There are some bands that burst forth from a scene and develop their own musical philosophy and style. In doing so, they influence other bands to greatness and cull a following that hangs on every release, every song, and every note. Such bands become legend, and NEUROSIS, love them or not, are.
A band that soon realized the crusty Hardcore scene and its trappings were too limiting for their ultimate vision, NEUROSIS nurtured and perfected a sound that has sophistication, heaviness and a depth that many strive for but cannot achieve. Fans allow themselves to be submerged in it; others disregard it as over-hyped, overwrought, and boring. NEUROSIS is not for everyone, but for those who “get it”, their music is almost a religious thing, and seeing them live is like going to church.
NEUROSIS is not a band of road warriors by any stretch. True to their approach to music – which is their way, not yours – they tour when their job and family obligations allow. So to see them live is special, not only because opportunities are few, but because there really isn’t any band like them live. Their stop through Atlanta was to demonstrate that even if you aren’t a fan, they have a power onstage and a sway over their fans that is impressive.
But before NEUROSIS took the stage, they had openers that more than primed the audience for them. NEUROSIS runs their own label, Neurot Recordings, and they had label signees U.S. CHRISTMAS (USX), start the night off. Sludgy, yet Bluesy, crunchy with hints of Folk, U.S. CHRISTMAS is, like NEUROSIS already has, forging their own sound. Vocalist NATE HALL alternated between hollering (in a good way) and clean vocals, while his guitar and the rest of the band painted an original sonic landscape. Of note is violinist MEGHAN MULHEARN, whose violin to U.S. CHRISTMAS is like SCOTT KELLY‘s guitar to his band; supportive, not flashy, adding depth and color. If you dig a slower stoner vibe with a Psychedelic bent you will like this band.
Next up was PRIMATE, a punkish ‘supergroup’ of sorts featuring KEVIN SHARP of BRUTAL TRUTH and Bill Kelliher of MASTODON. They took to the stage and immediately went full-throttle. It is always nice to see Bill Kelliher do his thing, and I dig PRIMATE’s sound, but they did seem out of place on the bill. On a night where the other bands had their raging sounds under tight control and there were very few stage gyrations and antics, PRIMATE’s performance was unbridled and wild. However, it could be looked at as a sonic break from a night full of Sludge!
CT of RWAKE
Next up was RWAKE, another sludgy band with a twist that has managed to create something rather unique in a Metal world that has pretty much done and seen it all. Incorporating a Moog synthesizer and tandem screams from vocalists C.T. and B., RWAKE pummeled through a set that showed the musical synergy between its members. Some bands radiate a vibe, and RWAKE’s vibe was all business, rarely allowing the crowd to come up for air. Those who had not seen this band live before should have had a new respect for them. They were a great choice to be the band right before the mighty NEUROSIS.
First off, there is no just grabbing a NEUROSIS CD and expecting it to make sense on first listen. They are not that kind of band. If you like a band’s live performance to consist of flinging themselves all over the stage and pandering to the crowd, they will disappoint you. Their music demands your undivided attention; it makes you either submit to its complexities or annoy and bore the piss out of you with its mood swings, spoken word pieces and ambient passages. However, make no mistake; NEUROSIS is probably the heaviest band you will ever witness. Its sheer musical weight, as in real density, is almost tangible. Even the quieter moments stand on your shoulders, daring you to speak. The bass of DAVE EDWARDSON rumbled deep as he and his bright purple buzzcut undulated/ They were so deep into their own performance, keyboardist/sampler NOAH LANDIS cut his forehead while rocking out and seemed oblivious to it. And while they played, there was no one cheering out of place, no rampant horn-throwing, no moshpit, no chicks on their boyfriend’s shoulders getting their tits out. No. There was a reverence, a deep respect shown to the band to where it felt that it would have been rude – wrong, even – to do any of those things. The fans were there to absorb every note, revel in the perfect light show, allowing the voices of STEVEN VON TILL and SCOTT KELLY to resonate into our very cores. The band was perfect, with four songs of the set coming from their latest release, “Honor Found In Decay”. The set featured two songs from “Given to the Rising”, one from “Times of Grace”, one from “The Eye of Every Storm” and two from “Through Silver In Blood”.
