This is a review written on the fly, an opportunity reared it's head this morning and I resolved to take advantage. Credit must be given to Vania Yosifova for the inception of this review. Without her post in the “Heavy Psych Stoner Doom Rock” Facebook page, the event would never have come to my attention. Isn’t the future amazing sometimes?
Mastodon show Knebworth no mercy, breaking straight out with a 'Remission' album heavy set including a bruising entrance with 'March of the Fire Ants', an old fan favourite. It's easy to forget that guitarist Bill Kelliher has a mountainous voice since it is not often used but watch yourself when this track is played, behind that wonderfully groomed moustache there is still a crazed axe murderer of a voice! The lads with guitars hold onto their Silver Flying V's and 1970's Explorer's respectively, all tuned to Drop A to achieve the satisfying low end pummelling that those old Mastodon tracks employ, for almost half of the set. We are subjected to such violence as that of 'Where Strides the Behemoth', followed without pause by the forever crowd pleasing 'Mother Puncher'.
Those chaps from Atlanta bring us chronologically into their breakthrough 'Leviathan' record with the beautiful obscurity 'Aqua Dementia', Troy Sanders brings out the first of his very convincing Scott Kelly vocal impressions for the song's memorable breakdown; a stunning piece of art in the metal medium, it has to be said! We skip the masterpiece that was 'Blood Mountain' for the moment, and head straight for the emotionally cloudy territory of 'Crack the Skye' with the album's namesake track. An almighty display of the band's talent as a live act; no error, no staleness and no boredom here whatsoever! Again Troy brings out that Neurosis inspired voice to great affect, backed up by drummer Brann Dailor, who's voice is noticeably improving. Brent gets his money's worth from a custom First Act 12 string guitar. First Act seem to have become the Stoner and Doom genre's new brand of choice, I guess Gibson had to take a back seat someday.
An utterly haunting rendition of 'Ghost of Karelia' brings us out of Crack the Skye and we head for 'Blood Mountain' for a hefty dose. Orange Amps, who recently endorsed the band, are put to work creating sheer heaviness! That most mysterious track, 'Blade Catcher' appears out of nowhere and the crowd goes a little bit nuts, as if they wished to reflect the spirit of the song. Brann takes a little sneaky drum solo and I think anyone watching was wondering what the hell was Brent saying during the verse of 'Blade Catcher', there were definitely words in there before the casual whistling!
I gotta hand it to Sonisphere, the camera work was unbelievable, worthy of any festival dvd! The low angles made Mastodon look as big as their music and excellent little details and clever cutting between shots made all the difference. Bill looked rather handsome through all of this (from a totally heterosexual point of view...), the “BILL” belt buckle made my day when he lifted his guitar at the end of a faster than normal but no less intense 'Megalodon'. Troy finally says good night (at 4 in the afternoon) to Knebworth and we semi-fortunate few watching at home are wondering if they will leads us out with the recently released 'Deathbound' to go along with the backdrop featuring new artwork. As it turns out they did not, instead we got everybody's favourite 'Blood and Thunder', no disappointment there!
A review of a live stream seemed like an odd idea when I started this review but we do live in the future now and things like this are gonna change the game in unexpected ways so you gotta roll with it. I certainly wasn't upset when I found out I could watch Mastodon online in my bedroom rather than travel overseas to a festival, I already did that once this summer! To wrap this up, the fastest review Born Again Nihilist has ever produced, Mastodon gave an unreal live performance! Their minimum of crowd banter creates extra time to play more music, who could dislike that? Their stage presence has otherwise improved in my opinion: they were all more photogenic and energetic than I have seen them in some considerable time. Mastodon, you fuckin' well rock and that's just the way it is!
Mastodon, live stream from Sonisphere.
Catch the remainder of the streaming here if you hurry: http://uk.sonispherefestivals.com/sonispheretv/index.html
By Edward Gerard Brophy
For Born Again Nihilist 2011