Mastodon - preview
ABC, Glasgow, Wed 7 Mar
While metal continues to splinter and cross pollinate into a million different subgenres, each more wilfully obscure and self-conscious than the last, it takes a band like this quartet of Atlantans to reunite these individual pieces under the ragged banner of truly innovative rock. That isn’t to say we’re dealing with a bunch of brown nosing traditionalists here. Mastodon make music that is relatively conventional by some purists standards, but it is their way with phrasing, pacing and dynamics that puts them hairy head and shoulders above the pack.
Their 2006 album Blood Mountain might rely on lyrics and imagery that are more Tolkein than tokin’ but they share a sensibility with the mighty Queens of the Stone Age in that if you find you’re groove, don’t freak out, just stay in it, do your thing and eventually everyone else will catch on, and maybe even catch up. To reinforce the notion of like-mindedness, Josh Homme even contributes some vocals to latest single ‘Colony of Birchmen’. Theirs is less about brutalising the listener with blunt riffs and more concerned with intertwining four weighty musical elements to make one deeply complex whole - you suspect there’s a few too many Rush records to be found in their record collections. One criticism that has been laid at the band in the past is that they sometimes struggle to replicate their recorded intricacies in live performances, but after a winter on the road with arch musos Tool, they’ve learned a thing or two about stage craft. Being this heavy, twisted and ingenious takes work and there’s a feeling that ‘the best metal band in the world’ have what it takes in their arsenal to deserve such a heady title.