Mastodon’s new album, The Hunter, definitely threw me for a loop the first listen through. It’s quirky and heavy on vocal melodies, which makes it more accessible, while being paired with a simplified structure that makes many of the songs quite catchy. This may sound like the music is going to be Mastodon-lite, but really, they’re still playing technical music with a progressive bent. They still offer up a ton of crazy riffs and heaviness, such as on “Octopus Has No Friends,” “Spectrelight” and “Bedazzled Fingernails.” My personal favorite, “Blasteroid,” is a heavy hybrid of prog-rock and metal that throws in an excellent tongue-in-cheek chorus of I wanna drink some fucking blood, I wanna break some fucking glass. The song that best captures their new rock focus is “Thickening,” which starts out as a bluesy, spacey instrumental. It gathers steam, the vocals come in, and then the song explodes into heavy riffing and soloing. They misstep on a few of their more commercial tracks, but it’s overall a great record that fans will enjoy for different reasons.