The God’s of metal are smiling down on Sunset Blvd Friday night as Mastodon rips through an inspired set at a sold-out Hollywood Palladium.
With their eighth studio album “Emperor of Sand” freshly reaching no. 7 on the Billboard Top 200 chart, the Atlanta-based foursome Mastodon make a stop off at the famed Hollywood Palladium on one of their first legs of a twenty-nine city tour. Along for the ride is SoCal’s boogie-woogie rockers Eagles of Death Metal, and the Chicago-based three-piece metallers Russian Circles. Together these three distinctly different groups put together an unforgettable night filled with hellish mosh pits, some deeply introspective grooves, and a whole hell of a lot of banging heads.
First up for the night is Russian Circles. The well-oiled threesome wastes no time in captivating a rapidly filling audience with their epically cavernous instrumental grooves. Their sound is a beautiful balance of aggressively militant, perfectly driven drum and bassline coupled with highly pensive guitar riffs that seem to transport the audience into a whole different realm. Heads nod in unison along with drummer Dave Turncrantz’s thunderous beat as guitarist Mike Sullivan’s murky riffs echo into the crowd’s ears.
Next in line is the sonic orgasm known as the Eagles of Death Metal. Tonight is a “big shit deal” to the hometown crew as this is the first time they will be playing this historic venue. They get right down to business with a dripping version of “I Only Want You.” Brent Hinds joins them on the sassy number, and he and Dave Catching look like two kids in a candy store as they trade off riffs.
The enigmatic Jesse Hughes has a natural born gift of making an audience of thousands feel like they are all just hanging out at his backyard keg party while he generously offers up his unique brand of sexy. He prances around the stage with an unapologetically machismo bravado seldom seen by rock n rollers nowadays.
Another crowd favorite is “Silverlake” where Hughes trades off lyrics with the band’s newest member, bassist Jennie Vee. Elle King then comes out on stage to join in on a groovy version of Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck In The Middle With You.” The house is sufficiently brought down with the final serving of the night, a raucous rendition of “Speaking in Tongues” where each member of the band got to rip through a solo of their own.
On any given night, either one of these first two bands would easily be headliners in any venue in the country. But tonight is Mastodon’s night to shine. And from the first note driven into our ears from Brent Hinds’ Gibson guitar that’s just what they do. They start things off with “Sultan’s Curse”, the first track off their best selling album “Emperor of Sand.” Hinds trades off searing riffs with Bill Kelliher while Troy Sanders punches us in the gut with his vocals.
“Megalodon” sends the crowd into a frenzied mosh as Hinds and Kelliher knockout riffs that hit home like a Tyson uppercut. On “Roots Remain” drummer Brann Drailor not only highlights his impossibly fast fills on drums but also soaringly high vocals. It’s an amazing sight to see someone moving with such rapid precision with all four appendages, all the while having such impeccable control over his vocals.
“Chimes at Midnight” sends fists flying high as Sanders growls furiously through the hard driving number. “March of the Fire Ants” is the final offering for the night and once again Sanders prowls the stage like a caged animal as Hinds and Kelliher drive home ripping harmonies, and Drailor keeps an insurmountable pace on drums, leaving us with no doubts that we’ve just witnessed four of the most gifted talents in metal.
There’s still a number of dates left on their tour. For more information and tickets click on the link below:
by Matt Stasi / Photos by Matt Stasi