ALBUM REVIEW: Mastodon “Emperor of Sand” is Gloriously Brilliant

Mastodon! Pterodactyl! Triceratops! Oops, sorry, wrong article. My 90’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers nostalgia seems to have taken over with the launch of the reboot movie. But, the first bit of that applies here as long-running heavy metal band Mastodon are set to release their 7th studio album, Emperor of Sand, which follows up on 2014’s Once More ‘Round The SunMastodon’s been at this for 17 years now, so they know what they’re doing, as we as fans know what we’re getting from a Mastodon album.

Emperor of Sand offers up 11 new tracks full of hard-hitting, heavy metal bliss from Brent Hinds & co. If you’ve ever listened to a Mastodon album, you know just how good these guys are. If you haven’t listened to a Mastodon album, what the hell is wrong with you and under what rock have you been hiding? But seriously, I’ll be fair and say that in the New York market, we don’t have a metal station. We don’t even have a rock station playing new music anymore, and you need to go to south Jersey or Philly to find one playing Mastodon or anything similar, so maybe it’s not your fault if you haven’t heard them. But you should, and Emperor of Sand is just another reason why.

Opening up with Sultan’s Curse, the album hits you in the face immediately with the band’s signature heavy metal sound and Hinds sharing – as always – vocal duties with Troy Sanders on the album. Much of the album goes the same way – the band’s usual sound is featured throughout and Hinds is phenomenal on the mic – but that the tracks sound similar is not a bad thing at all, not when they’re all very good. Jumping around a little, I’m in love with Word To The Wise, which is the album’s 6th track, and I’m also really feeling Precious Stones.

Ultimately, what fans are going to love about this album is that it’s a true Mastodon album. The band comes out and punches you right in the face on every track and makes you want to bang your head, especailly on Scorpion Breath, which starts out “mellow” by Mastodon standards. That lasts about 3 seconds before you’re getting kicked in the ribs by the hard-hitting riffs the band has used to make their name for almost two decades. The album’s closing track, Jaguar God, starts out much the same way as Scorpion Breath, only it stays that way for the beter part of two minutes before sounding like a Mastodon song, and I absolutely love it. It’s a nice change of pace at the end of a bad ass, hard hitting album, that lets you slow down just a bit – if not for very long – and shows a slightly different side of the band.

What it all comes down to, though, is that Mastodon have delivered a masterpiece of an album rife with 11 solid songs and zero filler. Brent Hinds and the boys do not play games when it comes to making music, and their 7th studio album might be their best yet – I say that as a massive fan of Blood Mountain – and their tour can’t come around soon enough. We here at Soundboard Magazine are super excited for this one, and we’ll obviously work to cover one of their tour dates – maybe the massive show with Opeth and Gojira down in Philly – because, well, we’d suck at our jobs if we don’t cover Mastodon after they release an album as good as Emperor of Sand.

Emperor of Sand comes out TOMORROW, 3/31. You should buy it. Now. Well, not NOW-now, but tomorrow-now. We’ve been listening to it for free all month, and we’re gonna go buy it. You’ll not be disappointed in this one.

Emperor of Sand tracklist:

01 – Sultan’s Curse

02 – Show Yourself

03 – Precious Stones

04 – Steambreather

05 – Roots Remain

06 – Word ToThe Wise

07 – Ancient Kingdom

08 – Clandestiny

09 – Andromeda

10 – Scorpion Breath

11 – Jaguar God

Mastodon are set to hit the road shortly in support of Emperor of Sand. Check out the band’s tour dates below:

# indicates festival date. All other dates are headline shows.

04/14     Missoula, MT                       Wilma Theater

04/15     Seattle, WA                           Paramount Theater

04/16     Portland, OR                         Roseland Theater

04/18     San Francisco, CA               The Warfield

04/20     Los Angeles, CA                  The Palladium

04/21     Phoenix, AZ                          Comerica Theatre

04/23     Salt Lake City, UT              Complex

04/24     Denver, CO                           Fillmore

04/26     Kansas City, KS                   Uptown Theater

04/27     St. Louis, MO                       Pageant

04/28     Birmingham, AL                  Iron City

# 04/29  Jacksonville, FL                   Welcome to Rockville Festival

# 04/30  Ft. Myers, FL                        Fort Rock Festival

05/02     Washington, DC                  Fillmore

05/03     Toronto, ON                         Rebel

05/04     Cleveland, OH                     Agora Theater

#05/05   Concord, NC                        Carolina Rebellion Festival

05/06     Philadelphia, PA                  Electric Factory

05/08     Boston, MA                          House of Blues

05/09     Portland, ME                        State Theater

05/11     New York, NY                      Hammerstein Ballroom

05/12     Pittsburgh, PA                       Stage AE

05/13     Chicago, IL                           Aragon Ballroom

05/14     Cincinnati, OH                     Taft Theatre

05/16     Detroit, MI                            Royal Oak Theater

05/17     Nashville, TN                        Ryman Auditorium

05/18     Memphis, TN                       Minglewood Hall

05/19     Dallas, TX                             Gas Monkey Live

05/20     Austin, TX                             ACL Live