Atlanta's finest took a tentative step sideward with its last album The Hunter, adding stronger doses of melody to its prog-metal. Once More 'Round the Sun gets the balance dead on. Bringing back the tonnage cast aside prior, Mastodon refreshes its ravaging riffmongering while laying catchy melodies on even thicker than. The opening triptych of "Tread Lightly," "The Motherload," and "High Road" sandblasts doubts and cobwebs away with soaring tunes and roaring guitars. "Ember City" and "Feast Your Eyes" flash a long-suppressed jones for NWOBHM anthems. "Asleep in the Deep" and "Chimes at Midnight" keep the band's prog flames burning with organic tempo shifts and musicianly dynamics. Nodding to its past work, "Diamond in the Witch House" pounds old school, with growling vocals and lumbering crunch. Best of all, Mastodon assaults its new material with enthusiasm, as if the foursome had big grins on their faces as they tracked. Metal purists who still long for Leviathan Part 4 will find new reasons to excoriate their former saviors, but the rest will be too busy marveling at Mastodon's near-perfect fusion of might and melody.
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