Given the critical acclaim afforded to Mastodon‘s recent ‘Blood Mountain’ album, it was arguably inevitable that tonight’s show – originally booked for the Mean Fiddler – would be upgraded to a larger venue, but it’s still a surprise to see the sold-out Forum so packed. Never the most straightforward of metal bands, it seems that Mastodon may be gaining a large-scale cult following in much the same way as their former tour buddies Tool did a decade ago.
Saviours are a welcome treat for early arrivers; unleashing a clutch of Sabbath-esque grooves so thunderous that they could loosen the bowels of a constipated elephant. Your reviewer curses having eaten so much for dinner, but can’t tear himself away; and with good reason too. Whilst not as musically complex as the headliners, Saviours’ imposing stage presence and sheer power mark them out as ones to watch.
Mastodon are a blindfolded rollercoaster ride of a band; taking influences from all parts of metal’s rich tapestry and twisting them towards their own intuitive ends. Inviting enough on record, they sound utterly huge in the live setting; and as the opening hardcore blast of ‘The Wolf Is Loose’ whips the front rows into a seething frenzy, it’s clear that they can do no wrong tonight.
Maybe it’s the pulsing riffs of ‘March Of The Fire Ants’ that swirl around the Forum like a particularly turbulent ocean. Maybe it’s the way that drummer Brann Dailor pulls off the most complicated of rhythms whilst making it look so painfully easy. Or maybe it’s the shit-eating grin on bassist/vocalist Troy Sanders’ face as the sledgehammer groove of ‘I Am Ahab’ threaten to shake both us and the venue’s foundations into submission. Either way, Mastodon are nothing short of thrilling when they’re on such fine form.
“Thanks for coming, we’ll see you again in June!” declares Troy before the closing ‘Hearts Alive’. If that means what we think it means, then this year’s Download festival is looking more inviting than ever.