Album preview: Mastadon’s ‘Emperor of Sand’

Mastodon, a band from Georgia that has cemented itself well within the heavy metal community, has released two singles teasing their new album Emperor of Sand. This new album is slated to release on March 31. As someone new to Mastodon — and the genre in general — I’m going to tell you exactly what to expect on this new release based only on its two current singles, “Show Yourself” and “Sultan’s Curse.”

From the singles, and what little I have heard of the heavy metal genre, I have come to realize at least why the genre is popular. The vocals are catchy and have an intensity to them that match the rapid drum patterns and the roughness of the guitar riffs. All of it comes neatly wrapped together in a tight musical package filled with an addicting rhythm and varying song structure.

Heavy metal showcases the intricacy and skill of the musicians while the vocals keep you attached and focused on the different sections of every track. Mastodon delivers on all of these aspects and has gotten me excited for the new album release.

Of the two songs, I find it hard to pick a favorite. Both have distinct tones and instrument progressions that counteract each other in terms of pros and cons. While I enjoyed the elaborate guitar solo in “Sultan’s Curse” more than the one in “Show Yourself,” the latter has better lyrics and delivery.

“Show Yourself” focuses on finding yourself despite outside influences, and the way the lyrics are delivered represent a softer tone to that of “Sultan’s Curse.” It’s because of that that the grittier guitar solo that embraces the first section of the bridge disagrees with the rest of the track tonally. Meanwhile, the guitar solo in “Sultan’s Curse” is the best part of the track and is blended well enough in the song that it’s hard to know it’s coming, giving you a sweet surprise when it does.

As for Emperor of Sand, I believe we will hear these small details get amplified into a track list that will keep you guessing. While these tracks have their own similarities, there is enough distinction in the technical aspect of lyrics and song structure that makes each song have its own flavor, tone and rhythm. It’s clear that Mastodon have honed in on their own style and have executed it masterfully. This overlooked genre has gained a new fan.

Contact CU Independent Arts Writer Alvaro Sanchez at alvaro.sanchez@colorado.edu.

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