Mastodon – Billboard, 27 Feb 2012

I went to the Mastodon gig in Melbourne last week and just wanted to give you a very quick rundown before I post Felix’s long awaited review of Skyrim.

First, a bit of background, your faithful scribe (me, you idiot!) has recently moved to the demographic centre of the Australian metal scene: Ballarat.  Well, it’s not really, but there are lots of bogans here, and it did spawn Australia’s greatest ever metal band, Damaged.

That meant I had quite a drive to the gig, and a nasty long drive home in the middle of the night through torrential rain.

While walking from my car to the gig I experienced something all Chuck Taylor wearers experience at least once every year: a sandshoe blowout.

Sandshoe blowout

That meant I spent quite a bit of the night trying to stuff the inner sole back into my shoe, and I was highly conscious of puddles walking to and from the gig, but apart from that didn’t impede my experience in any major way, so I’ll stop writing about it… now.

I missed the first band, Norwegian black metal-punksters Kvelertak, but heard all of Gojira’s set.  As Gojira were warming up I asked my friend Daniel what sort of music they played and he said “pretentious, French prog metal”, which I thought sounded pretty nice.  I was impressed by these guys.  Like a lot of this experimental proggy stuff, it was a bit disjointed at times, but the drumming was great, especially the double kick work. The heavier guitar parts sounded a little bit like Domination-era Morbid Angel, you know, like Where The Slime Live, and they put those little squeals at the end of the riffs which I always like.  So I guess you could call it death-prog.  There were parts that were so mathy my head was starting to spin.  I was trying to tap my foot to the drums.  I tried the Fibonacci Sequence, Lucas numbers and the digits of pi, all to no avail, so in the end I just gave up and enjoyed the show.

I’ll definitely be chasing up some of Gojira’s CDs – as Daniel said they’d be a great headphone band – and I hope to be able to tap my foot in time if I ever see them again.

Next up, of course, were Mastodon, and yeah they were good but they didn’t blow me away.  The best part for me was getting to see which guys sing which bits of each song.  They opened with Dry Bone Valley which gave me a satisfied inner glow, because I love that song even though Pitchfork called it “generic classic rock”.  I love seeing a drummer who sings too, and Brann Dailor did a great job with this song.

Just before I go on, here’s a blurry phone pic just to prove I was there…

Mastodon live bitches

Overall though I had a few gripes.  I thought the drums sounded muffled, and didn’t do the man I regard as “the best in modern metal” justice.  He needs to give Dave Lombardo’s tech man a call.  Or even borrow the guy from Gojira. And the song list was dominated by songs from The Hunter, which is understandable given these songs are generally shorter and catchier than their old stuff, but man I would have loved to have heard Sleeping Giant or Colony of Birchmen off Blood Mountain (the drummer could have sung the Homme bits), and Oblivion from Crack The Skye.  You can check the set list here.

The crowd were knowledgable and sang along with gusto.  I was surprised that most of the audience were as old as, well, me, but that’s OK I suppose.  It meant that there were some impressive beards about anyway.

So there you go, not quite the live tour de force I was anticipating.  Maybe, like Gojira, the true spirit of Mastodon is best divined the old fashioned way: sitting in a bean bag wearing a good quality set of headphones.

Category Rating
Sound: 7
Set List: 7
Crowd: 8
Overall: 8

– Hazizi

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