This band proved to me that you didn't have to be fast to be intense, that you could be melodic and still be brutal, that you could be heavy and still be trippy. What more can one ask for?
Based out of the ATL (Georgia), Mastodon came together in 1999. The line-up consists of bassist/vocalist Troy Sanders, guitarist/vocalist Brent Hinds, guitarist Bill Kellliher and drummer Brann Dailor.
With their sludgey riffs, psychedelic sound-scapes and insane drumming, Mastodon started to create an almost-instant buzz in the world of metal.
Dailor furiously assaults the skins in what sounds like constant fills. Even without watching him play, you know that his hands and feet are a constant blur. Actually watching him play will confirm this. The guitar work is top notch, showcasing not only Hinds impressive chops and Kelliher's deliciously understated style, but this guitar duo-ship's pure synergy, the ebb & flow as they pummel your aural sense is truly amazing. From juxta-posing a clean, mellow guitar melody with something chunky, ungainly and damn near primitive, to their shred-tastic guitarmony's, these fuckers can PLAY. Sanders' bass technique is generally very subdued. Very much "in the pocket" that a lot of bass players try to settle into. Filling in the low-end with out detracting from the guitar work... But that doesn't mean that he can't pound that bass with the big boys. Troy is a wholly impressive bass man, going from low-end background rumble to in your face, blowing your mind with technique and back again, before you've had a chance to understand what just happened to your ears. Mastodon's vocals are unique in that, though Hinds and Sanders are the primary vocalists, doesn't mean that Kelliher and Dailor don't join in on the microphone fun. The vocals are generally layered one over another, creating what sounds like a cognizant roar, a primordial sound that makes you want to run for cover because your inner Neanderthal thinks a Sabretooth is getting ready to have you for lunch.
After hearing "March of the Fire Ants" for the first time, I immediately ran to the closest music store to purchase the album, Remissions. I was slightly disappointed (though not wholly surprised, thanks Best Buy) to discover that the only Mastodon record they had was their latest, Leviathan. Though the album I really wanted was Remissions, I bought Leviathan nonetheless. Generally, I'm very conservative about spending my hard earned dough on music (due to an extreme case of Music Snobbery), but something told me that I was still going to be happy. And fuck me, I was. This album wrecked me for a whole summer (2004). To this day, Leviathan still impresses and moves me. Wow. Trying to put it into words is fruitless, so I'll just add some song clips. But a neat little piece of trivia for ya, Leviathan is loosely based upon and inspired by Herman Melville's classic literary masterpiece Moby Dick. You'll find references throughout the album, from the cover art to the song titles and lyrics.
Here's some of my favorites from Remissions and Leviathan:
Album opener, Crusher Destroyer:
Blood and Thunder:
I am Ahab:
C'mon guys. Give me something to bang my head to. Show me there's still some life in this old beasty after all.
P.S. I love you, Mastodon ;)