Another Mastodon side-project, you say? A lesser musician than Mastodon’s Brent Hinds would have spread his talent too thin by this point, but Legend Of The Seagullmen is so entertaining that it serves more to confirm that the bearded one’s ability to reinvent himself is neverending. With Tool’s Danny Carey on drums, bassist Pete Griffin (Zappa Plays Zappa) and movie director Jimmy Hayward on guitar, they are psych rock missionaries, forging a course through endearingly bonkers lysergic seascapes full of marauding giant squid and Boschian shipwrecks.
Kicking off with their own gleefully manic theme song, We Are The Seagullmen, which starts like an out-of-synch One Of These Days before scorching off into rumbling Sabbath territory, the ensemble are having an obscene amount of fun. One might question whether there is any huge aesthetic difference between this and some of Mastodon’s more outré efforts, but that band’s recent ponderousness is conspicuously absent and Carey’s drumming – every bit as distinctive as Brann Dailor’s – has a looseness and restraint that underpins everything with immense character and punch.
Ultimately, this is a mad-eyed psychedelic knees-up. But even as the Seagullmen revel in a world of drug-fuelled surrealism, their ideas are sharp and effective. The creaking bows and Kraken rumble of The Fogger nod towards the boisterous end of the folk metal spectrum, albeit with a lyrical mischievousness that recalls Primus at their wonky best and a guitar solo straight out of the Mick Box handbook. Disintegrating into chaos midway through before regaining momentum and heading towards a suitably apocalyptic conclusion, it’s audacious and impossible to resist.
The demented moments keep coming. They crank up the goofy melodrama on languorous sailor’s tale Curse Of The Red Tide, hammer away like Hawkwind on a tequila binge on the title track and, at several, seemingly random points, scorch off on a joyously cacophonous and hallucinatory Blue-Öyster- psych punk tangent. Underpinning all of this mayhem are some genuinely catchy songs, rendered in crackly sonic sepia and delivered with a red-eyed smirk. Shipswreck is atypically direct, a Sabbathian sea shanty with riffs to spare; Rise Of The Giant is all mutant blues riffs, thumped acoustics and Moog- augmented aquatic whimsy; the closing Ballad Of The Deep Sea Diver sounds like Nick Cave collaborating with Ennio Morricone after one too many Mescal shots.
Too many side-projects could spoil the Masto-broth, but much like Brann Dailor’s Arcadea, this has huge potential. It’s also brilliantly, stupidly entertaining.