Archive for the ‘Mastodon’ Category

[ATTENDED: September 9, 2019] Ghost 

This was my third time seeing Ghost.  In four years!  They never fail to put on a spectacular show.

Each time I’ve taken C. with me and these last two he brought his friend with him.  This time, though, the boys sat in the seats straight back but on a slight rise (they had a great view) and I went to the floor to get as close to the action I could.  The usually toss stuff out to the audience after the show, but I was not in the right place.

There were tons of people in full cosplay, and they looked amazing.

It took a while for Ghost to come out.  They have a huge stage change up, so it’s understandable.  I happened to run into someone I knew there and his son (Hi Gary) which was crazy (although not really as he has seen Ghost like 6 times).

They play taped music as the band sets up.  It’s usually a kind of Gregorian chant.  Soon the stage was revealed in all of its multi-tiered, stained-glass glory.  The music segued into a tape of “Imperium” before the Nameless Ghouls ran out on stage followed soon after by Papa. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 9, 2019] Mastodon

This was my third time seeing Mastodon.  I have enjoyed them each time but I didn’t think I’d be seeing them again.  So it was a treat that they opened for Ghost.

I hadn’t really listened to their new album that much, so I didn’t really know what to expect.  Plus, in an opening slot, they wouldn’t get that many songs.  And I see that each show has their sets getting shorter and shorter.

The biggest surprise was the addition of a keyboard player.  Joao Noguiera stood on the same riser as the drums and had a lot of hair and a top hat (yes, like Slash).  He added a lot of atmospherics and sounds while the other guys were tuning.  But Mastodon is such a force, I’m not sure he was needed.

So they played five songs from the new album.  And then six songs that I’d seen them play before.  Most of those they’ve played at each show.

There were great visuals behind them–a huge screen showing videos.

“Pain with an Anchor” was sung by drummer Brann Dailor, who has the most melodic delivery of the band.  He and singer Troy Sanders share a lot of lead vocal duties on the new album.  And I love Dailor’s colorful drum set.  (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 9, 2019] Spiritbox

We arrived pretty early for this show.  Early enough to get merch before the first band went on.

My son and his friend had seats (straight back and a few rows up–they said the view was perfect), but I wanted standing room on the floor.  And just as I walked down the steps to the floor, the lights went dark and I walked pretty close to the stage.

Then Spiritbox came out.  I didn’t know them at all.  But their story is

Spiritbox is a Canadian heavy metal band from Victoria, British Columbia. Husband and wife duo guitarist Mike Stringer and vocalist Courtney LaPlante established Spiritbox in 2017. The band’s full lineup comprises LaPlante, Stringer and drummer Zev Rose; former As I Lay Dying bassist Josh Gilbert currently performs live with the band.

The band plays pretty loud and abrasive guitars, but there’s all kinds of electronic effects and interesting quiet/loud elements going on.  Courtney LaPlante can growl/ scream very impressively, but she also has a pretty singing voice, adding even more to the diversity.

It’s like they combined some of the best elements of various new heavy metal sounds into a composite that sounds familiar but unique at the same time. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MASTODON-“Fallen Torches” (2020).

Mastodon has a new collection of rarities and B-sides coming out soon.  I’m not sure if this single is a new song or an old one, but man is it good.

It features just about every aspect of Mastodon in one song.  There’s massive drums, heavy guitars, angry vocals, soaring clean vocals and many different parts.

The song opens with a heavy riff and vocals–a classic Mastodon sound.  After 45 second the guitars soar high and the second vocalist sings even higher, soaring the title before returning to the main verse riff.

A third part adds speed before a fourth part slows things down with a lot of sinister echo.  It’s a great breather that slowly rebuilds the song with some more great riffs and intense drums.  The end is suitably heavy.

I can’t wait to hear the rest of the record.

[READ: August 1, 2020] “A Village After Dark”

This story shows the aftermath of something we never learn the details about.

A man, Fletcher, returns to a village in England.  He used to live there many years ago, but he is now older and easily disoriented. He didn’t recognize anything in the village.

But he needed to rest, so he stopped at door at random and knocked very hard on it.

While he was knocking, a young woman called out to him.  She asked if he was “one of that lot with David Maggis and all of them.”  He says he was, but that Maggis was hardly the most important one.

