Live Review: Mastodon Keep Rock Alive in Pomona
Mon, 20 Oct 2014 06:48:58
From day one, Mastodon has always been a rock band at heart.
If anything, they were like Led Zeppelin masquerading underneath a Swamp Thing coat of lumbering polyrhythmic Atlanta sludge from the get-go. Even on the wild riffing of "March of the Fire Ants" from Remission, you could feel the swaggering energy effusively emanating from the quartet of Troy Sanders, Brent Hinds, Brann Dailor, and Bill Kelliher. However, watching these gods take over the stage at the Fox Theater in Pomona, there transition into a full-blown balls out timeless rock band had been complete. It's as if the circle was complete, poetically mirroring the title of their latest opus Once More 'Round the Sun.
The twelve-string hum of "Tread Lightly" announced the band's arrival as they engaged their new album opener at full throttle. Kelliher and Hinds flawlessly riffed as if their lives depended on it, seamlessly rolling from haunting melodies into bruising, bludgeoning guitar passages. Sanders delivered the unshakable refrain, "Wake up and fight", rattling the venue as if he were Poseidon shaking his spear. Architecting a vocal and percussive backdrop, Dailor punished his drums, while elegantly carrying his own vocal harmonies.
Hinds lit up "Once More 'Round the Sun" just before an explosive galactic bounce on "Blasteroid". "Oblivion" opened up the gates to Crack the Skye in bombastic fashion, while "The Motherload" may very well be their biggest anthem to date. Dailor's vocals of "This time, things will work out just fine. We won't let you slip away" remained equally haunting and hypnotic.
The same could be said of "Chimes at Midnight" where Hinds once again took the vocal and guitar spotlight first with a little slide action. "Aqua Dementia" schizophrenically skewered psyches with its mind-numbing guitar action as did "O'le Nessie" and Blood Mountain's tripped-out rager "Blade Catcher". "Halloween" illuminated just how much of a guitar god Hinds can be during a wild outro solo, while Kelliher reached the same status on those crazy ass-kicking riffs.
Sanders stands out as one of the genre's greatest frontmen. He's both calm and chaotic, especially during the throaty "Black Tongue". However, he confidently carried "Megalodon" and closer "Blood and Thunder" with a charisma and vocal roar that'd place him firmly alongside the likes of James Hetfield in the genre pantheon. Also, it may very well be impossible to find a drummer as technically proficient, groove-driven, and entrancing as Dailor. He's a goddamn powerhouse…
Speaking of powerhouses, Gojira brought 45-minutes of spacey metallic bliss that no one can rival. From the staccato schism of "Explosia" to the swinging off-time violence of "The Axe", they locked into a malevolently mechanical and masterfully metallic groove that didn't break for the entire set. Simultaneously, their set moved like a symphony careening from the jarring, yet controlled pummeling of "The Heaviest Matter of the Universe" to the jagged searing "Backbone".
Before "L'Enfant Sauvage", singer and guitarist Joe Duplantier smiled, "This song is about staying a kid forever. We're just a bunch of kids having fun, staying awake, eyes wide open in the present".
Youth never felt so good. "Toxic Garbage Island" from The Way of All Flesh left jaws on the floor as it volleyed between vicious and vibrant. Joe Duplantier's final screams pierced the night sky as his brother Mario left the audience with one more heavenly stomp.
The only time Sanders spoke during Mastodon, he said, "Cheers everybody. Thanks for coming to the rock show".
It was a hell of a rock show indeed from one of history's finest bands.
Were you there?
See our "First Reaction" to Once More 'Round the Sun here!
See our interview between Mastodon, Gojira, and Kvelertak about the tour here!
See the boys all talk meeting Metallica and more here!
See our first feature on the tour's Club Nokia Los Angeles stop here!