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Released: 2001, Independent
Reviewer: Nathan Robinson
Listen up! Here’s a new band that has the potential to blow the doors off all this East Coast noisecore stuff: Mastodon. I found out about this band because the drummer and guitarist hail from one of my favorite bands: Lethargy. I’m talking about Brann Dailor and Bill Kelliher, respectively, who had quit Lethargy to join Steve Austin and Today Is The Day for a short stint, before quitting that band and forming Mastodon. I was very thankful to get my hands on a copy of their 9-song demo (thanks Dave!), and I was surprised and impressed by what I had heard, so much so that I was spinning the CD for days on end. Then this little four-song demo CD appears in my mailbox (thanks Troy!), much to my surprise and joy. So what I have here is basically four songs re-recorded from the 9-song demo. The opener is probably my favorite Mastodon song so far: “We Built This Come Death”. This unpredictable song is introduced by a sample that, for some reason, makes me think of that shitty “grape” flavored liquid medicine that my mother used to give me when I was sick. But the song kicks in shortly thereafter, with the guitarists doing some nice scraping sounds to make it sound like they’re winding up to introduce each blast beat section. Fuck yes…this reminds me of Lethargy all right, especially those time changes, quirky riffing, and Brann’s spastic drumming. And then they do a U-turn and move into a nice little “soft” part, before getting a little doomy with some…gang vocals? Man, what is going on in this song?! I love it! For some reason I find this song so infectious…just plain beautiful. “Hail to Fire” follows, and is pretty straightforward compared to the first track and to the typical “noisecore” stuff other bands are doing. “Welcoming War” has just a slight death metal touch to it, but what is really striking is Brann’s out-of-control drumming during the double bass parts. Finishing off the CD is “Battle at Sea”, another one of the greatest songs off the 9-song demo. This song starts off like a nice soft ballad, with a country touch to it. But then the distortion kicks in to bring in a doom element, while the vocals summon the death metal side of the band. Slowly things speed up with Brann going fucken nuts with snare rolls. Then they bust into this little rockabilly type of riffing alongside Brann’s constant tom rolls. That’s what I love about Brann’s drumming, the guy can never seem to calm down and play a normal drumbeat. Overall it’s hard to really describe Mastodon’s style, as it shifts throughout their songs. It is definitely rooted in that East Coast grind/hard-/noise-/carnival-core made (in)famous by the likes of Lethargy and Human Remains. But at the same time what I hear is completely different than everyone else, and I just can’t get enough of it! My only disappointment with this demo is that I thought the sound quality and vocal performance were better on the 9-song demo. And I hear Mastodon is playing the East Coast metal festivals. Well check them out…I wish I could! Hopefully these guys get an album together soon (Relapse???)!!
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