REVIEW // Mastodon bless Bristol’s metal community with an epic gig

US prog metal group Mastodon come to Bristol in the name of a very good cause

Bristol metal fans were recently blessed from a visit by the legendary Mastodon. A progressive/heavy metal band hailing from Atlanta, Georgia; Mastadon have been making waves since they debuted back in 2000. They are made up of the awesome foursome that are: Brann Dailor (drums/vocals), Brent Hinds (guitar/vocals), Bill Kelliher (guitar) and Troy Sanders (bass/vocals).  

The tour is in aid of a good cause; after Mastodon’s manager Nick John tragically died from pancreatic cancer, promoters for each show on the tour will make a donation to three charities: The TJ Martel Foundation, Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

It was like being punched in the guts by a wall of sound

Norway’s highly entertaining Kvelertak supported, the lead singer crowd surfing to the band’s genre crossing heavy-rock sound. After a brief interlude – the calm before the storm – Mastodon opened with Iron Tusk from 2004’s Leviathan, a concept album based on Melville’s Moby-Dick. It was like being punched in the guts by a wall of sound. Mastodon have received much critical acclaim over the years, with Leviathan in particular winning Album of the Year in three publications, as well as a couple of grammy nominations and a win. 

Mastodon played a set interspersed with hits from their back catalogue, giving the congregation everything that they wanted. We heard four tracks from the prolific band’s latest and seventh album, Emperor of Sand. Steambreather was a particular highlight, with most of the audience belting out the introspective lyrics ‘I wonder who I am, reflections offer nothing, I wonder where I stand, I’m afraid of myself’. 

Hinds’ flying V guitar interplaying with Kelliher’s guitar was pure magic to behold

Every member a musical maestro, Hinds’ flying V guitar interplaying with Kelliher’s guitar was pure magic to behold. Commanding the stage, frontman Sanders resembling a kind of fantasy-esque wizard goblin. The band saluted the audience with their instruments a few times throughout the set as if summoning us to dine in Valhalla with them, the O2’s green and purple laser light show providing an atmospheric back drop. 

Sanders resembling a kind of fantasy-esque wizard goblin

I was a bit disappointed by the utter lack of mosh pit until the tail end of the set, when it made me proud of Bristol to see a steady stream of crowd surfers get pulled over the barriers by security and walked back into the crowd. Health and safety doesn’t quite comprehend the subtle or not so subtle nuances of metal. 

Mastadon seemed so down to earth and happy to be there; Hinds addressed the onlookers: ‘I feel like since the last time we came, our relationship has blossomed. Thanks for making us bigger and better everyone’. One of the most impressive things about Mastadon is that every member of the band besides Kelliher sings – how on earth Brann Dailor manages to sing whilst playing such technical drum polyrhythms is a question for the gods alone. 

how on earth Brann Dailor manages to sing whilst playing such technical drum polyrhythms is a question for the gods alone

Neurosis co-founder Scott Kelly is invited onto the stage for the home run, singing lead vocals on Aqua Dementia, Crack the Skye, Diamond in the Witch House and ending on the head-pounding Blood and Thunder, the heavy prog riffs interfusing with Dailor’s insane drumming skills – what an end to an epic visit from our American metal friends, we’re sure that Nick John would approve immensely and was smiling down from above. 

Words by Charise Clarke
Photos by Dean Forrest

 

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