BLEEDER’S DIGEST: QUICKIE REVIEWS OF THE NEW ANIMALS AS LEADERS AND MASTODON ALBUMS
We generally use the Reviews category at MetalSucks to highlight lesser known bands that we feel could use the exposure instead of slapping an “official” but ultimately subjective and arbitrary rating on albums and bands we already cover on the site ad nauseam. But sometimes once a big album comes out we kind of forget about it; once the press releases, new track premieres, music videos and random tidbits stop coming at a breakneck pace and the record label is less focused on producing that big first week sales number, suddenly there’s a lot less to post about and certain records get lost in the fray of whatever’s new that’s come along since. Today I want to briefly reviews two of those albums, Animals as Leaders’ Weightless and Mastodon’s The Hunter.
Animals as Leaders – Weightless (Prosthetic)
Those going into Weightless expecting Animals as Leaders 2.0 are going to be disappointed. Instead of being content to re-write Animals as Leaders, Tosin Abasi — who completely changed the game with that album — has once again pushed music forward by taking his band in an even more experimental direction. Part of that has to do with letting his [relatively] new bandmates Javier Reyes and Navene Koperweis contribute to the writing (Tosin was just a solo act last time around), part of that has to do with the fact that Misha Mansoor did not produce this effort, and part of that undoubtedly just has to do with artistic desire and intent. I admit, I find myself experiencing a little bit of a disappointment myself; it’s not that I necessarily wanted AAL 2.0 (although I probably would’ve been perfectly content with that), but the songs on Weightless don’t seem to have the same sticking power as those on the self-titled record did. There’s plenty to appreciate in the way of dazzling musicianship, and I commend Tosin for making a risky but ultimately smart career move by distancing himself from “djent,” but this album just doesn’t seem as cohesive as its predecessor. I admit, the more I listen, the more I seem to appreciate the individual songs… maybe it just needs even more time to percolate. Even on a rough day, Animals as Leaders are leagues better than just about any other instrumental band out there.
Mastodon – The Hunter (Reprise)
The Hunter suffers a similar problem as Weightless — lack of memorable songs — from a band that usually produces tons of them on the regs. Some of the songs on this album are as good as any in Mastodon’s catalogue; “Curl of the Burl” is an instant classic, while “Black Tongue” and “Spectrelight” are pretty dern good too. Outside of that, there’s not a ton to latch onto here. This is a band’s that’s known for two things: 1) their big, meaty, hooky riffs, 2) outsize progressive song arrangements, and unfortunately The Hunter doesn’t have either much of #1 except for the aforementioned or much of #2 except trippy album-closer “The Sparrow.” Most of the rest of the songs are good, but not great, leaving the album without a whole lot of replay value… especially as compared to the rest of Mastodon’s excellent catalogue.