Metal can be a funny thing. On one hand, when done correctly, it’s a remarkably complex style of music that blends expert musicianship with practically medieval celebrations of all things EVIL...or at least bad feelings. On the other, it’s also largely about grown ass men dressing up in leather cod pieces (armor!) and spiky bracelets (swords!) and as such is often something that is very hard to take seriously, mainly because it’s hard to imagine that the purveyors of METALLLL(!!!!!) take it that seriously themselves.
Well, thank Cthulu that Mastodon takes themselves seriously. Very seriously.
Coming together like some four headed leviathan out of one of their songs, the men of Mastodon offered no shelter from their sonic assault on audience. Bombs exploded as drummer Brann Dailor kicked out insane time signatures on the double bass. Mountains collapsed on the crowd as the dual guitars of Bill Kelliher and Brent Hinds shredded together into a thunderous roar. All the while singer/bass player yelped and growled, doing his damndest to bring forth the dark lord from the deepest circles of hell to claim the sacrifices that his minions were offering up to him this particular evening. I know, it all sounds ridiculously hyperbolic, but when you’re talking about METALLLL(!!!!!) then this is really the only appropriate lexicon available to accurately describe just what Mastodon is like live.
But you want laymen’s terms, right? OK.
In short, Mastodon, with the release of The Hunter (one of this years best albums btw) and now with the show they’ve taken on the road to support it, have, after 11 years, turned into a group of for powerfully masterful musicians. So much so that rather than rely on theatrics (though there were a few minor ones) the band can simply play there songs, absolutely crush them (and I do mean crush) and put on one of the most powerful live acts you are likely to see this year.
In fact, if there is any complaint to be had, it’s that the band may be too powerful for its own good. Clocking it at just around 90 minutes, their set showcased songs from The Hunter (for the record, ”Curl of the Burl” may be the one of the best “pop” metal songs of the past 10 years), largely ignored 2009’s excellent Crack The Skye (only “Ghost of Karelia” and “Crack The Skye” from that album) and fearlessly explored much of their earlier work (“I Am Ahab” from 2007’s Leviathan and “Capillarian Crest” from 2006’s none-more-metal-titled Blood Mountain were standouts) to produce an absolute gut punch of a set that bruised as much as it bowled over. Short on dynamics and absolutely huge on hyper-powered aggression, by the time the band brought the members of Dillinger Escape Plan and Red Fang out onstage to sing background vocals on a show closer “Creature Lives” (yes there was a sing-a-long at a Mastodon show) it’s a wonder that anyone in the audience was left standing.
BIG. SCARY. METALLL(!!!!)
But that’s the point isn’t it? Vanquish your foes. Conquer the enemy. Beat them into submission until they willfully worship at your altar. It’s what metal is all about, and if Mastodon gets any better than this it looks like we’re all going to have some new overlords to be bowing down to, and soon.
PS. Hail Satan.