By Luigi Sibona

Do you like you some badass riffage? ‘Course you do, it’s badass… Kings of badass riffage, Mastodon, are back with ‘Sultan’s Curse’, the first single from their new record, ‘Emperor of Sand’, and guess what? It’s pretty badass.

After what seems like an age of obtuse, cheeky teasing, on the 26th of January the Atlanta quartet saw fit to deliver a look at the upcoming album art accompanied by the release date of 31st March, they even teased a nugget of riff gold. If one were to get super nerdy, there’s a lot to dig into in the album art alone, the inclusion of the illustrious ‘Mastodon’ banner certainly gave me a tingle. And then BOOM, the next day they drop the record’s opener.

The band’s seventh studio album sees a return to the concept album framework that saw their first four LPs such acclaim. After having tackled fire (‘Remission’), water (‘Leviathan’), earth (‘Blood Mountain’) and air (‘Crack the Skye’), Mastodon set their sights on their most loaded themes yet, time and death. Nominally a narrative of a man roaming a desert after an encounter with the titular Emperor, a grim reaper-esque figure holding a death sentence, the album is an allegory for cancer, something that has plagued the members of Mastodon over recent years.

Produced by Brendan O’Brien who mixed their most trippy and most proggy of records, 2009’s ‘Crack the Skye’, ‘Sultan’s Curse’ has callbacks to the hazy psychedelia of that record. It plays like a celebration of the best elements of Mastodon’s career – you’ve got the sludgy riffs, the mythical growls of Troy Sanders Brent Hinds, Brann Dailor’s soaring cleans sailing over the mix… you’ve got the big rock hooks of their last two LPs, ‘Once More Round The Sun’ and ‘The Hunter’, and the more progressive trips of their heavier concept albums… it’s all very promising stuff.

Get excited, the best metal band making music today is making music today. And it’s fucking heavy. And it’s here. Today.

Listen to the new single, ‘Sultan’s Curse’ here:

‘Emperor of Sand’ will be released March 31st on Reprise Records