Mastodon is truly the Mensa Society of the metal scene, having fashioned concept albums around Melville’s “Moby-Dick” and czarist Russia. This latest release is more about “the life and times of each person in the band during the past year,” according to guitarist Bill Kelliher. Various to-hell-and-back scenarios generally end quite positively: The slamming title track notes that “life can turn on a dime, so let’s enjoy our time,” while the blazing, Pantera-like “Feast Your Eyes” climaxes with “you stick with me and prevail as one.” Mastodon still boasts three singers and a multitude of styles — the sludgy Judas Priest wail of “High Road,” the Black Sabbath-like crunch of “The Motherload,” the proggy “Asleep in the Deep” — but the new music is more song-oriented, with a verse-chorus format versus some of the loosely knit, stretched-out mayhem of the past. And when the tune “Aunt Lisa” ends with “hey ho, let’s get up and rock ’n’ roll,” it might seem like pandering — but you know that Mastodon means it. (Out Tuesday) STEVE MORSE

Essential “Asleep in the Deep”