Overkiller and other Mastodon haters need not apply
Speaking of Mastodon haters, if you hated the "twangy riffing" that was all over Blood Mountain, then you'll probably hate this too. Actually, it would be more accurate to say if you hated Blood Mountain, you'll hate this too.
This album is to Mastodon as to "Into Glory Ride" was to Manowar. Not much in the way of speed (though Mastodon never really was a speedy band, aside from a few Crusher Destroyers here and there), and there is a shit ton of slower stuff delving into psychadelic territory. Whether this has to do with Brett Hinds writing this album while jacked up on painkillers on other drugs after an ill-fated night at Las Vegas remains to be seen. Yea, this isn't going to be an album that is going to grab you by the throat and force you to headbang (with the possible exceptions of the middle sections of "The Czar" and "The Last Baron") But, at least upon first listen, it was fun to listen to.
One thing to note is that the vocal melodies (and consequently, the lyrics) are front and center in this album, this is a little weird for me, as usually the vocals are grunts and thus the lyrics have no meaning to me (I once told Brad the only Mastodon lyric I know is "into the black hole, searching for crystoooool"), so I would always be paying attention to the kick-ass instrumentation. But because the vocals and lyrics are not only front and center (possibly in the mix), and they're extremely melodic, it practically takes away from the instrumentation, therefore it takes a backseat. So whether or not the instrumentation is any good (Last Baron aside) will have to be discovered on repeated listens remains to be heard.
I am completely in love with "Oblivion," though that may have to do with this being the fifth time I've heard the song so far. If I was any less sane I'd call it the best song they've ever done.
I'll also say this, there does not seem to be any filler here. On all other Mastodon albums there was at least one track that could be thrown out the window, from the long irritating borefests like Trilobite, to all the "Outros" of the previous three (Joseph Merrick, etc.), each album before this just wasn't quite perfect. I can't say anything like that here...yet.
Fun fact: The line "I tried to burrow a hole into the ground, breaking all my fingers and nails from my hands" is a reference to a time that Brann Dailor was tripping on acid and tried to dig up his sister's grave two weeks after she committed suicide. I read about it today in Revolver.