Mastodon - _Remission_
(Relapse Records, 2002)
by: Jackie Smit (9.5 out of 10)
Every once in a while, those of us who have been listening to metal for longer than the duration of yesterday's craze can't help but get a little bored. Sure, there are a lot of good bands and some excellent albums doing the rounds, but sometimes one craves the overwhelmingly jubilant exuberance experienced when you heard that first Slayer or Morbid Angel record. With thrash -- a tasty, albeit far from new, prospect -- set to seemingly make a comeback, this could well have been a relatively slow period for metal with regards to true innovation, but for the outstanding efforts of bands like Mastodon. If your jaw hasn't nestled itself in comfortably next to your feet at the sound of the aptly titled opening track "Crusher Destroyer", then you probably don't like heavy music. A flurry of dramatic drum-rolls, accompanied by one of the nastiest riffs this side of _Hell Awaits_ and augmented with near off-the-scale aggressive vocals mounts the first attack, before Mastodon suddenly throw an almost stoner-like curveball on "March of the Fire Ants" and then mainline a ferocious, dense wall of sound back into the listener's veins. Mastodon's magic lies in their ability to remain constantly unique on their second album, and to constantly surprise and challenge the listener. Thick, sludgy guitar-led stampedes are followed seamlessly by lengthy jazz-like soundscapes -- every element polarised from the other, yet remaining thoroughly appropriate at all times. They defy categorization and just when one thinks you have them figured out, a track like "Trilobite" leaps out and replaces the curious question-mark above your head. Along with the equally excellent Burnt by the Sun, Mastodon are possibly one of the freshest, most thrillingly entertaining and captivating bands to be unleashed in aeons. And if ever you needed your faith replaced in the beautifully diverse monster that is metal, then Mastodon is sure to have you back on your knees in no time -- in a strictly non-sexual sense, that is.

(article published 17/6/2003)

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