On it goes. Mastodon seeks no easy answers but poses dozens of questions about origin, and "culture." Forget "thinking man's metal," this is metal, period, and the guys that make it think. The music, as varied and tumultuous and, in places utterly beautiful as it is, place the band beyond the pale -- check the intro to "Bladecatcher" before it falls apart into pure chaos and cacophony where lyrics and themes are barely articulated in the hammering thunder of apocalyptic noise.
In their six-year existence, Mastodon have swiftly become "exhibit A" in the case for the defence against the oft-heard accusation that heavy metal is nothing more than cock-rock misogyny and shock-and-awe teen fodder. Not only did they write a concept album based on Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, the US four-piece made the most enormous, bombastic music you could possibly hear, short of travelling back in time and taking up residence inside Wagner's brain. But within seconds of the opening track of this, their third LP, it's clear a significant change has taken place: syrupy, multi-tracked vocals akin to Supertramp in a particularly foul mood have replaced the primal roar of old, while their tectonic hugeness has been supplanted by the wearisome over-indulgence of musos at play.
A move to the majors didn't kill the Mastodon. From opener "The Wolf Is Loose," it's clear the Atlanta quartet has journeyed further into the abyss. This time it's not a white whale; however, it's a horrific mountain that turns you into a cannibal, and the symbolism isn't accidental. Drummer Brann Dailor still has eight arms to pound you on the slithery "Capillarian Crest," the shredder ending totally Kill 'em All-era Metallica.