Feature: Mastodon & Gojira
Thu, 08 May 2014 08:37:14
Regardless of what's going on in the musical community at large, a revolution is underway in heavy music right now. The two bands leading that shift remain Mastodon and Gojira, and they happen to be on the road together right now, decimating and dazzling venues across the United States. Now, the trek recently sold out Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles, no easy feat for a heavy package, but it's not surprising either. Both artists remain that precise, passionate, and powerful to entrance even the most "L.A." of an audience. In fact, the energy within the Club Nokia last Friday could've very well caused an earthquake. Not to mention, the most elite of luminaries stood in attendance to watch including Slash and Danny Carey of Tool. Any show that can get icons as diverse as those out is worth taking a closer look at.
With only a backdrop of their album cover for Once More 'Round the Sun [Out June 24], Mastodon opened up the gates of hard rock Valhalla and took the packed room on quite the ride. Leviathan epic "Hearts Alive" eased everybody into their world as Brent Hinds' and Bill Kelliher's guitars resounded pristinely, moving in unison with Brann Dailor's hulking drums. Troy Sanders took the mic and delivered each word with palpable emotion. His growls and screams were all art, and the inflection hit just as hard as the bass lines did. For almost ten minutes this opening number spiraled into a brutal, brilliant, and blissful oblivion. "Divinations" showcased why Hinds and Kelliher stand out as true 21st century guitar divinities weaving in and out of mind-bending fretwork and riff mastery just before "Crusher Destroyer" swung a polyrhythmic hammer to rival Thor's.
"Bladecatcher" tempered psychedelic needling and succinct songwriting for a punk-i-fied metal thrash romp driven by Dailor. Other Blood Mountain classics "Crystal Skull" and "Siberian Divide" allowed Sanders to shine and evinced why he's one of metal's most powerful frontmen. After Hinds' classic country blues break on "Megalodon", "Oblivion" dove into Crack the Skye with the painful poetry resonating loudly. "Blasteroid" and "Octopus Has No Friends" proved a perfect segue into masterful new gems—"Chimes at Midnight" and "High Road". The former saw Hinds take the mic on a soaring refrain in between more intricate yet infectious playing, while the latter laid the smack down with a trudging stomp. "The Sparrow" flew off into pensive meandering that left everybody in utter awe at what they'd seen. This is Mastodon's moment to become the most important and impactful band on the scene, and Once More 'Round the Sun will allow them to…
Just prior, Gojira lifted the audience off its feet—literally. When was the last time you saw an entire room bounce to a seesawing guitar riff? It's been a while, but Gojira exuded the power to practically make the room levitate. Joe Duplantier screamed like his life depended on it while seamlessly holding down the backbone of the intensely gorgeous "To Sirius" and "The Heaviest Matter of the Universe". Meanwhile, his brother Mario set a new standard from drumming as Jean Michel-Labadie and Christian Andreu locked into a laser focus that never broke even once. "Flying Whales" allowed for an engaging reprieve punctuated by Joe's delicate melodies. Heavy metal finally has its answer to radio, and that's Gojira.
The opening riff of "Oroborus" with its slick low-string tapping got everybody grooving, while "L'Enfant Sauvage" sparked a sing-a-long. "Toxic Garbage Island" elevated thrash to the 21st century, and "Vacuity" left everyone pleading for more while gasping.
Moreover, Kvlertak kicked the festivities off with a violently vicious and vibrant punk metal set of pure musical mastery.
One thing was clear, heavy music was alive and the new gods are Mastodon and Gojira.
Were you there?
See our interview between Bill Kelliher of Mastodon, Joe Duplantier of Gojira, and Erlend Hjelvik of Kvelertak here!