He realizes that he and his friends were all before her time.  Nevertheless, she was excited he was there, saying that all of the people her age looked up to him.  She invited him to her cottage. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 13, 2019] Babymetal

I first heard of BABYMETAL back in 2014 when they were a massive WTF in the music scene.

Here was a band that played heavy heavy music but the singers were teenage Japanese girls who were totally kawaii and who sang in a distinctly pop style.  The 17-year-old metal purist in me would have been infuriated by this abomination to metal.

But my adult self things this is an amazing amalgam of style and one that is designed to shake people out of their comfortable bubbles.   Even if you balk at the singing style (and the dancing), the music is really really heavy.  Like, impressively heavy.

But the juxtaposition doesn’t end there.  Between the heavy music comes occasional moments of synthy pop goodness.  It made my brain explode the first time I watched the video for “Gimme Chocolate.”  By the time I watched it a second time I was hooked and was determined to see them live.

Back in 2016, I somehow missed that they were playing the Electric Factory.  I was seeing Mastodon there two nights before their show but when I asked if there were any tickets left, they had sold out ages ago.  Boo!  [Looking at that setlist I see they played seven different songs last time!]

So, three and a half years later they finally came back into town and I bought a ticket right away.  Actually, I was supposed to be away for the weekend so I bought a ticket for Sunday in New York City.  This would have been so much work because I would have just come back from a camping trip, I would have had to drive into NYC to a place I’ve never been and it was a Sunday night.  So I was glad the trip was cancelled and I could go on Friday night after all!

I arrived and ran past the merch hoping to get a decent spot, but it was pretty packed.  I managed to get behind some short people and all was well for the opening band.  Then, when Avatar left, somehow 200 people pushed their way in front of all of us who felt like we were packed in pretty tight already.  I didn’t step back at all but somehow twice as many people were in front of me.  Woah. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 1, 2018] Mastodon

I saw Mastodon two years ago.  The band was great, but I left the show somewhat unsatisfied.  Was it the venue (Electric Factory, I think so); was it the crowd (a large and unceasing mosh pit, I think so).

I felt like I wanted to see them again.  But when they came back around a year later, I decided against it.  In part because it was the same venue and in part because it was an all day event with four bands (most of whom I liked, but that’s practically a festival).  A note on the setlist says that Brent Hinds was visibly upset with technical problems the whole show, so I’m glad I didn’t go.  Especially since this show’s setlist was very similar.

When this tour was announced co-headliners Primus and Mastodon, it seemed pretty ideal.  I have been wanting to see Primus and here was redemption for Mastodon–I’ve been pretty happy with the shows I’ve seen at Summer Stage.

Well, a thunderstorm was forecast for the entire day in Asbury Park, so they moved the show inside.  It wound up not raining at all, but you have to make a decision early when you have so much gear and they made the right choice–even if it may not have sounded as good.

I arrived late and missed  the opening band All Them Witches entirely.

But Mastodon sounded great.  The crowd wasn’t that large for them, I was surprised to see.  A largish pit started in the middle but it never really took off that much.  It was nicely contained and I was on the edge of it, where I like to be.

I like nearly everything Mastodon has released, although I don;t really know which album the songs come from.  So I didn’t even realize that so many songs came from their newest album Emperor of Sand (7 of 17).

The one good thing about it being inside is that it was still light out when they went on, but it was dark inside, which meant that their backgrounds and visuals worked well. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 1, 2018] All Them Witches 

I didn’t know All Them Witches before this show.  And I don’t know them after this show.  Parking in Asbury Park was pretty rough and, it being after Memorial Day traffic was worse than when I had driven down there in the winter.

Because of the impending torrential thunderstorm (which never actually materialized), the show was moved from the Stone Pony Summer Stage to Conventional Hall.  It was the right decision given the forecast, but….well, whatever.

Anyhow, I missed them entirely.  I walked in as they were packing up their gear.


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The Cold Dark Place EP was apparently written to be a Brett Hinds solo project.  I don;t know how many songs he wrote for it, but he pulled his whole band together for these four tracks and they sound like the ever-evolving Mastodon–less heavy, more complex and with new, intriguing sounds.

