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Forgot your password? Retrieve it. Get promoted. Powered by OnRad. Think you know music? Test your MusicIQ here! One of the biggest metal bands in the mainstream of today and I mean the real mainstream. The shit capable of charting and the kinds of bands that people who just watch MTV for Jersey Shore reruns might have heard of is of course, Atlanta's Mastodon.
I decided to start this series for a few reasons. One was that I used to be a huge fan of the band. Really, their first three albums were always in fairly regular rotation from aboutand I think it'd be fun for me to take a trip down memory lane. The other is because the reason this is a trip down a long forgotten path instead of a simple retrospective is because I haven't listened to them at all for the last four years.
Yes, Crack the Skye was so unbearably awful that it somehow managed to make everything before it sound like shit to me. It was like The Matrix sequels. And since I've stopped listening to them, they apparently became the new Metallica, so curiosity is leading me to re-explore and re-evaluate the band's career in some attempt to understand how in the everloving fuck that wound up happening to a band that managed to squander away their songwriting capabilities so marvelously.
So inafter gathering up a huge amount of buzz via their two EPs the previous year Slick Leg and LifesbloodMastodon managed to sign to the legendary Relapse Records, and start their career already a few steps ahead of most young, innovative new bands. And their debut, Remissionactually holds up pretty well, even a decade later. What this presented was a very hungry young band, out to set the world on fire. Remission manages to do just that, with it's insanely chaotic approach to extreme music, dashed with influences of hardcore, sludge, and bluesy southern rock.
Back at this time, for those of you who got into metal around the time Dragonforce was wrapping up production on their fourth album never has a young person felt so old than in the metal scene! There were chaotic bands, there were noisy bands, there were sludgy, heavy, and bluesy bands, but few that wrapped all of it up in such a nice, appealing package in the way that this band did.
Even less so getting frequent airplay on MTV and a major label Crusher Destroyer machine. So at the time, this really was a cool experience. The long, psyched out jam in "Elephant Man" was so different from the thunderously heavy "Crusher Destroyer" which was so different from the unremittingly dense "Where Strides the Behemoth". It's a very fun, flavorful album, with enough running threads and common themes between tracks to keep the varied experience cohesive.
The one aspect that absolutely cannot be ignored is Brann Dailor's absolutely frantic drumming. Bill Ward once said that the reason he injected Black Sabbath with so many drum fills was because he had trouble keeping time, and so throwing in a fill every few bars gave him the ability to break into free time for a short while so he could collect himself and get back to where he needed to be. I don't doubt Dailor is more than competent enough to be able to keep time like a human metronome, but he emulates Ward so closely in the frequency, diversity, and intensity of his fills here that I can't help but wonder.
One sad, lonely evening as a teenager, I actually sat down Crusher Destroyer listened to the first two Mastodon albums to see how long they went without a drum fill, and I'm pretty sure my calculations ended up being somewhere around "every four bars, twelve seconds being the longest gap between them". He really ends up being the leader of this band despite being the only member not to contribute vocals.
His showy, flashy style ends Crusher Destroyer being one of the most memorable elements of the early albums, and this doesn't bother me in the slightest since he's very skilled, and it helps add memorability Crusher Destroyer his performance. So even if I ended up fucking hating this album, at least I wouldn't forget it. I would at the very least remember the complete spaz of a drummer.
And luckily enough, I don't hate this album. In fact I feel like it's quite good, and has managed to stand the test of time as an enjoyable modern metal album. It's hard to pigeonhole Remission into any one particular subgenre of music. There are definitely huge heaping helpings of High on Fire in here, such as "Where Strides the Behemoth" and "Trainwreck", and not to mention the slightly prog rock styled darkness of the acoustic segments in "Ole' Nessie", "Trilobite", and "Elephant Man". Unsurprisingly though, I feel the best tracks are the shorter, faster ones; the ones where the band just completely lets loose and delivers a chaotic, frenzied experience complete with memorable riffs and melodies.
Unfortunately, they also stand out the most because the long tripped out songs are pretty fantastically dull. Yeah, "Ole' Nessie", "Trainwreck", and "Trilobite" do a decent job of keeping the flow of the album going, but as tracks themselves they're just needlessly boring.
I get a feeling that the "progressive" part of their genre comes from tracks like this, the long ones that drone on endlessly with jazzy percussion and long sections of harmonized lead lines. They don't make the entire album boring, thankfully, and they're each spaced out by putting a fast, catchy song in between them all, but if you're not leaving the album on in the background or something like say The band's strength lies in the fast and the midpaced, and most of these songs are indeed midpaced, but when their ideas are stretched out for too long, they tend to lose their luster, and that sucks because it means the album periodically loses steam after the first four tracks finish.
