Mastodon – Remission (2002) Review

Pretty heavy, huh.

Mastodon are a very, very good band, and they’re one of my absolute favourites. However, I’m pretty sure 7th in my top ten bands list is too low, and I’m thinking probably it would be more like 5th if I was in the right frame of mind when writing it (but I wasn’t drunk, don’t worry!). You’ll also know how much I like their music if you saw my review of Crack the Skye, their masterpiece from 2009, which officially became one of the best ever years when I listened to the album.

Anyway, Remission was their debut release; so it’s quite different from their later albums, but still with the fundamental sort of structure that the later albums hold. But, yeah, there’s a bit of a different sound to it. One word I could use to describe it is heavy. Or fast. Or mad? Yes. It’s all of those more than following albums, at least — especially heavy.

I always thought of Mastodon as prog, with metal (other than The Hunter); until I listened to Remission. It’s an album that is exceptionally hard-hitting, with heavy drumming and deep, loud power chords and bass; and growling/roaring vocals for the most part, by Troy Sanders. So it has a very heavy sound, and I like that — a lot. And, interestingly, it’s a bit doom metal-y, if you know what I mean… And I really like that. It’s helped by Troy Sanders’ aggressive vocals, though, which add to the heavy and dark sound: and it’s fantastic.

And there’s some fantastic songs in the record too, which will go down as some of my favourite Mastodon songs, probably. Firstly, there’s March of the Fire Ants, which is an exceedingly powerful song which gets the album into full swing at track two: four minutes of great doom-y, progressive metal, after a mad opening song in Crusher Destroyer. Then there’s Ol’e Nessie, which is the album’s first progressive masterpiece; and Trilobite, which is an amazing song which has some fantastic intervals and an amazing doom-y bit.

It is different sounding from other Mastodon records, so it’s a bit of a shock to listen to it when you’ve been used to the more refined, clean guitar based music of them. Refined? Well, yes; later Mastodon does sound more refined, and has a much cleaner sound. However, Remission’s raw sound is very enjoyable to listen to – albeit probably not as enjoyable to listen to as the sound of other albums — and probably not quite as good.

It is clear that the album’s the band’s debut: because it’s clear the sound is a work in progress. It isn’t as refined, or as clean, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing; but the music definitely isn’t structured as well. It just seems a little too all over the place, and some of the instrumentals are too long, and the use of progressive intervals aren’t used to their full potential at various points. Moreover, the band hadn’t been introduced to the idea of choruses yet, so there’s a bit missing out there: even if there’s a possibility it wouldn’t fit with the rest of the sound, I think it would add something extra good to it.

Furthermore, there are probably too much instrumentals, which unfortunately go on for too long and are occasionally, I assure you, a bit repetitive.

But everything in the album is working towards an achievable goal, to create a unique, impressively heavy, dark and mad sound. It isn’t Mastodon at their best, and that’s clear; but there’s a unique sound to the album, and one that is fantastic: and there are some fantastic songs in what is a very good album, ultimately.

P.S. The drumming is very good.


Remission is a mad album. It’s dark, it’s fast, it’s doom metal-y, and it’s also very, very heavy; it’s also got roaring vocals all the way through from Troy Sanders, which are very powerful. And that’s very good. It’s also different from other Mastodon works, and makes a claim for itself with its impressive sound: with some very, very good songs – namely Trilobite. However, the sound isn’t as refined as in later records, and the album’s quality is inconsistent; with too many instrumentals which can go on for too long and a structure that’s probably too all over the place.

But it’s a brilliant album, and surprisingly – for me – close to the quality of later Mastodon albums.

So I give it: 87/100.

– Speedy.

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