Words by: Andrew Bruss | Images by: Steve Klise
Mastodon/Dethklok :: 10.27.09 :: House of Blues :: Boston, MA
Mastodon came through Boston's House of Blues, performing the entirety of 2009's Crack The Skye, effectively fucking the eardrums of their fans for the first of a two-night, sold out run.
Touring alongside Dethklok, the fictional cartoon metal band staring on Cartoon Network's Metalocalypse, Mastodon had their work cut out for them. Although the Atlanta-based quartet had the longest set of the two acts, the bearded, tattooed members of Mastodon found themselves performing to a crowd of greasy haired high school kids who came to support their favorite cartoon. For as many Mastodon fans as there were in the house, those in attendance for Dethklok seemed to have minimal background on the ever-intense nature of one of the most progressive metal bands in the world.
To Mastodon's credit, they sold out the venue the last time they came through Beantown, without the assistance of Dethklok. Following their performance, while stagehands set up the massive screen that Dethklok performed under, Mastodon's Brann Dailor (drums) told JamBase, "It was pretty much just as packed as the last time [we played here], but I think Dethklok is awesome. We're all huge fans of the show." He added, "The crowd seemed awesome, and I think they're going to go fucking ballistic for Dethklok."
Attendees proved responsive to Dethklok, but from the opening licks of "Oblivion," the entire crowd was eating out of Mastodon's palm. With devil horns in the air, the group's crowd moshed and head banged along to every intricate rhythm that boomed out of the house PA.
As video projections of Rasputin filled the back of the stage, Troy Sanders (bass) and Brent Hinds (guitar) traded vocal duties, the former covering the low end and the latter forcing a higher-pitch, Ozzy Osbourne-esque tone through his embattled larynx.
| Troy Sanders - Mastodon :: 10.27|
When the group went into the instrumental segments of their carefully crafted compositions, Sanders, holding down center stage, had a tendency to rock out towards the back by the drum kit, while Hinds and Bill Kelliher (guitar) flanked both sides of the stage as they powered through the intricate, multi-layered six-string components they've trademarked.
Mastodon has developed a reputation as one of the fiercest, tightest acts known to man. But if there was one member who stood out as the leader, it was Dailor. You don't see a lot of drummers who can take care of vocal responsibilities from behind their kit, and amongst those who can, Dailor put the Don Henleys of the world to shame. When describing Dailor's method, the words 'power' and 'speed' cannot be used lightly. For the entirety of their set, it seemed as though Dailor was plowing through nonstop drum rolls with the explosive energy of a frag grenade.
Although "The Czar" runs at the core of the album's Rasputin/Space Travel theme, the title track seemed to elicit the strongest response from the crowd. "Crack The Skye," written in memory of Dailor's late sister, opens on a mellower note, but in no time had the crowd stampeding in circles harder than they had for any other tune.
After the albums closer, "The Last Baron," Mastodon left the stage before an encore consisting of tunes from their other albums, 2006's Blood Mountain, and 2004's Leviathan.
Dethklok came out cloaked in black, under dim lighting that allowed Metalocalypse's behind-the-scenes masterminds to keep a low profile. Cartoon projections took the place of any effective showmanship, and as the group tore into the show's theme song, cheers erupted, although a reasonable chunk of the crowd left following Mastodon's performance.
| Dethklok :: 10.27 :: Boston|
For men whose primary job is the creation of a cartoon, Metalocalypse creators Brendon Small and Tommy Blacha deserve massive props for writing technically proficient metal tunes that can share the stage with an act like Mastodon. But unlike Mastodon, Dethklok's biggest problem lies in their authenticity. Rather than converting Mastodon fans with guitar-shredding credentials, they played to a crowd of existing fans who saw a performance that, more than anything, came across as a caricature of acts like Mastodon.
Given the lopsided nature of the bill's authenticity, in hindsight it would have been more appropriate to have Mastodon follow Dethklok, but given the finances that EA Games' Brutal Legend put into promotions, the reasoning behind the order was obvious. Regardless, even with a less-than-perfect schedule, anyone who bought a ticket to see Mastodon got to witness something they probably wouldn't have seen otherwise. And the folks in attendance who came for Dethklok likely walked away with a new appreciation of what metal can truly be.
Mastodon and Dethklok are on tour now; dates available here.
And for more on Mastodon, check our exclusive feature/interview here.
Continue reading for more images of Mastodon and Dethklok in Boston...