Before you think that the crowd was half-asleep, that was certainly not the case. The energy pouring back and forth between the band and the audience was palpable. The crowd grooved and swayed, threw their arms in the air and sang along to the lyrics that spoke to them. We all headbanged in a quiet rhythm when the band dug in and ground out the heavy, and stood hushed on pins and needles when the slower, more pensive sections of music came around. It was all a build to the climactic performance that brought the much-loved and anticipated “Through Silver In Blood”, Neurosis’ 12-minute-plus sonic opus that plumbs the depth of rhythm, heaviness, dynamics and vocal power. VON TILL banged on some drums along with JASON ROEDER, while the crowd finally swirled and screamed in unison.
No stage talk, no song names, no band member intros and no encore. None were necessary. The enigmatic KELLY came back out and took a picture of the crowd, then slid into the backstage darkness with the rest of the band, leaving behind happy fans and others who were still processing what they just experienced. Neurosis proves that you don’t need to have fire, props or dancing girls onstage to make a great show; you just need to do what you do with such conviction and confidence that the audience can’t help but be fascinated. NEUROSIS is still on the road, so catch them while you can as we never know when they’ll come around again. If you’ve never seen them live this is an opportunity to witness something more than just another Metal show, and see the band that – for good reason – has influenced so many others.
It’s happened a million times before. Bands head out on tour together a few times, or play some local shows side by side, and before you know it a couple members from one band and a couple members from the other utter the inevitable: “We should totally do a project together!” Where it goes from there could be any number of directions, but it often boils down to a common two.
The first and most likely destination is nowhere. Everyone goes home, sobers up, and forgets about their drunken expressions of utter devotion to the new undertaking and professions of unleashing fresh fury upon the scene. Second is somewhere, but nowhere good. The new best band mates for life get together and mash their collective influences into a genetic mess of a new genre that even the proud new progenitors don’t like.
But when members of MASTODON, BRUTAL TRUTH, THE DESPISED, and OTOPHOBIA get together, there is a third option. Everyone puts all that other B.S. aside and gets down with some good ol’ fashioned dirty punk and grind. BRUTAL TRUTH’s KEVIN SHARP (vocals), MASTODON’s BILL KELLIHER (guitar), along with MIKE BRENNAN (guitar), DAVE WHITWORTH (bass), and SHAYNE HUFF (drums), are the parts that make up the sum of PRIMATE, a punk and grind super group for people who pierce their eardrums with an ice pick at the mere mention of the term super group.
Draw Back A Stump, PRIMATE’s first full-length, sets the basic, belligerent tone with the title track. Sharp’s maniacal ranting on the tenets of Chaos Theory leads into punked-out pinch harmonic grind riffs spewed forth alongside raw, venomous hatred. But considering the grind pedigree of PRIMATE’s front man, this album is far more punk than grindcore. “Global Division” follows up the initial offering with some hardcore and d-beat with southern inflections, understandable given the band hails from Atlanta. The lyrics are typical socially conscious but no less poignant punk fare—“A world of confusion/We live in delusion”–and Sharp does have a knack for the vocal hook that’s immediate and timely.
Kelliher and Brennan let their southern flags fly in their lead work from time to time, but this is no twangy SKYNYRD love fest. It’s hardcore punk bombast and fist pumping pogo all the way with clean production, four chords, and five lifetime’s worth of scene credibility wrapped up in an airtight and ferocious package. Sharp is always Sharp, whether he’s emitting tortured screams or his one-of-a-kind gruff and honest delivery. Songs like “Silence of Violence” seem to have a bit of Euro-crust influence to them, with semi-melodic hooks and thick, memorable riffs. “Drinking and Driving,” a BLACK FLAG cover, the longest track on the record at just under three minutes, is faithful to the original. PRIMATE’s guitar duo perfectly captures GREG GINN’s acid jazz punk leads while Sharp channels the acerbic anger of HENRY ROLLINS.
