Mastodon w/ Kylesa – [Live]

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

When a show sells out well in advance at The Great American Music Hall, there is a pretty good chance it's going to be, at least what I consider, "epic." I can think of more than a handful of shows that went down at GAMH over the years where tickets were snatched up weeks beforehand, and every single one of them turned out to be nothing short of incredible. Amebix, Jello Biafra, The Melvins, Social Distortion, Neurosis and Motörhead are just a few that come to mind. And now Mastodon will have to be added to that list…

Walking into the Great American Music Hall just after Intronaut had finished their set, the first thing I noticed about the stage was the two drum kits that were being set up. Not having heard Kylesa before, and knowing absolutely nothing about them, I have to say I was a bit dubious. "Must be some type of shtick," I thought to myself as I grew impatient for the band and their two drummers to arrive. Well it was only about five minutes later that Kylesa hit the stage and proved me wrong, dead wrong.

The duel drumming of Eric Hernandez and Carl McGinley added a dimension to Kylesa'a sound that I can really only describe as heavy as fuck. It was one part Crash Worship, one part Martin Atkins and Bill Rieflen-era Ministry, and all parts metal. Combined with the guitars of Laura Pleasants and Phillip Cope, it was nearly an hour of droning, tribal-soaked metal. Pleasants and Cope were also switching off on vocal duties, so just when I thought I had the Kylesa "sound" figured out, they would mix it up and deliver something totally different that was still fused together with the same bombastic guitar tone and the same dueling hypnotic drum beat. I really wish I had done my homework on Kylesa beforehand, as to be more aware of their set list, but I did pick up their latest offering, Static Tensions, after their set, and now recognize quite a few songs from it. It has been in constant rotation ever since. Needless to say, I was left immensely impressed by the band, and will now go out of my way to see them live. So should you.

I admit that Mastodon's latest record, Crack The Skye, was still growing on me at the time of this show. And as much as I wanted to give the new songs a chance live, of course it was their older material that I really wanted to hear. But when they hit the stage and immediately launched into "Oblivion," the first track of the new record, and then proceeded to play the rest of the slab in its entirety, I was totally sucked up into their world of Rasputin, wormholes, and time travel…

The new songs sounded much heavier live than they do recorded, and Mastodon really seemed to get caught up in performing them. The guitars of Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher sounded as thrashy as ever, and gave both "Divinations" and "Ghost of Karelia" a whole new element to them. As they chugged through the record with an intensity that I don't think I have ever seen from them before, I was really enjoying hearing Crack The Skye in one big chunk, and I think it was exactly what I needed to become a fan of the record, and its more melodic, yet still heavy and complex sound. And after wrapping up the first half of their set with an awesome 15-minute version of "The Last Baron," I realized that I really do dig Crack The Skye, and I’ve been listening to it consistently ever since. There was still more to come, however…

Although I didn't think it was possible, Mastodon then took it to a whole new level, and delivered another forty-five minutes of molten metal. The older songs sounded just as good as the new stuff, and the band really seemed to feed off of the energy that made the hot, sweaty venue buzz. And although "Colony Of Birchmen" and "Seabeast" were pretty mesmerizing, it was "Hearts Alive" that totally blew me (and everyone else) away. It was the perfect song to end what really was an amazing performance, and I really cannot wait to see Mastodon again.


Crack The Skye is out now on Reprise — [Get it now on]

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