Metal is a genre that we tend not to give a lot of love to in the is column. But this week we could not deny modern day metal masters Mastodon their moment in the sun. The band just dropped “Chimes at Midnight” to help pave the way for their upcoming new studio album Once More ‘Round the Sun which is released on June 24.
Nick Porcaro: Mastodon is back with yet another crushing slab of classic heavy metal. The band has maintained an impressive stream of commercial and critical successes dating back to 2002’s Remission, and it looks like their forthcoming album Once More ‘Round the Sun will continue the trend. “Chimes at Midnight” certainly packs a wallop, anchored by Brann Dailor’s unrelenting drum grooves that remind me of Iron Maiden’s “Phantom of the Opera”. Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher drop some serious riffage on guitar, too. The group twists and turns their way through six minutes of time and tempo changes without breaking a sweat. What’s not to love?
For one, I feel the vocal melodies could be stronger. The lead singer hits the top of his range on almost every lyric, an effect that initially impresses but ultimately tires. Varying the note choices could also have added another layer of intriguing harmony to the song’s fairly monotonous tonal palette. Finally, the aforementioned time signature change from 6/8 to 4/4 sounds unnatural, as if the band felt obligated to return to the intro without figuring out a proper transition first.
Even with these nitpicks I still have to hand it to Mastodon—their sound remains relevant, their riffs are thrilling, and their latest single deserves all the head-banging one can muster. Check this track out if you’re in the mood for some old-school metal. Verdict: Add to Playlist.
Jason Stives: It goes without saying that beyond the earliest of influences with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath that modern metal owes a lot to progressive rock. Warts and all, touted as being boring or silly, there is a level of intricacy and complexity in that music that took rock music from simple chord progressions to sprawling, long winded bits of music science.
Georgia metal heads Mastodon have said on numerous occasions that they were greatly influenced by King Crimson and listening to a track like “Chimes of Midnight” that can be heard loud and clear not that this is anything new. This climbing stairwell of metal evolution is constantly running at varying speeds through all its elements; pulsating double bass drums and dueling guitars that finger and wiggle with every riff. By the time it reaches its breath taking climax its putting the light on top of this scaling and layered piece of metal ferociousness. Well done, guys it’s a real corker. Verdict: Add to the Playlist
Lisa Pikaard: Mastodon is a little bit harder than my usual liking and five and a half minutes of the band was a bit daunting. The sound is solid, complex, pleasing and, ultimately, enjoyable except for the vocals. The vocals were just okay for me but I can’t complain about much else. The strength of this track was evident from the first second until the final beat. It starts off sounding a bit like the beginning of an Avenged Sevenfold track but then claims its own identity. I love the guitar throughout. In the end though, the vocals turn me off from the track leaving me with no choice but to say one and done. Verdict: One and done.
Bill Bodkin: Full disclosure — I’m not the most well-versed in prig rock. So if you want me to discuss time signatures and chord profession, it’s not going to happen. But, what I do know is metal. And Mastodon’s ‘Chimes at Midnight’ is killer. It’s complete with thick, dense and muscular riffs, intense vocals and this driving bass and drum one-two punch that is perfect for head banging. Verdict: Add to Playlist.
Final Verdict: Bring on the Masotodon! We recommend this track to all you metal heads out there!