Mastodon - Hushed and Grim Music Album Reviews

Mastodon - Hushed and Grim Music Album Reviews
The Atlanta metal band’s new double album is its least ambitious collection yet: an inoffensive, occasionally alluring, but overwhelmingly dull 90-minute slog.

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. Their new double album, Hushed and Grim, is an overstuffed collection of downtuned alt-rock with occasional flashes of greatness. Coming from a band that masterfully executed a sludge metal concept album about Moby Dick, it’s an inoffensive, occasionally alluring, but overwhelmingly dull 90-minute slog.

Most frustrating to fans who have remained on the Denim Vest Express, after the extreme metal diehards jumped off around 2009’s hard turn into prog, Crack the Skye, is that the band can still flat-out shred. It’s all the same members, too; Hinds and Bill Kelliher form a twin guitar attack, and drummer Brann Dailor and bassist Troy Sanders retain the low-end connection that has long provided their music’s weightiness. But without any sense of direction, Hushed and Grim should feel alienating for all factions—the longtime fans, and those willing to give the veterans another shot.

There are a few fleeting moments in which Mastodon teases what could have been a fruitful new direction. What the band shows for the first time—in depressingly short order for the amount of space they allot themselves—is a sneaky ability to write incredibly dense, chest-tapping emotional music. Hushed and Grim is, paradoxically, at its best when the band leans into a high-gravity, supercharged version of circa-1997 Crank! Records emo—the kind with breakdowns for solemnly nodding your head instead of banging it. But instead of leaning all the way in, Mastodon continually take refuge in long, meandering passages that merely highlight the valuable experiment that Hushed and Grim could have been.

Halfway through “More Than I Could Chew,” one of a few highlights, the guitars cease their endless chugging for a minute. Hinds and Kelliher unfurl dense, mathy guitar lines that float atop a slow and methodical distorted bassline. The repeated lyrics, “I have lost my way/Reaching for today,” aren’t quite poetry, but with room to breathe, the songwriting is as intense as any riff they’ve ever played. These brief passages of emotional resonance make everything else feel relatively anonymous. Mastodon repeatedly hints at this new direction but never actually commits.

Case in point is the mid-tempo “Teardrinker,” highlighted by an earworm of a lead guitar melody. An obvious single, it features emotive wailing about a failed relationship without crossing into mid-dial detritus. But Mastodon quickly grows bored with its new, introspective self, inexplicably tossing in an unsettling bass solo: It’s unclear if the band is being earnest or if they’re aping Led Zeppelin’s much-derided “The Crunge.” Moments like this feel like self-sabotage.

Crueler still, they place the album’s best song, “Gigantium,” at the very end of the album. After wading through a swamp of mostly bromidic alt-rock, there it is: the jewel of Hushed and Grim, and, incidentally, the song that sounds most adventurous, unlike anything in the band’s catalog. Evoking Meanderthal-era Torche, Mastodon hints that it could be the sludgiest nu-emo band on the planet. It’s ironically the one track I wish I could live inside for much longer, craving a third mystical guitar solo, even. “Gigantium” is proof-of-concept for another new version of Mastodon. But the band known for continually surprising listeners ultimately falls short, mostly hiding behind unexceptional, diluted alt-metal. Instead of letting this bold idea guide the way, it’s offered up as an apology affixed to the end of their least ambitious collection yet. Mastodon, once transgressive in its refusal to be put in a box, has shaved off its sharp edges and crawled inside.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Mastodon - Hushed and Grim Music Album Reviews Mastodon - Hushed and Grim Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on November 05, 2021 Rating: 5


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