There are quick blasts of all out rage to be heard as well, like the 46-second “Get the Fuck off My Lawn.” A more appropriate song title for a group of aging punkers I couldn’t imagine. Metallic moments like the lead riff on “March of the Curmudgeon” rear their ugly heads from time to time as well. Though the band has a Mastodon member in its ranks, there’s nary a progressive hint to be heard.
All in all what we have here is a fitting tribute to classic punk, d-beat, and grind sounds that doesn’t attempt to Mastodon plus Brutal Truth equals some kind of bastard child of beardo progressive rock and angry politico grind. The PRIMATE boys have left their regular gigs at home for this one, for the most part, and decided to make something entirely new, the kind of hardcore they probably all crank in the den in the wee hours once the little ones have toddled off to bed. It’s not breaking any boundaries, but it is a warning shot across the bow of punk gone safe from an old guard that is nowhere near ready to be referred to as the old guard with anything less than the right amount of respect, and they have earned it anew with Draw Back a Stump. Get the fuck off my lawn indeed.
PRIMATE: A super-group that for a change, is really super!
Steve Austin of the metal world is not to be confused with the television character Lee Majors played on TV in the 1970′s although he is in a way the Six-Million Dollar man of underground metal. A hero to many, Steve’s reputation does precede him. A legendary producer of other bands and through his own work with TODAY IS THE DAY, he has carved out a unique path of which only he has been the mainstay constant. When Austin works on a project for himself or others it is often and event and he has been remarkably consistent throughout his twenty-plus years in music. Pain Is a Warning is no different than all of his works: chaotic, pretty, sick and twisted. Austin’s perspectives on songwriting and lyrical style bleeds through the speakers and hits you square in the face and the heart. In a small way, he wrote the book on succeeding artistically in the underground a long time ago and he is still emulated and studied by many. As he should be.
“Expectations Exceed Reality” kick things off with a disjointed little ditty which finds Austin in brutal and sleek musical form. Frightening is a word I do not use lightly and this first song has a scary aspect to its riffage and scream therapy vocals. Immediately following that up with “Death Curse”, you get a blast of blackened death metal to rival any current hotshot band. You can tell that the time in between his last album four years ago has not tempered the beast in him at all. Austin leads the way, but he is not alone. Past lineups of the band and guests have included names like Brad Elrod, Mike Herell, Brann Dailor, Bill Kelliher, Chris Debari, Derek Roddy, Seth Putnam (R.I.P.) Jackie Peretz-Gratz to name a few so he always has the highest talent surrounding him. Drummer Curran Reynolds and bassist Ryan Jones are not mere sidemen even if it is ultimately Austin’s show. They turn in brilliant performances and shine as equals next to the giant. The song “Pain Is A Warning” has amazing dynamic sensibility and just builds and builds over time. Austin’s trademark lyrics and textured guitar work are present an accounted for as well. “Wheelin” with its stabbing riffs and neck-breaking beat takes the form of anger unleashed. Austin’s caterwauling pierces the ferocious din of the chords and you wonder how he doesn’t blow his vocal chords right out of his neck. “The Devil’s Blood” takes the form of an epic hard rock song that transforms into a thrash killer. There are even hardcore sing-a-long vocals here that add to the fun feel of the track. “Remember To Forget” is like a stillborn, demented country tune complete with confessional lyrics and ominous overtones. “Slave to Serenity” is another top flight song with sinister music that sounds like an advancing army is about make war on a small village. Downshifting gears once again is “This Is You”. A completely introspective ballad with chiming guitars and a somber mood, Austin comes off like a modern LEONARD COHEN or a mellow FRANK BLACK (whom he really sounds a lot like here). There are some great dramatic drums in the second verse that give it a little more hopefulness towards the end. Lest you think he has lost him mind album closer “Samurai” is noisy and obtuse full of razor wire riffs and more anguished yelling. Although none of the music here is groundbreaking all the songs are well crafted. Austin has been ripped off and copied so much it is refreshing that he still follows his own road and doesn’t repeat himself. He has been at the point for a long time where he makes music to please only himself and answers only to his own muse. If we are lucky he’ll hear that siren’s call for a long time.
