It’s 20 years since Mastodon rose up from the Atlanta underground, and to mark the milestone the ever-inventive prog-metal quartet have released this mixed bag of rarities, covers, instrumentals, soundtracks and live tracks.
Previously unreleased opener Fallen Torches is textbook Mastodon: head-spinningly, palpitatingly busy, but with an elegance surfing the noise.
The covers, though, are where the really interesting choices were made. Metallica’s Orion is a nod to an obvious influence, but their take on A Commotion makes the already dramatic Feist song oppressively heavy and dense, while a surprisingly faithful version of the Flaming Lips’ A Spoonful Weighs A Ton demonstrates why Mastodon are so consistently fascinating, taking pinches from across the whole musical spectrum to season their unique sound. Meanwhile, the vicious Cut You Up With A Linoleum Knife, from the Aqua Teen Hunger Force soundtrack, is gleefully mad and thoroughly punk.
The instrumentals are less engaging, although they give fans a chance to deconstruct the mechanics of Toe To Toes and a delicate Jaguar God. But then this collection isn’t intended for the casual listener, it’s a salute to the obsessed, those who listen to this band and discover something new even on the thousandth spin of any given album.
As such it’s a fine mix of odds and sods to stave off the hunger for the next sonic feast they cook up.