Mastodon reveals atmospheric, time signature-skipping new single, Sickle and Peace

Bill Kelliher playing live with Mastodon
(Image credit: Xavi Torrent/Redferns via Getty)

Mastodon have shared the third single from their upcoming studio effort Hushed and Grim, the eerily atmospheric Sickle and Peace.

Hushed and Grim will be the Grammy Award-winning quartet’s eighth studio album and their first in four years – aside from 2020’s compilation effort – following 2017’s Emperor of the Sand.

Described by the band as their “most ambitious body of work to date”, the extended two-disc offering is only days away from its release date – October 29 – and will be released via Reprise Records.

Joining up with the previously released Teardrinker and Pushing The Tides, Sickle and Peace takes a slightly different approach, and instead relies on a quirky rhythmic intrigue and off-kilter electric guitar melodies to tap into the band’s progressive roots.

The beat-skipping six-string lines – which are propped up by some pinpoint drumming pick-ups fueled by delicate dances on the hi-hat – are carefully curated and executed with elite precision, making Sickle and Peace arguably the most sonically engaging effort the band has released from their current crop of tracks.

That’s not to say there aren’t some heavy-hitting moments, though. A rigid time signature and flowing, wave-like tempo is locked in during the chorus, which cranks up the gain for some punishing chordal punches and lead licks that float in the mix’s upper register.

Later on, the four-minute mark ushers in Sickle and Peace’s guitar solo, which offers everything you’d expect: some tentative, momentum-building melodic lines that lead up to a dizzying flurry of rapid-fire scale runs and whole-note bends.

It is, once again, a teasing taste of what promises to be a comprehensive album stylistically, and a testament to the range Mastodon are aiming to achieve when the two-disc offering finally arrives.

Of the upcoming double album, Kelliher recently told Talking Metal (transcribed by Metal Hammer), “We all just kind of [went into it] with open minds. The result is amazing. It’s the fullest-, biggest-sounding record we’ve done so far.”

  • Hushed and Grim is available to preorder now ahead of its October 29 release.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.