Steve Austin wants you to know this: you wouldn't like him when he's angry. Then again, you might.
So, what do you get when you combine MASTODON’s Bill Kelliher and the shattering vocals of BRUTAL TRUTH’s Kevin Sharp? You get PRIMATE, a completely new and unique take on grind that has now announced a new deal with RELAPSE RECORDS. The band is an evolution of grind and were one of the headliners at last year’s SCION MUSIC FEST, after they released their ‘Draw Back A Stump’ EP. Now the band will release their debut full length on Relapse.
I became hooked on them from that EP and have been anxiously awaiting this full length for a long time. Check out some PRIMATE below and let us know what you think about the collaboration.
I have had a lot of EP’s and shorter albums run across my desk of late and brevity seems to be where it’s at in terms of quality. I finally got around to checking out the highly anticipated debut from grindcore supergroup PRIMATE (not to be confused with PRIMUS or the hundred other bands who have had this name). This biting little EP comes in at about sixteen minutes long, but packs an enough wallop for hours. The band made its debut earlier this year with a small, southern US tour capped by an appearance at the Scion Rock Fest in California. The band played about twenty-six songs in half an hour that day, or so the story goes.
In the first twenty seconds of the title track vocalist Kevin Sharp (BRUTAL TRUTH/VENOMOUS CONCEPT/PURIFIED IN PAIN) details Chaos Theory so well you’d think he was an applied mathematics teacher at MIT rather than a legendary screamer in bands. If you know Sharp’s work from his other groups or his writing inDecibel Magazine the intellect, rage and sarcastic smarts in the lyrics and vocal delivery won’t come as a surprise to you. Musically, Draw Back A Stump has all the bells and whistles of old-school hardcore and the best of modern sludgey-grind that I personally can’t get enough of. Musically the band is like an all-star team of Atlanta underground metallers like guitarist Evan Bartelson (HALLOWS EVE/CURMUGEON), bassist/vocalist Dave Whitworth (THE DESPISED/CURMUGEON) and drummer Shayne Huff (THE DESPISED/CURMUGEON). Also in the fold is MASTODON’s Bill Kelliher which adds to the curiosity factor, but may also mean contending with Warner Bros. Records if they ever have bigger ambitions this release. Songs like “Global Division” and “Hellbound” tackle revered old themes of dissent and dismay and other dis-words I can think of. Despite the speed and ferocity of the tracks there is a reserved bit of soulfulness in them, added either by the vocals or some tasteful punk-ish leads by Keliher and Bartelson. The next song is a cover song of (my favorite) BLACK FLAG song “Drinking and Driving”. Bands do covers for two reasons: to show the listener where their head is at or to reinterpret it in their own style. This version is faithful to the original and definitely works with the other tracks here. “Wasted Youth”, “Pride” and “Reform” also have the mark of classic, lo-fi goodness that doesn’t try to temper the boiling tumult with nice production. “Pride” in particular is an amazing little stomper with a cool fuzzed out bass line by Whitworth.
The band promises a full length in the future, although what length that will be is anyone’s guess. You can get this record directly from the band here.
The very, very good folks at Scion (hello Adam Shore) have now spent three years and god knows how many dollars targeting underground metallers as a first car purchasing demographic. They’ve flown bands in for free shows all over the US. They’ve released free EP’s from the likes of Magrudergrind. They also hold an annual festival now in its third year that showcases everyone from the most up and coming (in 2008 Mastodoon, Baroness and Converge graced the outdoor stage of the Masquerade in Atlanta) to the most anticipated. This year it was the first US showing of Morbid Angel, now fresh from the studio and ready to unleash a too long awaited LP signaling the return of frontman David Vincent and some of their most twisted compositions to date.
