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LondonNet Gig Review


Metallic Riffage:  Atlanta's Thin Lizzy-loving metal savants besiege the Mean Fiddler.Mastodon
16/02/05

The Mean Fiddler
165 Charing Cross Road
London WC2 0EN
Tottenham Court Road


Metallic Riffage
Atlanta's Thin Lizzy-loving metal savants besiege the Mean Fiddler.

I was leaning against a pillar at a packed Mean Fiddler, waiting impatiently for the Mastodon show to start, when I was approached by a man on whom I had a good six to eight inches and probably thirty pounds. I hunched over and listened to him rant about the majesty of the band taking stage, acquiescing with a nod every now and again, feeling even more Amazonian than usual. After the band completed a churning, face-melting rendition of Island, he turned to me and said, grinning, "That Brann Dailor is one sick bastard." Indeed.

It was strangely, if aptly, emblematic of the entire show - an aural assault perpetrated by the coupling of the Atlanta, Georgia band's exemplary technical prowess and penchant for truly epic rocking. It doesn't seem befitting, though, to talk about them in technical or academic terms (Melville references notwithstanding), but rather in the simple sort of superlatives employed by my new acquaintance, who could be called no less than a superfan. Since becoming unlikely critical darlings, Dailor and co. have been able to straddle a fan base that encompasses both metal purists and dabblers, perhaps because of a brand of metal alchemy that spawns a staggeringly intricate yet accessible brand of steely heaviness.

Accordingly, though, a reserved foot-tapping didn't suffice as the band ripped into "Megladon" from their new album Leviathan - I found myself gritting teeth and (almost) head banging, although I eventually had to move away from my diminutive pal as he launched into a weird frenetic mix of Tantric head-bobbing. The magnificently anthemic "I Am Ahab" garnered an audience chorus sing-along, and the deified poses the band struck immediately afterwards, with guitars held overhead, seemed in celebration of having harpooned the leviathan himself.

Although they're firmly rooted in metal, vestiges of hardcore tinge the band's sinuous sound. Wicked riffs surface amongst Mastodon's bass laden, driving metal, and belie a penchant for the sort of rock gods of yore that wielded their instruments like phallic extensions - the band summoned the spectre Thin Lizzy with a cover of "Emerald" before a thundering rendition of the Melvins's "Bit". After the show, I passed by a man taking swills from a bottle of beer whose ears appeared encrusted by dried blood. I guess it could have been incidental - a result of poor hygiene - but I'd like to think it was just a telling index of the sheer girth of Mastodon's sound.

Ashley Brown

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