Mastodon’s Empirical March Of The Sands
28th March 2017, 11:55
Posted by Tristan

The concept album. An unattainable zenith for some in the music world. Well versed in the art, Mastodon were practically born to write with concept in mind. Layering melody, rhythm and story to create something altogether transcendental from the mere confines of music. Centering on a theme for each release, we’ve treated to a plethora of ideas. From the space dimension exploratory Crack The Skye, the inner quest in Blood Mountain and of course the beautiful take on Moby Dick that was Leviathan. The band are the very essence of unique. Having put their previous release ‘Once More Round The Sun to bed, the band venture into the cosmos once more for the bewitching Emperor of Sand


  1. Sultan’s Curse
  2. Show Yourself
  3. Precious Stones
  4. Steambreather
  5. Roots Remain
  6. Word To The Wise
  7. Ancient Kingdom
  8. Clandestiny
  9. Andromeda
  10. Scorpion Breath
  11. Jaguar God

Length: 50:00
Label: Warner Music
Release date: March 31st 2017

After the celestial tinkering of the initial section of “Sultan’s Curse” has beguiled the listener we’re immediately then smacked down with the elephantine sounds that leave that lasting Mastodon imprint. Using the band as a conduit towards emotion, despite their enchanting tones of faraway tales, Emperor of Sand is perhaps the band’s most honest offering to date. Amongst the onion like conceptual layers lies the unifying principle of mortality. Exploring the understanding of death via our character who is cursed to wander the arid plains forever until his demise. Being a metaphor for the universal affliction, as we have all no doubt experienced, the effects of cancer have an impact that ripples throughout life and have most recently touched the band in some way or another

With this in mind the record contains a darker quality to the material that the band have put forward previous. Despite this however, major keys of “Precious Stones“, where we see Hinds take the vocal spotlight temporarily sees a positive upbeat sound. Dominated by Dailor’s vocals the brilliantly titled “Steambreather” puts the higher, more melodic approach forward particularly in the track’s chorus section. The enveloping of “Roots Remain” sees where Mastodon return to their 2007 – 2009 sound. The palaeolithic sound the band pioneered returns yet now coalescing with their newer vidiom, courtesy in part to Dailor’s fantastic vocals, in particular the bridge section that take on a Psychedelic yet poignant, funerary acceptance. Not to mention the dissonant “Andromeda” a tip of that hat to “Naked Burn” perhaps? Even a slight throwback nature of Crack The Skye quality “Scorpion Breath” where our protagonist seeks resolve.

Embracing their progressive nature, Emperor of Sand positions itself high atop the band’s list of records as some of the band’s best work. Never afraid to experiment the record treads new ground for the band in the shape of punishing “Clandestiny” all the while encapsulating exactly what the band embody. Specifically present in the majestic bow of “Jaguar God“, bringing elements they have cultivated throughout their evolution as band together to create a truly resplendent grand finale that will have you kick starting the enchantment all over again. Here lies Emperor of Sand’s genius, treading that fine line between modesty and musical affluence, Mastodon know exactly when to use colour and when to focus on primary details. As the final demonic laughs closethe record out, it merely makes you want to experience the beautiful nuances all over again. Certainly not a mirage the Emperor of Sand absolutely spectacular.

The neanderthal’s have proven that, once again that none are their equal. Creating a mystifying album that is as courageous as it is fearful. A perfect balance of songs that are as memorable as they are mysterious.

If you like what you read / heard then you can pick up the record here!