Mastodon and Burnt by the Sun

SXSW Records

Phases and Stages

Mastodon

Remission (Relapse)

Burnt by the Sun

Soundtrack to the Personal Revolution (Relapse) Philadelphia's Relapse Records has blossomed in recent years as the headquarters of complex metal, hardcore, stoner rock, and all sorts of extreme heaviness. On their debut, Soundtrack to the Personal Revolution, New Jersey's Burnt by the Sun betrays their hardcore background, many songs clocking in at under two minutes. The lyrics, meanwhile, rant obtusely against consumerism. So obtusely, in fact, that Mike Olender's lyrics are more or less indecipherable, his raw-throated command blurring out any actual verbiage. Heavy slabs of punchy riffage give way to unpredictable grindcore interludes, the sheer density of the music rallying fiercely against sloth and greed on tracks like "Soundtrack to the Worst Movie Ever." Atlanta labelmates Mastodon take a little more time on their debut, Remission, which lies more in the traditional Metallica thrash canon, mathy tempos and sudden rhythmic shifts making evident why they toured extensively with the Dillinger Escape Plan last year. Bill Kelliher and Brent Hinds shred like madmen on tracks like "March of the Fire Ants," highlighted by exhilarating Maiden-style guitar interplay before devolving back into meaty, low-end fury. Troy Sanders' angry vocals on "Workhorse" roar with the ruckus, in the style of the Unsane. "Ol'e Nessie" follows in stark contrast, its heavy, patient progression burrowing a hole straight through your skull. Closer "Elephant Man" reveals a soft underbelly to this beast, layers of clean guitar snaking through a stripped-down melodic tango that hints at the evolution for Mastodon, which has churned out one of the finer metal albums in recent memory. (Emo's Annex, Friday, March 14, midnight (Mastodon), 1am (Burnt by the Sun)

(Mastodon) ****

(Burnt by the Sun) ***

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