With each album, Mastodon step it up a notch. Whereas other bands are content with following an easy formula simply because it works, one of the many things that sets Mastodon apart from the rest is their ability to evolve while still remaining true to their specific sound. They’ve gracefully and skillfully moved away from their early concept albums (which, to be fair, are nothing short of epic, to use the term correctly) towards critically acclaimed, melodic albums with a full sound, proving their talents are not purely technical.
Mastodon’s latest effort, Once More ‘Round The Sun, is a perfect example of this. It’ a powerful follow-up to 2011’s The Hunter. Their first albums featured the work of artist Paul Romano, but they’ve enlisted Oakland-based artist Skinner for their last two releases. Still, the artwork echoes their sound, and remains trippy as hell.
Though they’re pegged as a metal band, a close listen reveals punk, psychedelic, sludge and thrash influences, making for an exceptionally wild sound. Part of Mastodon’s appeal isn’t only that their music somehow seems accessible to folks who wouldn’t usually listen to such heavy music, but also that each member is active in shaping the band’s sound. What could be mistaken for ego is actually character and confidence. We’ve heard more than a few stories of creative differences causing rifts between band members, but in Mastodon’s case, it feels like ego has never even been an issue, and they simply want to put forth their best for the benefit of a good tune. The emphasis isn’t placed on any single band member, keeping things interesting without confusing the listener or making it seem like they’re trying too hard. They’ve always worked as a team, passing the puck from one musician to the next and swapping vocal duties, complementing one another perfectly and crafting some seriously stunning tracks. The production is crisp, and one can only imagine what it will sound like live.
Their last Montreal show was in November 2011, and their presence was so incredible that I thought of it for days. They were every much the massive beast their name suggests, and there’s no way I’d miss their upcoming show on October 29. Openers Gojira, from France, and Kvelertak, a six-piece from Norway, are both lesser-known bands that still fit the bill: loud, fast, with great technical abilities and vocals that command attention – nothing that will disappoint a Mastodon fan. Don’t miss this one: it promises to blow the doors right off.
Mastodon perform with Gojira and Kvelertak Wednesday, October 29 at Metropolis. Doors open at 6 p.m., $41.50 in advance or $47 at the door.