fri 12/08/2022

CD: Mastodon - Emperor of Sand | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Mastodon - Emperor of Sand

CD: Mastodon - Emperor of Sand

Proggy metalheads consider mortality and the passing of time in an epic concept album

Emperor of Sand: truly epic in its scope

Emperor of Sand is Mastodon’s eighth album and showcases a band that exhibits absolutely no sign of letting up on the epic riffing and thunderous beat or of edging towards the mainstream. Make no mistake, Mastodon remain resolutely heavy in both their sound and their lyrics.

A concept album which tells the tale of a man sentenced to death in a never-ending desert, Emperor of Sand also doubles as an allegory for human mortality and the passing of the sands of time. If this sounds all a bit too heavy on the Game of Thrones-type sword and sorcery imagery, Mastodon have certainly earned the right, having once appeared in the TV series as a group of wildlings. However, while much of the subject matter is of a fantastical nature, many songs came into being at a time when guitarist Bill Kelliher’s mother was dying from cancer and they reflect real fears and emotions rather than recycled stories from elsewhere.

Mastodon’s sound has a bit of a feel of Metallica with added prog rock interludes or of an Americanised Iron Maiden without the blokey asides but with plenty of the literary influences of East London’s heavyweight favourites. It also benefits from the sympathetic production of long-time buddy Brendan O’Brien which adds whole new dimensions to the sonic atmosphere. Given the subject matter, it’s no surprise that the lyrics are not odes to all things bright and beautiful but feature tales of “death of a thousand ravens” in set opener “Sultan’s Curse” and “violence born within the mind” in the brooding “Steambreather”. However, Emperor of Sand is no sludge rock misery-fest either but an album of competing contradictions that keeps the listener engaged throughout.

Emperor of Sand is a powerful and heavy piece of work that is truly epic in its scope. It avoids boorish clichés but uses super-sized riffs as a foil to more tuneful interludes and considered lyrics that are much more than empty sloganeering.

Emperor of Sand is no sludge rock misery-fest but an album of competing contradictions


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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what an awesome album! can't stop listening, great songs, pure mastodon in the best way they can be! can't wait for my vinyl to arrive... check lyrics here if someone needs

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