Strangely enough, this is the third Medium Rarities album in three years by three different bands. Weird Al in 2017 had one, Cattle Decapitation in 2018, and now the torch is passed to the lords of epic stoner lightning in 2020 with Mastodon’s Medium Rarities, a 16-track primordial soup of savagery.
Atlanta’s finest gifted the world with an hour-plus of treasures on September 11th, as a bridge between their acclaimed Emperor of Sand and whatever destructive path they lay next. Not only are there excellent live selections, like the Mars Volta zig-zags of “Capillarian Crest” and the hunt-or-be-hunted quest of “Circle of Cysquatch”, but there are some fascinating surprises on top of the mountain as well.
Compilation albums are a fan-favorite niche to cater to the diehard fan, so to stand out, bands must offer that kind of holy grail to keep the interest alive. Game of Thrones fans will be enchanted by the original track “White Walker”, which embeds a fantastical march of the wicked ones and is a remarkable song. Fans will also hear the fresh offering of “Fallen Torches” which sounds like the devastation of Sodom and Gomorrah. Mastodon leaves no stones unturned in their stampede. They even resort to their roots and recruit Butthole Surfers’ own Gibby Haynes for “Atlanta.”
The covers are astounding. Kerrang asked Mastodon to do a version of Metallica’s “Orion” for a Master of Puppets tribute album and they absolutely bring it justice. They say in an interview that they wanted to cover “Orion” because it represented “the beauty and the beast of Metallica”. They also mesmerize with a Flaming Lips track “A Spoonful Weighs a Ton” from The Soft Bulletin.
For those looking for instrumentals to play along to, that demographic will not be disappointed either. The gritty, bearded sinners give the twangy, clappy “Toe To Toes”, “Jaguar God” from Emperor of Sand, and “Halloween” just in time for All-Hallows Eve. Plug in your guitar and release your inner Brent Hines.
Mastodon sounds molten, raw, and marinated in the 2020 collection provided by Reprise Records. It is truly a fun and captivating collaboration which is a tease for what is to come. For fans of the sacred, the profane, and the tantalizingly twisted, Medium Rarities is a dark delight.