So I’m turning 35 next week. I know; I can hardly believe it myself. I haven’t exactly taken great care of this bag o’ bones over the years, and, in some ways, I’m frankly surpised I made it this far. But although my grander misadventures are behind me, I can still go full-on horns-up when the occasion demands.
A few nights ago I saw Mastodon at 9:30 Club here in DC. Yes, they melted face. But you know what? They were too fucking loud. And that’s not just the old man in me talking (let’s not forget that once upon a time I regularly held court before of a blitzkrieg of metallic amplification). My feeling here is that the mighty Mastodon have yet to fully settle into their new material and tried to make up for the fact with sheer volume.
That Mastodon is currently performing with a keyboardist is no doubt heretical to some fans. But it doesn’t bother me — well, at least not in theory. The new guy is obviously there to provide the textures required to pull off such a complex slab of prog-metal. Unfortunately, he also has the tendency to muddy up the sound, which is no damn good with arrangements this intricate.
After the last note of Crack the Skye had penetrated our skulls (they played the whole record from front to back!) Mastodon ripped into some vintage tunes. And they suddenly sounded better. Perhaps it was because the keyboardist left the stage, or maybe it’s just that they’ve toured the shit out of Blood Mountain and Leviathan. Either way, they sounded more like Mastodon. I feel like I should mention that they played the Crack the Skye stuff really, really well (and I consider the album a masterpiece). My guess is the new tunes will be wearing like a supple battle tunic by tour’s end.
The visuals were awesome, with found footage featuring Rasputin-looking dudes and old-timey armies interspersed with images of astral travel and starry wormholes. Here’s a YouTube clip that will give you some idea. Oh, and if you haven’t had a chance to read this Rolling Stone piece on Mastodon, you really should. The dudes in the band had some rough childhoods, but it’s cool that their shared trauma and love of psychedelic drugs and classic rock/prog has produced such a solid artistic bond.
I can’t wait until next week when I finally get to see my two other favorite contemporary metal bands, Opeth and Enslaved (on the same bill, no less!!!). The only thing that could make My Metal Birthday any more metal would be if Meshuggah played in my living room. And I’m not sure I’m ready for that.