Let’s cut to the action. Singapore grind artists Wormrot opened the festivities with one of the best-received sets of the day. The tent in which they played was packed to the gills as the bass-less three-piece flew through a set mostly culled from their Earache Records Abuse LP. (9). Portlanders Christian Mistress then took the stage at The Glasshouse to a crowd that was not disappointed by their worship of the NWOHM. Think Diamond Head fronted by the vocal grit of one Christine Davis. (8). Now what would be a celebration of underground metal in LA be without brutal jokesters Crom who opened the main stage at the Fox Theater. The building’s acoustics didn’t seem to help their case, but then again, a Crom show is about simple low-tuned riffs and plodding acoustics. Was it good? Who cares? It was Crom. (5).
Dark Castle was the first band to abuse the subs in tent #2. Think The White Stripes on codeine and steroids: this male-female two piece generate a far louder and uglier racket than they have any right to. Can’t wait for their Profound Lore LP later this year (8). One can’t be everywhere at all times but word was that Fuck The Facts put in one of the sets of the day.
The biggest disappointment of the festival was Norway’s Kvelertak no-show. Word was that all of the band’s passports had been stolen in one of the member’s back-packs and they weren’t going to be able to replace them in time for the Scion Festival. Apparently, the buzzed-about hardcore-or-whatever contenders will be able to get into the US at least for the South By Southwest festival in the middle of March. Black Cobra subbed for them at the Fox Theater and generated a righteous, groove-laden racket at ear-squeezing volumes. The two-piece answered the call of duty but did struggle a bit with the big room’s acoustics (6).
Let’s talk about Atlanta’s Primate. Largely known for the profile of two members involved – Brutal Truth vocalist Kevin Sharp and guitarist Bill Kelliher – Primate is neither brutal grind nor populace-pleasing prog metal. To quote Mr. Sharpe it’s “a bunch of old fat guys playing hardcore”.” And that is precisely what you got when Primate hit stage. While their album has literally been relegated to a merch table item (though it has definitely been downloaded far and wide) and kept out of stores over what the powers-that-be feel might be a conflict with Kelliher’s Masto-job, Primate’s songs are good ol’ fashioned HC anthems like the explosive “Wasted Youth”. When this jiggly-fleshed ensemble lurch into a cover of Black Flag’s “Drinking and Driving” it’s done with the ferocity and humor of a bunch of guys who truly “get it”.
A quick run to The Glasshouse for Floridian progressive death metal technicians Atheist only serves to prove that where they excel and set the pace on record, especially last year’s epic Jupiter album, they come up a bit short live. Then again, I’ve never been a big fan of vocalist Kelly Schaeffer’s onstage presence. (6) Death Angel, on the other band, is up there with the best in the business when it comes to revisiting the old school. Their set is a mixture of recent material as well as songs that go back to their late 80’s debut, The Ultraviolence. The Bay Area thrash squad has only improved with time, frontman Mark Osegueda a mass of dreads, scowls and energy that sucks the crowd in holds them til the very end. (9) It looks like LA thrash young ‘uns Bonded By Blood may actually have learned a few tricks from Death Angel as their recent tour mates, turning in a set that showed how far they’ve from come from being just another name in the new school thrash gambit. (8)
2011 looks like it will be one of the most exciting years for heavy music in recent memory. No, we’re not expecting albums from the likes of Slayer or Metallica like we were back in ’09 ,but we do have an incredible lineup of records on the way! Here are my Top 20 Most Anticipated for 2011:
20. Cave In – ‘White Silence’ (Hydra Head)
19. Amon – ‘Liar in the Wait’ (Season of Mist): What can I say, it will certainly be interesting to see just what the Hoffman bros have been up to since they left Deicide. Plus, I have to believe that this release will trigger some kind of public feud between Amon and Deicide, which I’m always a fan of…
18. Autopsy – ‘Macabre Eternal’ (Peaceville)
17. Gallhammer – TBA (Peaceville) – One of the bands that ushered in the new breed of blackened crust punk. These girls are one of the best exports in Japanese history… and, yeah, I’m looking right at you Playstation…
16. Loss – ‘Despond’ (Profound Lore)
15. Backstabber Incorporated – ‘MIA’ (Deathwish) – For those who don’t know who this is, fuck off… This is the band that ultimately led to Trap Them. Now, Brian and Ryan are no longer in the fold, but the band was always fun so I’m excited to see what they’re bringing now!
