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Thirteen tracks of metal, extra heavy, with some soul on the side. That’s how you can describe Mastodon’s long-anticipated sonic descendant to Crack the Skye. Constantly pushing forward, with the Hunter, Mastodon ditched the concept album model that has worked so well for them previously, like a snake shedding its skin and angled off into new musical territory. The result is a much appreciated evolution in sound, complete with more palatable song lengths, lyrics whittled down to the essential essences that evoke emotion and surge with force and direction, anthem-type choruses and melodic chords that tease the untrained ear into believing that Mastodon is aiming to go pop, but to the seasoned veteran it’s a sign of developing maturity in their craft. Could this be due to Mike Elizondo, who has handled production duties for Eminem or is it due to road work with Alice in Chains? Who cares? It’s Mastodon, the Hunter, the drums are vacuum seal tight, the songs stand alone and the music speaks for itself.