February 10th, 2007
No other state in the country screams Disaffected Suburban Youth louder than New Jersey and no other sound defines it like Heavy Fucking Metal. On Saturday night the kids were all right and Jersey was the epicenter of the Metal Universe. You could see it in their faces. They lived for this shit. Somewhere in the nether regions of industrial Sayreville, arguably the best metal band on the planet circa 2007 rocked like Heaven was Hell, and Hell Ain’t No Bad Place To Be.
The drive down from NYC was a mix of Grey Goose, the Jersey Turnpike, and shit loads of really loud thrashing, courtesy of Mastodon’s Blood Mountain and Leviathan.
Someone turn that shit up.
The Strarland Ballroom looked like a post office, and what better place for a night of chaos and confusion. A mote set up to keep the Metal Kids in and the Townies out surrounded the parking lot. Reminiscent of the old Hollywood Sportatorium in South Florida where, at a 1986 Yes concert, a car drove straight into the water while a bunch of drunk rednecks pissed in it.
Everybody had a laugh.
Tonight was different. Jersey was cold, and people were about to get very serious about their Metal. This was no laughing matter.
As we made our win in, some poor kid was making his way out with a few broken ribs. The bouncer gave me the once over, and said something like “That smells like some good shit.” I didn’t tell him I hadn’t smoked Cannabis in 15 years. Either way, I was ready for some Serious Metal Action.
Missing the opening band is a good thing when you are 37. Just enough time to hit the bar and get settled. The Bud drafts were sour, so we sent them back. The barkeep looked surprised, but must have realized we were pros, and quickly set us up with a few icy longnecks.
Not long after, Atlanta’s finest took the stage without fanfare and launched into a mind-bendingly brilliant riff fest that showed the band for what they are: Heavy Metal Immortals. Simply put, these guys kick so much ass it’s actually scary to watch. Yes, they are technically superior to you and me, and could probably outplay everybody anywhere on any given night, but that only gets us so far.
You see, it’s the Sincerity that the youngsters dig these days. There’s so much over-hyped bullshit out there, any shred of substance goes a long way. Mastodon is not only sincere, but they believe in their riffs, which is all metal fans really ask for anyway.
Interweaving guitar salvos a-la Crimson that are meaty and melodic are the building blocks of The Mastodon Mountain Of Sound. Add some battery acid and a Sasquatch and you have the essence of The Only Metal Band That Matters (sorry Slayer).
They killed their set straight through. No “Thank You Cleveland” or “You Guys Suck.” Just sludge and fury. What was the name of that song again? It doesn’t matter. Music like this has no name.
Mastodon’s intensity is Fucking Intense, and a full hour and a half of this stuff was all anybody, or the band, could possibly handle. One encore and off, Mastodon disappeared into the cold Jersey night. The kids were satisfied. It was pronounced Good.
D. Boon said God Bows To Math. He most certainly bows to Math Metal and Mastodon is Math Metal in the most extreme. But that doesn’t mean they can be computed or calculated. Just like Math, Mastodon is the supreme and most beautiful personification of Science & Spirituality. All was in perfect harmony on Saturday night in Sayreville. Math Metal reined and God most willingly bowed to Mastodon.
D. Boon would have dug it.
Artwork by Paul Romano