Mastodon, ‘The Hunter’ (Reprise)
Mastodon do after 2009’s well-regarded but overbaked prog slab Crack the Skye? They do the tighten up, cranking out their most thrillingly straightforward hard rock ever on The Hunter. Songs like “Curl of the Burl,” the galloping “Specterlight,” and the kinetic, catchy “Blasteroid” keep the riffs simple without lapsing into banality. The Atlanta outfit’s music often has been like having sex with a breathtaking partner who insists on changing positions every 20 seconds; here, they find a consistent fist-pumping rhythm, and everyone leaves exhilarated.