If the idea of Mastodon providing the soundtrack to an animated Cylon remake of Nicolas Winding Refn’s ‘Drive’ in the style of 1980s boobfest ‘Heavy Metal’ gets you gurning, then Arcadea may just be the Zig to your Zag. Formed of Brann Dailor (Mastodon), Core Atoms (Zruda) and Raheem Amlani (Withered), the band instantly bring to mind Dailor’s day job, but with layers of synths where once lay guitars, all underpinned by the prolific sticksmith’s unmistakably bendy-limbed drumming, as if someone has created a Masto-tron 2000 and cranked the 80s setting up to 11. Tracks like ‘Electromagnetic’ and the ironically titled ‘Pull of Invisible Strings’ thunder along, their bare essence worthy of any Mastodon release, but as intriguing as the concept of electro-prog-sludge sounds, the overriding sensation is one of loss. The truth is that keyboards lack the nuances of the guitar (hence why keytars are generally regarded with the same level of scorn as a NunSlaughter t-shirt at a church raffle), meaning the riffs, such as they are, lack the oomph that comes from twatting six metal wires, and when a riff or beatdown rears its feral head, the sense that it would be better with a wall of squealing guitars is agonising. What we are left with is basically a bass-line overdubbed with a constant swirl of spooky laser effects that struggle to create a meaningful tune. Played for laughs over the course of an EP, Arcadea could have been an interesting proposition, but even though ‘Motion of Planets’ offers a hint of humour, as a whole the album is surprisingly earnest, and as a result unsurprisingly tedious, wearing out its welcome long before the 40 mins are up. In many ways Arcadea is the Mastodon album MonkHammer wanted from ‘Emperor of Sand’, just performed on the wrong instruments. Re-record it with guitars and we’ll have something to talk about, but as it stands, it’s 10/10 for effort but 0.808 for the results.