Friday, May 11, 2012

Live review: Mastodon, The Fillmore, 5/10/2012

Posted By on Fri, May 11, 2012 at 2:09 PM

The Fillmore Charlotte
May 10, 2012

One of the most exciting, smart and uh, deadsexy (yeah, I said it) heavy metal bands in the game today is from Atlanta? Yeah, right. Well, please believe it. Mastodon made that crystal clear on Thursday night, May 10, 2012, at the Fillmore. This is the thinking (and rocking) person's heavy metal, done no muss, no fuss, hit 'em hard and thank you very much.

The show, part of the band's headlining Heritage Hunter tour, was top-heavy with tunes from its excellent, recent CD, The Hunter. No surprise and no problem. These tracks were made for the stage - more economical, bigger riffs, strong melodies, knife-edge energy. Aces, in other words.

Highlights included the well-named "Blasteroid," "Dry Bone Valley," "Curl of the Burl" (biggest applause-getter), "Stargasm" ("You're on fiiiiiiiii-re... ") and "The Hunter," which opened with Brent Hinds picking out the intro on the 12-string neck of a double-neck guitar.

Some old-school Mastodon fans might not be down with the new direction away from the previous epic prog-metal sounds and heavier on the thrash-y elements. For them, the band offered a few songs from its breakthrough album, Leviathan, including "Aqua Dementia." And for me, they played a massive "Crack the Skye" from my personal-favorite Masto breakthrough CD of the same name. Ultimately, the band delivered, big time.

Just one minor quibble. They weren't loud enough - at least standing about three-quarters of the way back in the Fillmore, which was about 80 percent full. Seriously. As my boy Art Buckle said, "Them uptown suckers don't think folks can handle volume. They shouldn't get power rock bands if they ain't gonna let it bleed, for the peoples!" (Buckle, I think you're on to something, babe.).

Mastodon at any volume is good Mastodon. And the cranked-down volume was probably better for this particular gig: As (the incredible) drummer Brann Dailor told the crowd at the end of the show, after thanking Charlotte fans and mentioning it was good to be back in the South, "My grandpa's here in the back. Say 'Hello Grandpa!'" Right on, Grandpa!

Uh, and Troy Sanders is a metal bass god.

Sweden's Opeth played the middle slot, and received a solid show of love from fans for their Dream Theater-meets-black/death-y metal thang. Not my thing, really, but the fans seemed well satisfied. And props to Alan-Rickman-esque lead singer-guitarist Mikael Akerfeldt, who seriously injured his head on Monday, forcing the band to cancel a show. He's doing fine now, he told everyone. And so was his old-style KISS t-shirt.

What about some Satanic Swedish metal? All members of opening band Ghost were in robes and masks, except for the lead singer, who is dressed up like a ghoulish Pope 666? Church-stained glass imagery on the backdrops? Atmospheric lighting? ... Should I totally love these guys or be totally scared?? Or both?

Tonight, neither really. Kind of a bummer. They had the right "look" - Sunn0))) druid style (robes) via Scandinavia black ice - but the music was, dare I say, almost sunny, a kind of unoffending Euro-power
metal type affair. I mean, no disrespect, but Venom's probably tut-tutting your shit right now. We want MORE Evil. MORE Satan. Go big or go home, ya know? (And that's not a xenophobic comment towards Sweden, love you guys. Mean it.)

Opeth setlist

Mastodon setlist

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