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Heavy metal band continues to create relatable music

Brie Coder

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Mastodon’s newest album pays homage to cancer victims. Mastodon is an American metal band that has been around since 2000. Just last month, Mastodon released their seventh studio album, “Emperor of Sand.” Fans waited three years from the release of their previous album, “Once More Round the Sun,” for this most current album. “Emperor of Sand” has already topped the Billboard charts, ranking in at number seven. What makes thisalbum even more compelling is the story that is being told.

Percussionist Brann Dailor and bassist Troy Sanders said in their documentary “The Making of Emperor of Sand,” (available on Youtube), that the album was about a desert wanderer who just received word that they were diagnosed with cancer. Each song informs the listener what the wanderer is deciding to do. Should they go in for chemotherapy, or not receive medical treatmentand just pass away naturally? For thosewho have not listened to the album yet, I will not say what the wanderer decides to do. The message that Mastodon was trying to state was that they wanted fans to realize how life-changing it can be to be diagnosed with such a horrible disease. The reason behind the theme of the album is that several of theband mates have hadmembers of their families diagnosed with cancer and have either survived or passed.

This is not the first concept album from the band that has entailed a personal story. Their fourth studio album, “Crack the Skye,” released in 2009, told the story of Dailor’s sister, who committed suicide at the age of 14. The album described an out-of-body experience. In the scenario depicted by the album, a soul is trying to stop its body from making any mistakesthat could drastically change their life.

Another album of theirs, “Leviathan,” tells the entire story of “Moby Dick.” Each song on the album summarizes a certain chapter within the book. The artistic drive behind Mastodon’s albums is what makes their fan base increase each and every time a new album is released. They are telling a story to their fans with their music. Audiences can also relate to the band because the group demonstrates that they have been there and understand what the real world is like.

The most popular song that has been getting airtime off of “Emperor of Sand,” is called “Show Yourself.” Many fans are still trying to comprehend whathe meaning of thesong is. Some music critics think since the song is played in the beginning of the album and describes when the wandererfinds out that they have been diagnosed with cancer, that it is the wanderer trying to tell the disease to “show yourself,” in other words, prove that you really exist within me. Some think it is the physicalchange within the character when pursuing the chemotherapy treatment.

What Mastodon has done with their songs off this album is make their fans think on a deeper level. They want their fans to read between the lines and not to take the lyrics at face value. Instead, try to come up with a deeper meaning to the words that are being sung.

As a fan of Mastodon’s, I can say this is yet another album of theirs that does not disappoint. Their hardwork has truly paid off in this album. It also gives fans another opportunity to understand them on a personal level. Without a doubt, I would give this album a five-star rating.

On May 13, Mastodon will be performing live at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. The ticketsare currently on saleand only cost $37.50. Each ticket purchase will include a digital or physical copy of “Emperor of Sand.” More information can be found on their website or

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Heavy metal band continues to create relatable music