When an album is highly anticipated by fans and critics alike, expectations can reach unrealistic heights. Mastodon recently celebrated the release of their sixth studio album, ‘Once More ‘Round the Sun,’ and the disc is receiving acclaim for not just its stellar music, but also for its stunning artwork.

Over the course of nearly 15 years, Mastodon have evolved as a band sonically and visually. Always a band to incorporate vivid artwork and production with their albums' packaging, the vinyl edition of 'Once More 'Round the Sun' might just be one of the best releases of the year.

The deluxe vinyl edition features two 180-gram records housed in a quadruple gatefold jacket, which means the jacket unfolds into four panels. "That was a dream come true," Brann Dailor tells Loudwire in an exclusive interview. Not only does Dailor drum for Mastodon, but he's also a huge fan of vinyl. "We wanted to go as far as you can take it, you know? We were inspired by a Yes album for the quadruple gatefold. I just needed an example to let me know that it was doable!"

While the unique gatefold is reason enough to pick up this limited edition vinyl, the most striking element of the release lies in the artwork. Designed by Oakland-based artist Skinner, the art of 'Once More 'Round the Sun' is absolutely captivating and terrifying all at the same time. "It's a beautiful hell," Dailor enthuses.

The drummer actually played a significant role in getting Skinner involved with the record. "He came to stay with me for like a week and we just sort of talked about it, sort of briefly,
Dailor explains. "He dove in head first. I told him it should be these four panels and said I kind of want it to open up in a big quadruple gatefold kind of thing so people can hold it on their lap and listen to the album and just dive into all that crazy art. I knew that he was the guy for the job. He gets so intricate with his art, I just told him to go nuts."

Dailor goes on, "I told him just do what you do. There wasn’t much art direction, he doesn’t really need it. We gave him demos of everything and just stayed in touch a lot during the process. He was sending me bits and pieces. When it all started to unfold, I knew it was going to be so cool."

Skinner isn't the first artist Mastodon have worked this close with. Paul Romano collaborated with the band up until 'The Hunter,' which saw the work of wood carver AJ Fosik come to fruition. "Everyone we’ve worked with is so super talented. We’re so lucky to be the kind of band that can call on any number of incredible artists. It’s reciprocal as far as how they feel about the band," Dailor humbly admits. "That's amazing."

The vinyl enthusiast understands the direct connection between art and music. Dailor knows that connection is just one of many reasons why vinyl is so important to Mastodon's fans. "For our fans and for fans of Gojira and Baroness, they’re into that whole thing, into vinyl and the visual art. That marriage between the two," Dailor remarks. "I think our fans like to go on a journey with the record and sit down and listen to the whole thing. A lot of the kids are audiophiles, too, and are just really into it. As opposed to more monetarily motivated musics that are out there where they’re sort of one and done -- here’s a song and it’s a throwaway and you wouldn’t want to sit down and listen to the whole record. It’s not the same thing."

Making an even more accessible connection between the music and art, as part of the deluxe vinyl edition Mastodon include four individual lithographs of Skinner's work. As you can see in the photos below, the lithographs comprise the artwork of the four panels in the quadruple gatefold. Dailor tells us, "We’re just big fans of visual art and want to do everything we can to maintain the marriage between the two things, music and visual art."

In addition to everything previously mentioned, the limited edition of 'Once More 'Round the Sun' also includes a full-color lyric insert as well as the entire album on CD. If you want to grow your vinyl collection -- or simply get your hands on one of the most visually and audibly impressive releases of the year -- Mastodon's latest endeavor needs to find its way into your stack of records.

'Once More Round the Sun' is available in a number of formats, including digital and CD. If you're looking for the vinyl edition, get all the details here.

Mastodon, 'Once More 'Round the Sun' - Deluxe Vinyl Edition