The following years saw the band playing incendiary live shows (often without saying a word to the audience), and exploring increasingly accessible material - despite starting out using elements of sludge metal, grindcore and doom metal, the band quickly evolved into a radio-friendly stoner rock band that used prog rock as a key to unlock their more challenging instrumental passages. Simply put, the band managed to challenge both Metallica for riffs (particularly on 2006's Blood Mountain) and Queens Of The Stone Age for boogie (especially on 2011's The Hunter), never losing an ounce of their scintillating power along the way. Not content with being critically acclaimed, the band started to crack Top 10s around the world, with 2014's Once More 'Round the Sun and 2017's Emperor of Sand reaching 6 and 7 respectively in the Billboard Top 200 albums chart.
Four years ago, Emperor of Sand proved that a streamlined Mastodon doesn't result in a worse Mastodon. This might not be the same Atlanta sludge metal quartet that wrote "March of the Fire Ants," but their embrace of arena-ready hard rock found praise from metal tastemakers and mainstream critics alike.
The secret? Authenticity. Whether it's prog/sludge concept albums, or anthems ripe for WWE entrances, Mastodon have remained true to a unique vision.
In 2014, Brent Hinds took a potshot at Dave Grohl. The Mastodon singer and lead guitarist shared a meme that read, "Making rock'n'roll safer with every red carpet all star jam." Perhaps Hinds was merely being flippant to an old pal--seven years earlier, Grohl interviewed Mastodon for Revolver. But it's confounding, then, that Mastodon--a metal band that has for years continually reinvented itself at the risk of driving away its core fans--chose such a safe route for its follow-up to 2017's Emperor of Sand, a highly regarded album that flirted with grunge and earned them their first Grammy win.
Over the past twenty years, listeners have followed Atlantan metal maestros Mastodon on some pretty wild adventures. We've hunted the white whale on 2004's breakout 'Leviathan,' traversed the astral planes, and most recently wandered into the desert via 2017's 'Emperor of Sand.' Surprisingly despite such D&D-worthy escapades, the band has never dropped a double album - until now, that is. Penned after the death of 'band Dad' and beloved manager Nick John and forged in the face of a global pandemic, Mastodon has once again faced death, illness, and crippling uncertainty and emerged clutching gold.