Mastodon – Hushed & Grim (Album Review)

Mastodon - Hushed And Grim

Mastodon – Hushed & Grim
Released: October 29th, 2021

Lineup:

Troy Sanders | Bass, Vocals
Bill Kelliher | Guitar
Brent Hinds | Guitar, Vocals
Bran Dailor | Drums, Vocals

Online:
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
Official Website

Sometimes you have to pinch yourself when you realise the new kids on the block have been around for over twenty years. Admittedly the last couple of years have been a bit of a write-off. But with life in many parts of the world looking a bit brighter, the timing couldn’t be better for Mastodon to unleash their eighth album Hushed & Grim. One thing you can be sure of is the Atlanta natives don’t play by the rules, nor are they easily defined by genre. The band goes so far as to say that although they’re metal heads and contains elements of metal, they’re not a metal band per se. It’s a fair call when you think that one of the world’s greatest metal bands, Motörhead, said they just played rock n roll. But I digress.

The first thing to notice, and there’s been some fanfare around it as this release marks Mastodon’s first double album. As with previous releases, there’s a theme to Hushed & Grim with this outing seeing the band revisit dark old friends, death and sorrow. Now these themes aren’t unique in the realm of heavy music, but for this trip around the sun it’s personal. Loss brings creativity and the tragic loss of long-time friend and manager Nick John hit the band hard, so hard in fact the band have bared all on the 15 tracks penned for the release. There’s a lot to digest, so don’t expect any short, radio-friendly three-minute wonders here. Most tracks come in around the six-minute mark.

With that in mind I found the album doesn’t so much grab as gently beckons you in. It demands more than a cursory listen; it’s anything but background music and attention needs to be paid. If you chuck this on and expect to only give it half an ear, Hushed & Grim has other ideas. I made the mistake of trying just that and midway through the album was confused and disconnected. Pressed stop, rewound the tape and started again. So give yourself an hour and a half to truly appreciate it. Given the number and length of the tracks, at times it felt like an endurance event, and lyrically the themes are dark, heart wrenching and passionate. The music is at times soul crushingly heavy, but in true Mastodon style it’s infused with swathes of prog rock. It’s easy to throw around words like grandiose, symphonic and orchestral. All have a place when describing this album. Choose a track randomly and you find one or all contained.

Having said that, this album is audacious and adventurous but isn’t perfect. I’m certain fans will disagree with me on this point but I found the album ran just a little long. There are without a doubt some absolute bangers here – in fact I’d go so far as to say the four piece from Georgia have written some of the best music of their career. Distilled down to 10 or 12 tracks Hushed & Grim would be an absolute belter. But much like life, this is a marathon, not a sprint, and maybe I just need a bit of patience.

Mastodon – Hushed & Grim tracklisting:

1. Pain With An Anchor
2. The Crux
3. Sickle And Peace
4. More Than I Could Chew
5. The Beast
6. Skeleton Of Splendor
7. Teardrinker
8. Pushing The Tides
9. Peace And Tranquility
10. Dagger
11. Had It All
12. Savage Lands
13. Gobblers Of Dregs
14. Eyes Of Serpents
15. Gigantium

Rating: 7/10
Hushed & Grim is out Friday. Grab your copy here
Reviewed by Gareth Williams

About Gareth Williams (113 Articles)
The Heavy Metal Poet, the only guy dumb enough to recite poetry at Soundwave, star of stage, radio and podcasts. Now writing words for Wall Of Sound

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