Live Review: Mastodon — The Fox Theater, Pomona
Sun, 09 May 2010 14:49:05
Mastodon reside in the ethereal nexus between Pink Floyd, Metallica and Neurosis.
During the Pomona stop of the Volcom Tour, Mastodon conjured one of the best live shows in heavy metal history. They might just be the 21st century's answer to Led Zeppelin, and their current headline jaunt validates that claim.
Without saying a word, the band hit the stage to the spacey strains of Crack the Skye's "Oblivion." With its hazy, hypnotic buildup, Mastodon began painting a dark sonic portrait all their own in front of the tightly packed Fox Theater. A giant movie screen behind them cycled through Twilight Zone-style footage of all kinds of mystical characters and landscapes. Graphics spun and twirled inviting the audience directly into Mastodon's headspace as they slowly constructed the foundation for a living epic on stage. This was all during the show's very first song too…
The trip only got crazier and more captivating as Mastodon led the crowd through Crack the Skye song-by-song in the album order with perfectly synced up videos that were as haunting and heavy as the music. "Divinations" pulsed with palpably poignant power as Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher weaved through off-kilter riffs that remained catchy and dangerous. The guitar duo remains the most formidable on the scene, creating a polyrhythmic juggernaut fueled by their calculated thrash-prog genius.
"Quintessence" carried on that energy as percussive mastermind Brann Dailor bashed out all kinds of mayhem behind the kit. "The Czar" saw the band venture through various moods as the rhythms swung like Thor's hammer. At the eye of this sonic storm stood vocalist/bassist Troy Sanders. Sanders howled with heart as he ripped through each track's groove, flawlessly captaining this unforgettable sensory experience. Sanders steered the helm on "Crack the Skye," brandishing the kind of mystical power that all great frontmen wield. At the same time, Hinds brandished a Gibson double neck playing more demonically than Jimmy Page could ever.
"The Last Baron" launched the crowd right into outer space from the second Hinds crooned, "I'd guess they would say we could set this world ablaze." That's exactly what the band did as the screen behind them mirrored the raw explosion.
Finishing off Crack the Skye, the Atlanta metal masters continued to stoke those flames, tearing through some of the best and brightest cuts of their career. "Crusher Destroyer" from Remission cackled with refined brutality fueled by Sanders' thunderous roar. "Crystal Skull" and "I Am Ahab" showcased precise fretwork and percussive propulsion. "Capillarian Crest" and "Circle of Cysquatch" from Blood Mountain shook the venue with pure sonic shockwaves from the tight bass, guitar and drum chaos.
"Iron Tusk" blasted the band and the audience back through the galaxy with its violently catchy riff and Sanders' unmistakable bellow. "March of the Fire Ants" and "Blood and Thunder" ended the show in brutally beautiful fashion and the band left the stage triumphantly.
Seeing Mastodon these days is a bit like seeing Tool during AENIMA; it's transcendent, thought-provoking and simply face-melting.
Where you there?