At this stage in Mastodon’s career, you simultaneously know what you’re going to get, and also have no idea what to expect. It’s Shrödinger’s Prog.
All of the touchstones fans treasure remain: tooth-rattling riffs; three equally powerful but individually unique vocalists combining to create a beautiful, intensely masculine melodic tapestry; tricksy time signatures and wild flights of musical fancy ensuring we never quite know where the journey will take us.
And yet, despite all the thunder, Hushed And Grim is the most delicate record to date, filled with emotion, doubt, grief, regret and sorrow. In The Crux alone, twitchy, claustrophobic metal makes way for a dreamy, mournful middle section that punches the heart without mercy.
The Beast, meanwhile, is built on a solid foundation of blues, manipulated and twisted into something bigger, darker and purely Mastodon, while Middle Eastern flourishes on Dagger bring in a new dimension. That’s just the tip of a colossal iceberg – this is a work of beauty and beastliness in equal measure.