Welcome to Dissected, where we disassemble a band’s catalog, a director’s filmography, or some other critical pop-culture collection. It’s exact science by way of a few beers. This time, we follow Mastodon’s impressive career, from their 2002 debut, Remission, to their most recent effort, 2021’s Hushed and Grim.
Atlanta quartet Mastodon have spent 20-plus years as one of the most daring, dexterous, and delightfully badass metal bands of the new millennium. That’s no small feat considering how many forward-thinking acts are out there. However, it’s hard to disagree given the foursome’s unparalleled knack for channeling influences like Iron Maiden, Neurosis, Pink Floyd, and King Crimson into wholly characteristic concoctions of vibrant sludge/stoner/progressive metal madness.
From the beginning — with 2002’s savage Remission and 2004’s more sophisticated Leviathan, the group — comprised of singer-bassist Troy Sanders, singer-guitarist Brent Hinds, singer-drummer Brann Dailor, and guitarist Bill Kelliher — showcased a singular ability to fuse thunderous temperaments with remarkable melodic flair and toweringly epic scopes. Of course, 2006’s Blood Mountain followed, offering a superbly colorful, elaborate, and zany full realization of that recipe.
Afterward, 2009’s comparatively spacey and accessible Crack the Skye emphasized the band’s 1970s prog rock influences. Then, 2011’s The Hunter and 2014’s Once More ‘Round the Sun basically acted as hodgepodges of their predecessors’ standout proclivities. 2017’s Emperor of Sand saw the palpable return of Crack the Skye producer Brendan O’Brien, while 2021’s Hushed and Grim expectedly provided the troupe’s most mature and extensive collection so far.
Along the way, they’ve had several LPs peak highly on the Billboard 200. They’ve also been nominated for many prestigious awards (earning a Grammy win in 2017 for Best Metal Performance), and featured in numerous video games (including Tony Hawk’s Underground and Guitar Hero III), movies (such as Monsters University and Bill & Ted Face the Music), and TV (Game of Thrones).
While there really is no weak Mastodon album, some are simply more special than others. With the band set to kick off its co-headlining US tour with Opeth (tickets available here), we’ve penned this definitive rating of their eight studio albums. Hunt down our ranking below.