Mastodon's fifth album is as near to punchy and concise as they're ever likely to come. Gone are the 13-minute multipart epics - the longest track here is just five and a half - yet there's a depth and darkness about The Hunter: not the darkness that drives Norwegian metallers to burn down churches, but the darkness of space. The titles of tracks such as Blasteroid and Stargasm capture the mood. The star of the show is drummer Brann Dailor, whose jazzy fills lend a fleet-flootedness to music that could easily get mired in sludge. Towards the end of standout All the Heavy Lifting, when he switches to double-time kick drums, it's as if all the sonic promises metal has made are being met. It's not all apocalypse-with-instruments, though: the title track deals in the fathomless sadness that ended up making crossover stars of Metallica with One. Thrilling stuff.
01 Black Tongue 02 Curl Of The Burl 03 Blasteroid 04 Stargasm 05 Octopus Has No Friends 06 All The Heavy Lifting 07 The Hunter 08 Dry Bone Valley 09 Thickening 10 Creature Lives 11 Spectrelight 12 Bedazzled Fingernails