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Mastodon released the cover art for their upcoming album The Hunter today, and according to The Daily Blam, the record is set to drop in October – schwing!

The first thing you’ll notice about the cover art is that it’s quite different from Mastodon’s previous four records, which makes sense because it’s by a different artist.  Paul Romano took care of the first four albums, while The Hunter artwork was created by AJ Fosik who also happens to be the band’s set designer/sculptor (whatever the hell that means.  Seriously, what is he sculpting for the band – a new bong?)  Some people are suggesting that the change may be a harbinger of a new musical direction, and I’m sure there will be some sonic differences.  But maybe the change was also made since this new album does not appear to be a part of the band’s “elements” series, wherein each record depicted a different element (ex. Leviathan was water, Blood Mountain was earth, etc.)

Personally, I’m digging the artwork.  Your thoughts?

-Sam

Hear ye, hear ye!

Brand new Mastodon music has hit the web today and you can get it for free, courtesy of Adult Swim.  Score!  Technically it’s not brand-brand-new, as in, it’s not a track off their upcoming album, The Hunter.

But it is music that no one’s ever heard before.  It’s called “Deathbound,” and apparently it was written for Crack the Skye, which surprises me a bit, quite frankly.  The track doesn’t sound anything like the Crack the Skye material, hewing much closer to Blood Mountain territory instead.  Now Blood Mountain is a great record in its own right, but it ain’t CtS, and after hearing this track, I am very thankful that the Masto-dudes decided to cut this one out of their masterpiece.  It’s a pretty good track (though a bit nondescript), but it would not have fit in at all with the expertly crafted ebb and flow of CtS.

In any case, the video is awesome (gotta love Brann as Mr. Rogers!!):

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(P.S. While it has nothing to do with metal or Mastodon, Best Coast is also giving away a free song on Adult Swim that’s pretty good, too.  So check that out as well.)

-Sam

Kylesa has always brought many of the same ingredients to the table that their fellow Georgian metaller brethren, Mastodon and Baroness, have.  And yet, Kylesa has also been perceived, and perhaps rightfully so, as the warmup act to their peers’ headlining material – a good but not great alternative to change things up when you’ve just burned through your tenth copy of Crack the Skye.

But with Kylesa’s fifth album, Spiral Shadow, people are going to be forced to reevaluate their judgments on this band.  I’m not going to come out and say that this surpasses anything their peers have put out, but it is a triumphant declaration that Kylesa deserves more than just second billing.  If their last album, Static Tensions, wasn’t enough to convince you that this band deserves a spot amongst the stoner-metal titans of today (and I would argue that it should have been), then you will at least have a much harder time denying them after giving Spiral Shadow a chance.

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This is pretty frickin’ cool – awesome band guy doing a sweet ad for a hometown eatery.

Now if only its heavy metal exports weren’t the only worthwhile things to come out of Atlanta, maybe I’d want to visit and actually stop by this place.  Alas…

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-Sam

There should be no mistaking that Between The Buried And Me has ascended heavy metal’s mountaintop and claimed a spot as one of the genre’s titans.

They’re less known than the gods in Mastodon and Tool, but they deserve a spot at the progressive metal roundtable nonetheless.

What BtBaM brings to said table is an unflinching brutality that sets them apart from their more mainstream peers.  This makes them a tough but rewarding listen.  They have a new conceptual EP – The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues – out now that is a precursor to a full fledged album due out sometime next year.

It picks up stylistically right where their last album, The Great Misdirect, left off, and it’s a perfect way to keep the band in the spotlight until they unleash what is sure to be another slab of vicious metal.

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Mastodon fans, read and rejoice.  Seriously, how pumped does this make you?

Is there going to be a concept for the record?

Yeah, totally. It’s all worked out. I don’t want to talk about it yet, though. It’s not totally ready, but it’s gonna be cool. I feel like it’s a classic story about redemption. It’s a mythology that’s invented because we care so deeply as human beings for one another, it’s hard to think that you just go into a hole [after you die] and that’s it. So you want to see your loved ones be exalted in some way, or be a part of something that’s much more grandiose.

Do you hold any spiritual beliefs yourself?

