LIVES

RED FANG/RUS­SIAN CIR­CLES

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Contents - ADAM REES

Mastodon bring their A-game to Brix­ton Academy, plus: Mar­i­lyn Man­son, Stone Sour, Sixth, creeper, opeth, Ev­ery Time I Die, royal Thun­der, North­lane and more.

At­lanta’s re­ju­ve­nated riff lords run ram­pant in the Welsh val­leys

EVER SINCE THE 2004 lon­don Un­der­world show that ev­ery­one and their mums have claimed to have at­tended, mastodon’s rep­u­ta­tion as a live force on these shores has bounced from awe-in­spir­ing to dis­ap­point­ingly flat and back again, with a frus­trat­ing habit of never quite con­nect­ing dur­ing those al­limpor­tant big fes­ti­val shows dam­ag­ing an oth­er­wise mostly spot­less cV over the past decade. For ev­ery mind­blow­ing show­ing at a Brix­ton academy or a Round­house, there’ll be an out­door set that feels like a lost op­por­tu­nity to climb fur­ther up metal’s ever-slip­pery lad­der. Plus, when 2014’s great-but-not-revo­lu­tion­ary Once More ‘Round The Sun failed to top end-ofyear lists and their shows were met with ap­plause and ap­proval in­stead of ra­bid, froth­ing ad­mi­ra­tion, it ap­peared even this slight­est dip from the her­alded stan­dards was a cause for con­cern, con­clud­ing in last year’s Blood­stock head­line show where the at­lanta quar­tet sim­ply seemed to be go­ing through the mo­tions. It’s as if the un­think­able had hap­pened; for both band and fans it had all be­come a bit fa­mil­iar.

how­ever, the well-doc­u­mented tribu­la­tions that in­flu­enced Em­peror Of Sand have re­set the di­als, with the al­bum re­claim­ing the throne in Ham­mer’s al­bum of The Year poll and their live shows, in­clud­ing a re­turn to Down­load, gar­ner­ing gag­gling praise, sug­gest­ing busi­ness has cer­tainly re­sumed.

Yet as they hit these shores for the first date of seven UK shows, there’s still the nag­ging feel­ing that mastodon may have now passed that in­evitable tip­ping point where bands go from their un­stop­pable prime to grace­ful yet still cel­e­bra­tory mid­dle age.

In what is in­cred­i­bly their first head­line show in Wales since their Re­mis­sion tour, mastodon have a stel­lar choice of sup­port. Both RUS­SIAN CIR­CLES [7] and RED FANG [8] show­case a mu­si­cal land­scape in­spired by the at­lanta quar­tet, where im­mer­sive, evolv­ing ex­plo­ration meets the almighty riff. With the for­mer be­ing such reg­u­lar head­lin­ers in their own right, it’s strange to see the chicago trio’s vast, tex­tured sound­scapes con­strained to a few dozen min­utes in front of a mod­est crowd, leav­ing just as the grad­u­ally build­ing tem­pos and Brian cook’s rolling basslines elicit the re­quired es­capism. There’s no such dilemma for Red Fang. Straight off the bat they’re akin to a land­slide plough­ing into by­standers who are more than ea­ger to be swept away by their cor­pu­lent arse­nal. ever tee­ter­ing on the edge of apoc­a­lyp­tic rum­ble and good-time groove, the mam­moth fuzz just keeps on com­ing while aaron Beam even tries his hand at some Welsh, which is greatly re­ceived on a suc­cess­ful match day.

OPEN­ING WITH A 13-minute in­ter­di­men­sional voy­age from their most dar­ing, avant-garde al­bum is pre­cisely what you wouldn’t ex­pect from any­one else, which again un­der­lines just what a unique propo­si­tion MASTODON [9] still are. The Last Baron’s oth­er­worldly mag­nif­i­cence tears through the fab­ric of re­al­ity with un­ex­pected twists and more peaks and troughs than the tur­bu­lent boil­ing seas wherein leviathans dwell. The fairly sim­ple melody of An­cient King­dom and Black Tongue’s tar-thick ap­proach book­end the in­ter­ga­lac­tic me­teor shower of Blade­catcher, while un­ob­tru­sive lights give way to leD col­umns where hyp­notic vi­su­als con­jure the fan­tas­ti­cal lands and char­ac­ters so preva­lent in their mu­sic. Un­der­stated bassist Troy

San­ders keeps au­di­ence in­ter­ac­tion to a min­i­mum, pre­fer­ring to let the rig­or­ous hooks of new num­bers Show Your­self and An­dromeda speak for them­selves, while Bill Kel­li­her is quite con­tent to chug away in the cor­ner and ef­fort­lessly sum­mon forth the licks of Sul­tan’s Curse. Mother Puncher de­liv­ers the pri­mal fe­roc­ity from their ear­li­est ma­te­rial while the mon­strous crunch of fi­nale Blood And Thun­der un­leashes the en­ergy and ex­cite­ment built up over the set in one cathar­tic, joy­ous re­lease.

as much as the on­slaught of drum fills and idio­syn­cratic leads re­veal what ex­tra­or­di­nary mu­si­cians you’re wit­ness­ing, time and again the band’s achilles’ heel has been the vo­cals, and again it’s an ex­posed flaw. In a way it’s com­fort­ing to know that un­der­neath the frenzy of beats Brann Dailor is in­deed hu­man, with his more del­i­cate, melodic voice show­ing strain on Obliv­ion and Roots Re­main, while Brent hinds’ mum­bling drawl de­tracts some­what from the an­gu­lar rum­ble of Colony Of Birch­men.

Ul­ti­mately, when op­er­at­ing at such a high level it’s nec­es­sary to split hairs in or­der to con­tinue to adapt and ex­cel, but as Brann ad­dresses the crowd at the end to thank them for their pa­tience and sup­port, you won­der what more they could have done by al­bum seven be­yond al­most unan­i­mous ac­claim, play­ing to even big­ger crowds and threat­en­ing to be­come land­mark fig­ures in not just the rock hall of fame but mu­si­cal history full stop. But as Brent so per­fectly summed up to fans out in the city the night be­fore the show, “I’m do­ing the mu­sic I wanna do, man. It’s great that you like it but if we lose some fans along the way be­ing dif­fer­ent, fuck ’em.”

MASTODON ARE THREAT­EN­ING TO BE­COME LAND­MARK FIG­URES

Troy San­ders: less chat, more tunes Red Fang: ri

Brent hinds: drawl or­der Bill Kel­li­her: chug, chug, chug!

Rus­sian cir­cles: an but no Rus­sian ab­bre­vi­ated set, through it, guys

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