14. Pig Destroyer – TBA (Relapse)
13. Gorgoroth – TBA (Regain) – One of the best Norwegian black metal bands of all time. Sure, they’ve been overshadowed by a metric shit ton of controversy over the last few years and kicked everyone out of the band at times, but they still manage to pull it together and make sick, visceral records. Going to be awesome!
12. TesseracT – ‘One’ (Century Media)
11. Owen Hart – ‘Earth Control’ (Vitriol) – This band has started to get some heat on them but they’re still relatively unknown. However, 2011 is going to change that. Clever, harsh and hailing from the great metal state of Washington, Owen Hart are going to bash your fucking brains in this year!
10. Disma – TBA (Profound Lore)
9. Primate – ‘Pull Back A Stump’ (Scion A/V) – What really needs to be said other than this is Kevin Sharp (Brutal Truth) and Bill Kelliher (Mastodon). It sounds like a mash-up of their two bands and I’m beyond excited to hear the full outcome of their work together.
8. Altar of Plagues – ‘Mammal’ (Profound Lore)
7. Wolvhammer – TBA (Profound Lore) – One of my favorite new bands from last year is back with a vengeance. Seriously, go back and listen to ‘Black Marketeers of World War III’ and tell me that your mind isn’t blown. The band is incredible and hopefully going to be on display for a much bigger audience thanks to their association with Profound Lore.
6. Crowbar – ‘Sever the Wicked Hand’ (E1)
5. Dragged Into Sunlight – ‘Hatred For Mankind’ (Prosthetic) – This record would’ve been higher if it wasn’t a re-release. Not to say that you shouldn’t check it out, but I got this record a while back when it was originally released in the UK. Now the band has teamed up with Prosthetic and this nasty Eyehategod-meets-Godflesh masterpiece will finally be available in the states. It’s truly a sick and disturbing look at just how dark metal can be! Please bring them over here to tour NOW!
4. Krallice – TBA (Profound Lore) – Krallice has quietly become a household name in the world of extreme metal. They took over the hipsters and then the underground and I think most people would agree that they are one of the best American purveyors of Black Metal these days. ‘Dimensional Bleedthrough’ was a huge breakthrough for them and got them a lot of attention, this will be the record that pushes them over the top!
3. Nachtmystium – TBA (Century Media) – Everyone knows why Nachtmystium made the list. Simply put, everything the band has touched over the last 5+ years has been stunning and brilliant. This will be no different. Although, hipsters may want to take notice that master mind Blake Judd says this record will be a raw, old school black metal record. Not for the faint of heart!
2. KEN mode – ‘Venerable’ (Profound Lore) – KEN mode (short for Kill Everyone Now mode, thanks Henry Rollins) is one of the coolest bands in the scene right now. Borrowing the best moments from noise rock and incorporating them within a massive avalanche of hardcore animosity, KEN mode has made a brilliant new offering. Plus, ‘Venerable’ was produced by Kurt Ballou (of Converge) and added Mares of Thrace ass-kicker Therese Lanz to the fold…. This will be a breakout record!
