Ranking Mastodon Albums

Ranking Mastodon Albums

Atlanta's Mastodon have been performing their take on progressive sludge metal for over twenty years now. From launching onto the scene with their angry, aggressive and intense debut Remission to their first double album in 2021 with Hushed and Grim, this band is not afraid to step out of the genre and play around in different waters to see what works for them to fit their sound. With the band showcasing impressive musicianship as well as dynamic vocal ranges from all the members of the band, they have grown to become critical darlings with almost every release and beloved from the metal community.

With ongoing concept records tackling the elements, to death to astral projection, this band has no subject that they will avoid and will take the listener on their journey with them. With over twenty years of music and eight studio albums, let's rank the legacy of Mastodon's discography.

8) Hushed and Grim

Their latest record, Hushed and Grim is the band at the peak of their progressive sludgy sound. With a bigger production and sound compared to previous records, as well as their first double album, the band went to extremes and new levels with this record. Unfortunately, I think this is not their strongest release. Musically, Mastodon is right where they are at, but the songs seem to merge or blend into one another, and with this record being over 90 minutes AND a double album, it can at sometimes become more of a chore than a journey. The band's musicianship is on a point as usual with the showcase of Brann Dallor's insane drumming and clean singing, and the grittiness of Troy Sanders' vocals, it is still a good record and an adventurous attempt for them to go further into the progressive metal sound they are known for.

Favorite Tracks: "Pain with An Anchor", "Pushing The Tides"

7) The Hunter

A divisive record in the Mastodon fan community, The Hunter is a more straight-forward, less overly progressive record than what the band did on their last record Crack The Skye. The record has very little harsh vocals and the musical direction seems to be more of a "laid back" tone. Drummer Brann Dallor said the record is more riff-oriented and has a more Led Zeppelin-feel to their songs and I completely agree with him. The direction the band took on the record leans toward taking a break from the super progressive metal sound the band gave the listener,  into a more headstrong metal release with less progressive elements and a more stoner/sludgy modern rock album which isn't bad at all, but I think that is where the divisive comes from for this record from the fanbase. They were so used to the atmospheric and progressive and technicality of Crack The Skye and now to go completely 180 on this record almost shocked the fanbase. Still a good album overall, but personally, they have better records in their discography I would go back to before this record.

Favorite Tracks: "Curl of The Burl", "Stargasm", "Octopus Has No Friends"

6) Blood Mountain

The follow up to the band's second record, Blood Mountain is the band starting to play around more with their sound, adding more of the progressive elements that would start to be showcased in later records. Featuring a lot more guest appearances from the likes of Josh Homme of Queens of The Stone Age, Cedric Bixler-Zavala of The Mars Volta, and recurring guest regular Scott Kelly of Neurosis, the record shows the band still keep elements of the sludgy sound they had on the first two records, but starting to add more dynamics with longer song lengths, more cleans both in guitars as well as a push from the band to have more clean vocals and less reliance on harsh vocals. Album opener "The Wolf is Loose" sounds almost like a B-side from Remission and for me is a stand-out track of the album and one hell of a strong opener to this eclectic record.

Favorite Tracks: "The Wolf is Loose". "Colony of Birchman", "Crystal Skull" and "Capillarian Crest"

5) Once More ‘Round The Sun

Mastodon began to start infusing more modern and experimental rock elements with this album. From guitarist Bill Kelliher, this record has elements of the bands previous releases like Remission and The Hunter, as well as lot of influences from other popular rock bands like Deftones and Alice in Chains. Production wise, the record does sound more on a grandiose scale. Vocals have more punch to them and vocal harmonies of Dallor and Sanders are mixed very well. Musically, you can hear what Kelliher was talking about, the band does start to steer into the more dynamic and diverse rock/metal range of genre playing and it works, especially at this point the band had developed a perfect three-part vocal attack that with all the genre blending on this record could have a vocalist that would fit to any of the styles.

Favorite Tracks: "The Motherload", "High Road", "Once More 'Round The Sun"

4) Emperor of Sand

A more straight forward record then the previous release, Emperor of Sand for me leans more toward the Leviathan-era sound with the dynamics of Once More 'Round The Sun. Brann's vocals on "Show Yourself" are a standout track showing his vocal range while leading the band with dynamic drumming adding to the rest of the bands freight-train intensity of playing. A lot faster paced album at certain points, the band seems to have dropped a lot of the sludgy sound that still lingers from previous records to fully dive into the prog waters.

Favorite Tracks: "Show Yourself", "Steambreather", "Word To The Wise"

3) Remission

With their 2002 debut, they unleashed their fusion of progressive sludge unto the masses. A more aggressive record then their later releases, the fury, anger and overall tenacity is heard on this record. With no clean singing, a rougher mix and with something to prove, Remission is a record that was an insanely strong debut for the band. Their take on sludge is heavy and aggressive musically, but lyrically dives into dark subject matter and with the accompaniment of the insane drumming of Brann Dallor adds a diverse dynamic to their music. With Dallor's playing, it is almost similar to a jazz drummer playing on a sludge record, where you think it wouldn't work, but it does. Remission is a record that is not only a strong debut, but would also lay the foundation to what the band would famously evolve into.

Favorite Tracks: "Mother Puncher", "March of The Fire Ants", "Ol'e Nessie"

2) Leviathan

The follow up to Remission, Leviathan launched Mastodon into the stratosphere of heavy metal music. A concept album based on the book Moby Dick, the album gives it a feel of being on rough waters with beautiful clean guitar parts and then crashing thunderous drums hitting the listener from both sides.  Toning down the harshness and aggression for a more progressive and dynamic mix of progressive sludge, adding organs and cello to some of their tracks, the band defined their sound and set the stage for the band to amplify their sound and make it their defining element. The addition of clean vocals on this record gives the record another diverse element to add to the bands repertoire. A standout record and a record that put the band on the map of both metal fans and critics.

Favorite Tracks: "Blood and Thunder", "Iron Tusk", "Aqua Dementia"

1) Crack The Skye

In 2009, Mastodon released Crack The Skye, the band fully embraced their amalgamation of progressive metal & rock, sludgy guitars and the addition of drummer Brann Dallor as their third vocalist. With this record, they released their magnum opus and a pinnacle of progressive metal and rock with this release. The track opener "Oblivion" is an amazing opening track, showcasing Brann's vocals as well as the ambition and the direction this record was going to take you and what a journey musically, emotionally, and is an audio adventure of epic proportion. With the almost eleven minute, 4 part song "The Czar", this record challenged the band with writing this as well as the listener to join them on this journey of amazing guitar work, tri-vocal performance with each member shining and showcased beautifully, Ambience and texture in the production that gives the record a almost 70's Pink Floyd Dark Side of The Moon-style sound with modern day production. If you want to get into Mastodon, THIS is the record to start with. Get a good pair of headphones, shut the world out and let this record take you out of this world into the next.

Favorite Tracks: THE ENTIRE ALBUM

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