Mastodon – Lifesblood

4 out of 5

Label: Relapse

Produced by: Matt Washburn

You’ll notice that when I reviewed Lifesblood’s tracks as part of the compilation Call of the Mastodon, I mentioned that its earnestness to be as loud as possible – giving in to some hardcore / metal tropes – was something of a detriment to allowing the album to come across as something wholly unique.  Interestingly, while I’d still hold that to be true when listening to the original presentation of these tracks, a slightly less boisterous mastering (even though I don’t see evidence that Call was remastered, it sounds louder) makes a huge difference: you can hear all of that beloved Mastodon complexity even while they’re doing the over-the-top hardcore shuffle.  Last track Battle at Sea is especially killer, sounding fairly close to the more drawn out shifts and twists they’d be executing on later albums.  And perhaps it’s hearing the sequencing without being mashed up with the songs from their debut 7″, but Lifesblood’s tracks hang together very effectively, giving off a clear impression of a band-to-watch as opposed to the “I’ve heard this before” feeling I got from the later representation.

It’s weird, I know.  But whatever: I’m much more apt to listen to Lifesblood than I am Call, and that gives me all sortsa justifiable authority to rate this higher than that album.