Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Mastodon @ Salle Pleyel, Paris - June 7th, 2022

A tough decision faced every Parisian headbanger tonight: KISS or Mastodon? With all due respect to the elder statesmen of Hard Rock/Glam Rock, the spectacle of septuagenarians stuffed in faux-leather lip-syncing their way through their venerable catalogue is just not as appealing as it once was. This is, in fact, KISS' second farewell tour so, if fancy strikes, one can always catch them on their third or fourth one.

I always tend to think of Mastodon as a young band but they have now been active for over twenty years (with an unchanged line-up, no less!). For perspective, if they were Aerosmith, they'd be releasing Get A Grip. The Southerners are now bona-fide veterans of Heavy Metal and they have the repertoire to prove it: albums like The Hunter or Leviathan are now rightly considered classics of the genre. Yet, somehow, and despite having been a fan for a while now, I had never seen them live before.

I had seen some of their concert DVDs like Live at Brixton and Live at the Aragon but nothing could really prepare me for the onslaught of power I was about to experience. A Mastodon concert will absolutely annihilate your senses and pummel you into submission. This, in case you were wondering, is a good thing. Heavier than an anvil, they are a relentless bone-crushing machine. Even during the most psychedelic passages, and there are a few, there is a cathartic agression  emanating from the stage, not unlike that found at a Hardcore show, hence the constant stream of crowd surfers.

But despite the sheer heaviness of it all and the quasi-progressive structure of the compositions, what is most striking is how catchy these songs are. The serpentine riffs, the thunderous grooves, the dark harmonies in the vocals...  It's all full of furious, demented hooks. This is what distinguishes them from other current purveyors of ultra-heavy cerebral Metal. That and their three lead singers, whose voices complement each other perfectly. The two-guitar attack of Brent Hinds and Bill Killiher is also one of their trademarks, and whether they play in harmony, unison or split the rhythm and lead duties, their parts are always tasty.

The excellent new album Hushed And Grim was well represented with no less than eight songs and if fans will lament the absence of such or such songs (a few more from The Hunter, Leviathan or even anything at all from Emperor of Sand or Once More 'Round the Sun wouldn't have hurt) the setlist was excellent. For this reviewer, the highlights of the concert were probably the epic Czar suite off of Crack The Skye and set closer Blood and Thunder.

Still modern and already classic, Mastodon delivered a fantastic performance full of fire and passion. They played 90 minutes, then left without an encore but promising they'd be back soon. Just give us a little time for our eardrums to heal.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to comment on this post: