Mastodon’s new album Medium Rarities is out now via Reprise Records.
As a long time fan of Mastodon and their perfect blend of sludge and prog metal, Medium Rarities is a sigh of relief in a year where I found myself unexcitable about other bands new releases. Unfortunately, this is only a compilation album but there is news of an album releasing sometime in the next year. Not much needs to be explained about the prog metal giants that make up Mastodon. Combing sludge, prog and hard rock, Mastodon is a band that has reigned the metal charts, spanning a 20-year career that was propelled forward by the release of their debut album Remission in 2002. Originating from Atlanta, Mastodon was formed by Troy Sanders (bass/vocals), Brent Hinds (lead guitar/vocals), Bill Kelliher (rhythm guitar/backing vocals), and Brann Dailor (drums/vocals).
Medium Rarities spans 16 tracks, featuring a previously unreleased song titled ‘Fallen Torches’ featuring Scott Kelly from Neurosis, who is the not so secret 5th member of the band as he is a prominent guest across the band’s discography. The rest of the album is made up of live performances featuring tracks like ‘Circle of Cysquatch’, instrumental tracks from songs such as ‘Asleep in the Deep’ and covers from bands such as Metallica, Butthole Surfers and Feist. So far so good as compilations album go.
‘Fallen Torches’ is a song that doesn’t need too much explaining. It is a classic Bill Kelliher riff full of pinch harmonics with a copious amount of drum fills which is all accompanied by Troy’s thunderous vocals. The song starts to slow as Scott Kelly makes his appearance with his signature drawn out, raspy vocals and sustained screams that is sadly short lived but is made up for by a riff that is the definition of headbanging.
This is immediately followed by an awe inspiring, mouth dropping cover of ‘A Commotion’ by Feist. After listening to the original before Mastodons cover, I was curious to see how they would interpret the song and make it their own. They did so with ease, immediately making it unique to their own sound. It is a song I wish and pray they will play live once it is safe to do so again. If you don’t plan on listening to this compilation album please take the time to listen to this cover. You will not regret it.
As a die-hard listener of their 2006 album Blood Mountain, I was over the moon seeing live recordings of ‘Circle of Cysquatch’ and ‘Capillarian Crest’. I have seen the band live and I enjoyed every second of it. They are a band that are perfectly capable of performing their songs without fail and make their shows memorable in some way, shape or form for each audience member whether it be playing old material or bringing Scott Kelly on tour with them to perform songs such as ‘Crack the Skye’.
Nearing the end of the listening journey is a cover of ‘Orion’ by one of the biggest bands to walk the earth, Metallica. Covering Metallica is never an easy task but I believe Mastodon did a great job covering this 8-minute monster of a track.
There is not too much to say about Medium Rarities. It is a great compilation album and gets me looking forward to the future where I can see them play again and listen to a new album. It had its stand out tracks and covers that I thoroughly enjoyed but it wasn’t quite what I was hoping for when the band first started teasing something new coming in the year 2020. However, I am looking forward to seeing what is in store in the future from Mastodon.