I totally forgot about this record after a week of it being released. [Note: He really did.] That might sound unfair given how much metal mastery is at show here, but the truth is that Hushed and Grim is a bit of a slog. There’s no need for it to be 90 minutes long. Very few records justify such length, and Mastodon don’t offer enough variation to keep up attention spans. At least, not mine.
There are clear standout songs, but none of them reach the same heights as Crack the Skye. Unfortunately, the flashes of greatness aren’t enough to help Hushed and Grim being completely overstuffed. Closing track “Gigantium” is great and all, but it’s not worth sitting through 80 minutes of this for. Still, long-time fans will likely adore it. I’m happy that they’re happy. If you need me, I’ll be listening to Fortitude.
6 out of 10
It’s a strange feeling to have so little to say about something there’s so much of. Hushed and Grim listens like the metal equivalent of the Penrose steps. You could listen to it forever and get nowhere.
Is it a bad record? Absolutely not. I dare say metal fans will appreciate having so much material to pummel their ears with. It’s just so, so long, which makes its lack of depth all the more glaring. It’s like an ankle deep ocean.
5 out of 10
The most telling thing is that, despite it lasting an hour and a half, I don’t have a lot to say about Hushed and Grim. Aesthetically and structurally it’s out and out Mastodon, but it’s spread so thinly that its better ideas get lost in its duration. As much fun as its riffs can be, as much as I enjoy the vibrant, crunching tone, and as often as I find myself nodding along to its energetic composition, the album feels like a product of veterans going through the motions. For a really long time.
Some of the Mastodon’s quirkier approaches to lyricism and melodies feel pegged back, but the injections of fun, memorable licks and shifts in tempo do a good job of calling for attention as the runtime wears on. Nevertheless, midway through the second disc you’ve seen everything there is to see. There’s a lot here I would come back to, but between those moments there are so many voids of fun but forgettable wandering that it’s hard not to get bored long before it’s over.
6 out of 10