Sanders sharing vocalist duties on the album. This allows the band to mix different vocals together on every track. They also bring in two guest vocalists: Kevin Sharp on “Andromeda” and Scott Kelly on “Scorpion Breath.” With so many vocalists, the lyrics sometimes become unclear, though this is a small issue and doesn’t take away from the larger picture painted by the album.
Overall, “Emperor of Sand” is an interesting album to listen to. The tracks offer so much musical technicality and vocal dynamics that repeated listens are required to fully grasp everything contained in the album. Each listen reveals something new.