They're just Yeah, the band would be better off in the future when they dropped the idea of putting multiple long droning tracks on each album. Overall the first four tracks are all great, with a strong High on Fire type stoner metal vibe, mixed in with healthy amounts of noisy hardcore and a very subtle southern sludge flavor, with "Burning Man" and "Mother Puncher" doing the same on the latter half of the album.
The more progressive songs, on the other hand, are kinda lame. You can do without the five tracks that aren't the six I just mentioned, as they're really inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. If nothing else, it's a very dense and suffocatingly heavy album for most of it's duration, even during the boring songs, and it serves as a neat reminder of the band's roots in hindsight, because they never got heavier than this.
I most certainly would not have expected Mastodon to become one of the biggest and most popular ambassadors for heavy music in the media's eye based on this inhumanly thick and impenetrable album, that's for sure. Mastodon's "Remission" is certainly one of the most criminally-misunderstood and underrated heavy metal albums, although with the band's newly garnered popularity and expansion of its fan base, it's certainly gotten a lot more attention at this point.
I came across this beast and couldn't put it down for about 6 months. I decided to pick it up again recently and give it a listen and boy, have I been missing out. First of all, Mastodon is far, far from your average heavy metal band. This album is full of riffs of all sorts, nothing virtuoso, but they're still fairly talented. That being said, a lot of the leading comes from the drummer, Brann Dailor, who has already brandished himself as one of the best heavy metal drummers in the modern era.
This is an immediate turn-off for many heavy metal fans and reviewers, but I find it quite refreshing and a new idea that has never been tried or executed as appropriately. What you get is that a lot of the riffs either repeat themselves or move to a different octave and you always get some kind of capitulation - classic, right?
Except it doesn't sound this way with Brann Dailor. I would say he's the mastermind behind this album. Now, the vocals are a little strange and I am fairly certain no one can sing like that live, and based on what I've seen, that's definitely true. The vocals are very powerful, although nearly incomprehensible for the most part. This is perhaps a second reason why this album has received less praise as it should, because the vocals sometimes border death metal, although this album is not an extreme metal album.
While modern Mastodon vocals are characterized by a lot of clean, harmonious singing, this stuff is full of grind and grit, therefore fans of the more commercial stuff have been warned. The songs are genuinely well-written and the riffs are extremely catchy. I would say Brent and Bill have really showed the signs of their riffing genius early on as a lot of the riffs on this record are very catchy and very well-phrased.
Again, it's the drums that really take control of the record, but do not overlook how well some of these riffs are played. My only qualm with this album is that, unfortunately, Mastodon aren't great soloists. While classic heavy metal bands like Metallica, Pantera, Megadeth, and hell, even Slayer have come up with some great solos especially the first two bandsthis album doesn't really have any good solo work at all, not even mindless shredding like you'd expect. I also must say the bass is almost inaudible, which is to be expected given how distorted the guitars are.
Overall, this is a classic album. It does have Crusher Destroyer shortcoming and for the heavy metal xenophobes out there, it can be a little intimidating and, dare I say, pretty sophisticated for the audience it is intended for. But nonetheless, this is a fine debut album by one of the modern greats within this profound genre of music. The two bands are hardly related aside from the band members, name, etc. However, it is important to know where these globally recognized musicians began their careers together.
Remission certainly has an interesting cover, as a horse being eviscerated by some unknown force would catch the attention of many an eye. The sole artwork on the back contrasts that with a faceless man, and the artwork in the lyrics booklet is no less than peculiar, as are the lyrics that they provide the backdrop for. Speaking of which, the band does an interesting job with lyrics, delivering poetic storytelling with but a few words. At other times, such as in Mother Puncher awesome name for a song, by the wayprovide a relatively different set of emotions, to say the least.
The vocals on this album are very different from later Mastodon, when they have some guy doing really whiny stuff. They did make a nice choice of presenting the listener with a song free of vocals in the closer track, Elephant Man. Magic moment right there folks; but not the magic moment of the album; we will get to that later. The previously mentioned Mother Puncher also shows the vocalist really getting into it, and the results of his connection to the lyrics help make the song memorable.
The guitar provides mostly sludge based riffing with some intense thrash influences that help provide chugging riffs. March of the Fire Ants and Crusher Destroyer have really unique riffs that stick with you for the rest of the album, as you, the listener, dare Mastodon to see if they can top themselves. I think this track in particular welcomed a new sound that Mastodon would continue with for the rest of this album.
Simple as that. Another perfect combination. You need to login to do this. Get Known if you don't have an account. The music videos were a way for us to put more of our personality into it as far as our sense of humor, or making it twisted somehow, or different, or bizarre, or provocative. Show Spoilers.
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