Monday, November 28, 2011

Mastodon - Dillinger Escape Plan - Red Fang -- Nov 27 2011

Red Fang - A Mastodon tour seems to always have high quality and interesting opening bands (Kylesa last time) and this tour is no exception. I did see Red Fang on a huge bill of interesting metal acts that Helmet headlined and was impressed with their style. They employ the same jamming grind it out mid-tempo techniques that Kyuss successfully did (and does). They have two guitars that thicken things out and two lead vocalists that have a heavy laid back crooning rock style on one hand, with a deep dark intense voice on the other. The tempos vary a bit but never get anything near speed metal or overly sludgy on the slow end. They are from Portland, Oregon and do seem to employ some left coast moves both from the metal out there (Kyuss, Alice in Chaines, et al) as well as a strong indie spirit that seems to be a part of every band from Portland. The grooves are infectious and the 35 minute set smoothly goes by, enjoyed by the crowd which is no doubt on the smart side considering this headliner.

Dillinger Escape Plan - It is no surprise to note that this band initially evolved from a hardcore band. While they have gone through a lot of members, the general hardcore sound is still quite prevalent along with loads of metal and intricate an extreme progressive feel to many of the songs. This is a well oiled sonic assault. They manage to stay on track with their intense playing even when they seem off the rails. The energy is great and they climb and jump on amps as good as anyone you will see, while not missing a beat. Maybe the only complaint for me is the unrelenting intensity is a bit hard to take even in a 40 minute set (I had a similar problem with the Melvins who wore me out after 70 minutes). But they had an admirable sound and energy taking me back to my younger days of seeing COC or Raw Power. This band can pack 'em in on their own tours, but it's great to see them here bringing three distinct voices to this tour.
Mastodon - I was excited to see this show as I was highly impressed with their latest album. Like Opeth, this band continues to evolve and explore more progressive elements of metal. Unlike Opeth, they did not do quite the extreme makeover for this album and tour. It would not surprise me if that is yet to come as they have not been at this as long, but for now it is still the Mastodon that smart metal fans know and love. They are vocally tough and direct with even more hints at tunefulness. Musically, they are brilliant the way they all lock in and create such interesting sounds while keeping accessible crunching, speedy rock music at the core. The sold out crowd was into it the whole 90 minutes or thereabouts. They remained revved up as much for the closer as they did at the open. I give the band major credit for handling the sound system so well tonight. So many bands just pump the volume, but Mastodon created loud music that was clear and right on the edge of where it ought to be. Nothing pulsed up or fuzzed out like I hear so many times with bands that think volume is all when you have a PA like this one. The encore was fun with the other bands joining the stage to sing along. No surprise there as like I said earlier, a Mastodon tour has sharp original bands that work well together in presenting an outstanding bill. I'll be back for the next installment.

Honor of the week: I was again asked by The Deli to nominate the best 'breakout bands' in the DC/Baltimore area. This site does a great job covering several local scenes and I encourage everyone to check out their work and vote for your favorite break-out band when they post the poll (I am guessing next week some time).

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