I think you go into a hole and that’s pretty much it. It’s depressing, so I don’t want to think of life that way. As much as I try to fool myself that Bigfoot exists and there is a Santa Claus, and when I finally do pass away I’m gonna go somewhere awesome, I can’t do it. There’s just no evidence for it. I think we’re just a bunch of f—in’ animals and we live, then we die. But no one likes to think that way. If that’s your best friend or your mom or your grandmother, you want to think that she’s going to go to this amazing place, and that makes it okay for people, and that’s a big part of why religion exists in the first place. Everything dies and everyone dies and the last thing you want to think is, “Oh, well, it’s just over. There’s just darkness and nothing.” You want to think that Grandma is in a better place, and you say that to yourself to console yourself. And also, for people who are dying, it makes them feel better to think they’re going somewhere else. They rationalize. They go, “Well, that was really good, and I’m ready to go to this great place, so I’m f—in’ set. No problem.”

Full interview here.  I really hope we get to hear this record before the end of the year.

-Sam

On October 17, 2009, Mastodon played a show at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom.  The show was part of their tour in support of Crack of the Skye, and they fittingly played that entire album from start to finish.

But I suppose I should just say up front: If you haven’t heard the recorded version of Crack the Skye, first of all, what the fuck is wrong with you?  Do you hate yourself?  Do you not enjoy eargasmic music?  And secondly, don’t even bother considering this live album without first procuring and then listening to CtS, oh, I don’t know, about a hundred times or until you fall to your knees and weep with exaltation and rapture – whichever comes first.

It’s OK, I’ll wait.

Ok, now that we’re on the same page, let’s talk about what the live disc brings to the table.

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Mastodon just announced that they are hard at work on their follow-up to Crack the Skye.  But in the meantime, they are going to release their first live album.

On March 15th, Live At The Aragon will hit stores.  The CD/DVD contains a recording of the band’s October 19th, 2009 performance at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom.  The DVD portion will have a 58-minute tour film that includes the spaced-out videos that played on the screen behind the band during this tour.  Hopefully, though, it will have much more than just that.   Quite frankly, it would be disappointing if it didn’t.

But I’m psyched to get my paws on this record because I went to the Boston leg of the tour and it was great.  I bet the soundboard recording makes things all that much cleaner.  The band is offering pre-sales for the limited edition version over at their site.

You can peep the trailer below, and after the jump I’ve posted a clip that someone got of the band performing “Crack the Skye” at the Aragon date.  It’s from the side of the stage and it’s got really good sound quality.  The thing that really stands out to me about that performance (and it was true when I saw them in Boston too) is just how well Troy Sanders does when taking over the vocal parts that are sung on the album by Neurosis’ Scott Kelly.  It’s really amazing.

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is this:

Has it really already been almost two years since Mastodon released Crack the Skye? Holy shit!

Well that record was a near universal instant classic among metalheads and it grew the band’s fan base by leaps and bounds.  Not only were they heavy hitters in the metal community, but now people from across the musical spectrum were taking notice and hopping aboard the thunderous riff-mobile.  Hell, CBS uses some of their music now during football games and they were asked to write the score for the Jonah Hex movie.

I have very little fear of Mastodon “selling out” and changing the style of their music.  I do expect some kind of awesome progression, as has become the norm in their album chronology, but I’m not worried about them releasing a steaming pile.  Can they top CtS?  That’s anyone’s guess and a pretty tall order to boot.  But just knowing that they are already at work attempting to do just that makes me all giddy inside.

-Sam

Matt Garfield is just a man with a keytar and a hankering for metal.

He’s also the one-man wrecking crew behind the band Mose Giganticus – handling all the songwriting, lyrics, vocals, drums, and synthesizers himself with a rotating cast of characters backing him up on guitar and bass both live and in the studio – kind of like Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails.

Gift Horse is the band’s major label debut on Relapse Records.  The brand of metal that is put forth on this album is difficult to nail down.  It should be no surprise that a keytarist liberally uses synthesizers and vocoder in his music, but Gift Horse isn’t industrial metal in the vein of, say, The Downward Spiral; nor is it anything like the recent bastardizations of synth in metal like The Devil Wears Prada or Attack Attack! (or any other group of kids wearing neon shirts and sporting girls’ haircuts while banging on a keyboard).

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