Mastodon


(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

Remission (2002) , 7/10
Leviathan (2004), 7/10
Blood Mountain (2006), 6.5/10
Crack The Skye (2009), 5/10
The Hunter (2011), 5/10
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Atlanta's Mastodon were put together by two former Today Is The Day's members (guitarist Bill Kelliher and drummer Brann Dailor), vocalist/guitarist Brent Hinds and bassist Troy Sanders. Following in the footsteps of Today Is The Day's In The Eyes Of God, they debuted with the EP Lifesblood (2001), but it was Remission (2002) that introduced their passion for cebebral metal and complex musical excursions. The mood is at turns agonizing (March of the Fire Ants, the guitar adding the melodic touch that the vocals shun), brutal (Crusher Destroyer, Where Strides the Behemoth, Burning Man, Mother Puncher, Trampled Under Hoof, each with its own quirkiness), anthemic (Workhorse, the emotional zenith), and even romantic (Ol'e Nessie, the melodic zenith). The longer compositions can be pensive and introspective (Trilobite, Trainwreck) while still packing a formidable punch. The closing instrumental Elephant Man is even too mellow, bordering on progressive muzak.
While influenced by Dillinger Escape Plan and Meshuggah, they sounded like a unique fusion of stoner-rock, jazzy progressive-rock and southern boogie. More than the guitars the real ace of Mastodon was drummer Brann Dailor, one of the most versatile of the entire heavy-metal universe.

Leviathan (2004), a concept album loosely based on Melville's "Moby Dick", was a work of relentless intensity, despite a slicker production and an obvious penchant for melody. While the previous album was basically a portfolio of songs in a broad spectrum of registers, this one flowed organically from start to finish, each song basically setting the tone for the following one. The wild and barbaric Blood and Thunder, the mildly anthemic Seabeast, the deranged Island, the feverish and rabid Iron Tusk, the fast grinding Megalodon, were stages of a gradually more painful calvary, although the quiet instrumental Joseph Merrick put an odd ending to it. The musicianship was up to the task. For example, the guitar and drums interplay at the beginning of Aqua Dementia is simply spectacular, opening for a pounding hardcore-like rigmarole. While insisting too much on the vocals, the 13-minute Hearts Alive, the album's tour de force, represented the culmination of their lightning-speed guitar improvisations, tempo-free drumming and noisy, intricate harmonies (as if Mastodon were applying the principles of free jazz to heavy metal).

The highlight of Blood Mountain (2006) is the lengthy progressive instrumental ballad Pendulous Skin, featuring Mars Volta's keyboardist Ikey Owens. The ten shorter songs mainly display the acquired maturity of the musicians as well as better production values. The twin-guitar assault and Brann Dailor's acrobatic drumming balance each other, injecting power into intelligence and viceversa. Capillarian Crest, The Wolf is Loose and Crystal Skull pack an impressive number of ideas in one song. But it is the jazzcore instrumental Bladecatcher that puts the band above the crowd of prog-metal.

Call of the Mastodon (2006) is an anthology of their early recordings, including Lifesblood (2001).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Michele Mulas)

I Mastodon, da Atlanta, sono stati fondati da due ex membri dei Today Is The Day (il chitarrista Bill Kelliher e il batterista Brann Dailor), dal cantante/chitarrista Brent Hinds e dal bassista Troy Sanders. Hanno debuttato con l'EP Lifesblood (2001), ma è stato Remission (2002) a introdurre la loro passione per un metal cerebrale con lunghi excursus musicali (gli strumentali Elephant Man e Train Wreck). Influenzati da un lato da Dillinger Escape Plan e Meshuggah, suonano comunque come una miscela unica di stoner, jazzy-rock di matrice progressive e boogie sudista.

Leviathan (2004), un concept album vagamente basato su “Moby Dick” di Melville, faceva prevalentemente affidamento su canzoni più corte, ad eccezione delle idee creative dei 13 minuti di Hearts Alive.

Il punto forte di Blood Mountain (2006) è la lenta ballata strumentale di matrice progressive Pendulous Skin, che ospita il tastierista dei Mars Volta Ikey Owens. Le dieci canzoni più corte mostrano principalmente un'acquisita maturità e una migliore produzione. L'impatto delle due chitarre e il drumming acrobatico di Brann Dailor si equilibrano a vicenda, iniettando potere nell'intelligenza e viceversa. Capillarian Crest, The Wolf is Loose e Crystal Skull stipano in singole canzoni un numero impressionante di idee. Ma è lo strumentale di stampo jazzcore Bladecatcher che porta la band al di sopra della massa del prog-metal.

Call of the Mastodon (2006) è un'antologia delle loro prime registrazioni, include Lifesblood (2001).

A wider range of vocals and a stronger melodic talent surfaced on Crack The Skye (Reprise, 2009), which at times sounds like an emocore crossover album (Oblivion, Quintessence), and sometimes a progressive-rock album (the magniloquent Divinations, the 10-minute jam The Czar that propels a languid hymn), sometimes even bordering on pop-metal (Crack the Skye). The 13-minute The Last Baron is emblematic of how confused and unrealistically ambitious these Mastodon can be: swinging between speed-metal and arena-pop, the piece is practically devoid of any emotion, meaning or purpose. There is very little that is "technical" about Mastodon's music at this point. They are closer to Dream Theater than their fans are willing to admit.

The Hunter (2011) contains their most radio-friendly song ever, Curl of the Burl (nothing but classic hard rock of the 1970s), and a close second, Creature Lives (a latter-day Pink Floyd-ian ballad), signaling a further shift towards the arena. It marked an impressive sell-out, hailed a the non-metal crowd that figured Spectrelight (sung by Neurosis' Scott Kelly) was furious.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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