When all is said and done, Mastodon may well go down as the most important American heavy metal band of their generation – what Metallica was to the ‘80s and Pantera to the ‘90s.

Bold words, to be sure, but what other American band has produced such a consistently innovative and unique discography, succeeding commercially on their own terms while leading heavy metal’s ongoing evolution instead of following its assorted movements and scenes.

Mastodon’s music stands apart from all that. It ain’t metalcore, deathcore, thrash metal or even progressive metal, which they’ve only been labeled for lack of a better term. If anyone sounds like Mastodon, it’s their imitators because, certainly, no one sounded quite like Mastodon before Mastodon.

Though the band was assembled by experienced musicians (guitarist Bill Kelliher and drummer Brann Dailor had played together in Lethargy and Today is the Day, bassist Troy Sanders and guitarist Brent Hinds in Four Hour Fogger), they immediately carved a musical direction all their own with the technically proficient sludge metal of 2001’s Lifesblood EP and the next year’s full-length Remission.

But Mastodon really took off once they started infusing a broader array of heavy metal and even classic rock influences (Thin Lizzy, anyone?) into their insistently powerful style on 2004’s Leviathan, ‘06’s Blood Mountain and ‘09’s Crack the Skye – all of which qualified as full-fledged concept albums, lending further depth to their likewise persistent intricate musicianship.

Subsequent albums The Hunter (2011) and Once More ‘Round the Sun (2014) found the band dropping those conceptual ambitions so as to focus on finessing their songwriting skills, losing none of their experimental penchant and immediately identifiable style, along the way, and putting fans on the edge of their seats, wondering what may come next.

Until we can find out, click through the gallery above to see how we've ranked Mastodon’s albums.

Bill Kelliher Plays 'Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?'

Troy Sanders Plays 'Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?'

More From Loudwire