I didn’t hear Mastodon’t debut album, ‘Remission’, when it was released back in 2002, but did come across ‘Leviathan’ a few years later and have followed their career with interest since then. Released in 2021, ‘Hushed and Grim’ was their eighth studio album and their first in four years, following on from ‘Emperor of Sand’ where I said they were moving into a lighter direction. That has happened again with this release, except this time they have taken it too far and it is hard for me to associate this release with the mighty behemoth they used to be.
Frustratingly, drummer Brann Dailor is having one of his finest times behind the kit, always pushing hard with loads of fills and changes in rhythm and attack, but for the most part the guys in front of him are not doing the same. There are times when they show just what they are made of, but too many when they just sit back, with “Sickle and Peace” being a case in point with some fine guitars and crunch at times, but way too much cleverness and not enough volume at others. This is also a very long album (86 minutes) and in that sense it reminds me of some of The Flower Kings’ releases in that some judicious pruning and editing might well have been in order as much of this album just washed over me.
There are times when an artist can keep moving and eventually leave some of their fans behind, and I must admit this is pretty close for me, yet there are times when they really show what they are capable of (such as on “More than I Could Chew”) so I live in hope that the next one will be better.
7/10 Kev Rowland