1. TRAP THEM – ‘Darker Handcraft’ (Prosthetic) – Easy choice for me. This is simply the best band working in modern metal these days. Effortlessly combining black metal, hardcore, Wolverine Blues-esque death metal and grind into one of the darkest (yet accessible) sounds of the 2000s. Trap Them has taken the throne as the new kings of the underground. I’ve been lucky enough to hear ‘Darker Handcraft’ and it’s easily the best thing the band has ever done. It’s vicious, blazing and all the while it maintains a sense of groove and catchiness. This is the album to beat in 2011!
Redemption. It’s not a word that gets thrown around a lot when the topic turns to metal bands. Although retribution is certainly the topic of many metal songs, redemption is a concept that is occasionally too vague for some to grasp. The BLACKDIAMONDSKYE tour featuring ALICE IN CHAINS, THE DEFTONES and MASTODON is surely one of the top concert events of the fall, if not the entire year. However, each band coming to the stage on this night had a lot to prove to themselves and their many fans. Each band has faced a turmoil that has weighed heavily on them. Each band goes out every night and plays with a little bigger chip on their shoulder than many others at this level. What follows is the proof.
MASTODON certainly had a lot to prove coming into this tour. Even though they are still riding the wave of success from 2009′s Crack The Skye and the Jonah Hex EP (both on Warner Bros.) from this past June and year and a half touring cycle. Still, there have been problems of late in the Atlanta bands’ camp. Their ragged tour schedule, uneven performances (they were pretty bad back in April at the NE Metalfest), exhaustion and personal problems led them to cancel most of their summer tour dates this year and had message boards buzzing the whole time.
MASTODON Music from the Motion Picture “Jonah Hex” EP (Reprise/Warner Bros.)
Less than a year ago when MASTODON was approached to contribute to the soundtrack to the “Jonah Hex” movie by director and uber fan Jimmy Hayward (Pixar), the band was riding a humongous wave of creativity and success. Having released their magnum opus Crack The Skye to critical and commercial praise it made sense that a band with four quasi- concept records under their belts would branch out into movie soundtracks someday. In the meantime while the band is on hiatus for the summer while they regroup from a rough few months of touring and illnesses, the fans have this EP to chew over until they hit the road again this fall.
Based on the western-themed DC Comics tale of payback supernatural-style, the tag line of the film and the subtitle of the EP is the fitting “Revenge Gets Ugly”. The music that MASTODON crafted for this occasion is anything but ugly. In fact, many of the themes that were incorporated into the film are dramatic and quite beautiful. “Death March” is heard at the start of the movie and helps build the drama of the scene that sets up the events for the entire film. Starting with a sparse guitar chime in the beginning and ending with a churning stomp, the song is evidence that the band was up to the task of marrying their style to film work, in case there were any doubters. There is some great lead guitar work on this track too. “Clayton Boys” is the villains theme and features some nice textural Bill Kelliher guitar parts until it opens up into a chugging boil in the last minute. Another track, “Indian Theme” starts off with some meditative drums and creepy-sounding harmonized guitar parts that create mystery. The drums incrementally increase every measure and the song lifts off to a metallic charge ending with a dramatic flourish, not unlike most songs on CTS. The secret weapon of the track is Troy Sanders’ fuzzed out, wah-wah heavy bass line that both shines and supports at the same time.
Full of inventive movements and beats this track would be at home on any prior MASTODON release. The best track by far is “Train Assault” which is taken from a scene early in the film. Brent Hinds actually has a cool one-second cameo in this scene and I wonder how much time he spent in a make-up chair to cover up his facial tattoos. Beginning with quietly chugging pedaled tones and some of Brent’s tasty lead work that calls to mind David Gilmour of PINK FLOYD, the song just erupts into a torrent of razor sharp licks and more of Brann Dailor’s crazy poly-rhythmic stick work. I’ve said before that Brann was always great, but has now elevated to star of the band status. His work here is even more evidence to this fact. Director Hayward is said to be a big fan of BLOOD MOUNTAIN and it is no wonder that this track has similar qualities to the songs on that classic work. The track is also heard over the closing credits of the movie as well as alternate longer takes of “Death March” and “Indian Theme” which are also included in the EP. (more…)