“North Side Star” is a mellow song, with gentle guitars and rather delicate vocals.  The feature appears to be Brent Hinds’ 1954 Sho-Bud 13-string pedal steel guitar (which he acquired several years ago, fully outfitted with knee and foot-benders).  The slide doesn’t take over the song but adds really interesting soaring notes to the proceedings.  I love when both singers harmonize on their songs–their voices are quite distinctive and work together in a fascinating way.  Or as on the third verse when you can hear Hinds; voice and there’s a low harmony in the background.  Three minutes in there’s a cool guitar lick that leads to an almost (almost) funky break (it’s more heavy than funky) that leads to some cool guitar pyrotechnics.

“Blue Walsh” is sung by drummer Brann Dailor–his smooth crooning voice over the spiraling guitar line.  It has a cool bridge that leads to an aching chorus (with different lead vocals).  The end of the song turns into a blistering guitar solo that leads into a classic heavy Mastodon riff before returning to the chorus.

“Toe to Toes” opening with a very pretty acoustic guitar melody the song quietly shifts gears into a heavy circular riff and some rough but catchy singing.  The second vocal comes in on the second verse.  A pretty melody before a rather tough guitar solo.  It’s close to old Mastodon but still quite pretty.

“Cold Dark Place” opens with more of the Sho-Bud and Hinds’ singing.  This is a delicate ballad.  The keening slide guitar hovers over the pretty acoustic middle section (in which Hinds’s voice is too muffled).  Five minutes in, the song build into a screaming solo and a heavy prog-riffing end.

[READ: February 1, 2016] “Ghosts and Empties” (yes I read this almost two years ago)

This was a story in which I liked the heart of the story but I found the framing information to be less than satisfying.

The heart of the story is that a woman walks around her neighborhood every night and observes things changing–for better or worse.

Although it was a bit navel gazing and not especially compelling, I did enjoy her observations about her neighborhood.  It was especially useful once she gave the context of the neighborhood and how it has ups and downs and had its share of good news and bad news.  (Having a baby swan eaten by an otter is simultaneously adorable and horrifying). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 5, 2016] Mastodon

2016-05-05 22.37.54I first heard Mastodon with their Moby Dick-inspired concept album Leviathan.  Since then, their albums have gotten bigger and better, with many more elements (they now have four singers in the band, and a great mix of really catchy stuff along with really heavy, kinda scary stuff).  Their latest album, 2013’s Once More Round the Sun has been a favorite of mine for the past three years.

I was supposed to see them at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville in November of 2014.  I even had my ticket purchased.  But through a terrible goof on my part, I couldn’t go.  I’ve been wanting to see them ever since.  They opened for Judas Priest in 2015, but I wanted to see them as a headliner.

They are planning a European Tour this summer, but for some reason, they decided to play one gig in the States, and they chose Philly.  I was pretty psyched to get my ticket!  I was even more psyched to learn that they played more or less the same set as they did at Starland Ballroom.  Honestly, I don’t really like when a band doesn’t mix up their setlists all that much. But in this case, it was fantastic.  I didn’t look at the songs before the shows, but I did check to see that most of the songs were from Once More, which was perfect. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 5, 2016] The Dillinger Escape Plan

2016-05-05 19.48.27I bought The Dillinger Escape Plan’s first album way back in 1999.  It is an abrasive, unpleasant, noisy, harsh record.  The band is known for playing “mathcore” which means their songs have lots of stops and starts and weird rhythms.  They are also really fast and the chords are more like screeches than actual guitar chords.

I didn’t listen to that album very much and I pretty much forgot about the band, but I saw their name pop up here and there.  And now, here they were opening for Mastodon.

I didn’t know that they had been making records for all this time–with many, many line up changes, including a new singer since that first album.  As I looked through their discography, I found out that Mike Patton, singer for Faith No More, Mr. Bungle and a dozen other even weirder bands, sang for them on an EP.

And then their new (and current singer) Greg Puciato took over.  On the songs that I’ve listened to from their later albums, Puciato sings in many styles.  There’s a lot of screaming, but there’s also some crooning and vocals that sound an awful lot like Patton’s (no mean feat).

Reviews said their newer albums were more melodic, so I was interested to hear what they’d do. (more…)

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