Mastodon / The Inbreds
25 October 2004
The Garage, London

The Mean Fiddler website has an annoying habit of often not advertising who is supporting at Garage gigs, hence I only found out a couple of hours ahead of tonight`s show that The Inbreds were on the bill. By the time we got into the venue the band was already playing to a packed, captive audience of Mastodon fans.

The first full song I heard, Webbed Feet and Moonshine, was not only a great title for a song, but also a fine doomy anthem with sorrowful sounding guitars, which broke out into a gallop towards the songs climax. This song contained most of The Inbreds ingredients, being doom mixed with trad metal with a dollop of Entombed grind`n`roll.

With three guitars the band doesn`t go for the subtle approach on the likes of Mutiny On The Mind, where chugging riffs collide with Maiden-esque harmonies.

At times the band possess a raw edge, similar to Superjoint Ritual, and the main reason for this was the punky vocals of Joe Smith. Smith`s between song, seemingly drunk, rantings had done a good job in alienating a good portion of the crowd. Attitude isn`t a bad thing, but I must confess to finding his rambling quite annoying and tiresome.

As Allah`s War closes the set the band are met by a three way split of applause, typical support band indifference and raised middle fingers. Myself? Well based on the band`s strong performance I fell into the former category, though I think Smith`s enthusiasm could do with reigning in somewhat.

Mastodon have just finished a European tour with Slayer & Slipknot which has seen them opening the show with a four song 20minute set. They noted that there was no way they were going to get on a plane back to the USA without doing one of their own shows and it must have been a treat for them, let alone the packed Garage, to be able to run through a full 14 song set tonight.

You have to be confident to start your set with you 13minute epic, yet that`s exactly what Mastodon do tonight. Hearts Alive made for a surprising opener, but as the gently waves of guitars and drums built towards the grandiose peak of the song, it actual made perfect sense as an introduction to what would follow.

I Am Ahab really kicks things off, with stage front turning into a mass of moving bodies. The ferocious Crusher Destroyer doing nothing to abate the mayhem. Meanwhile, on stage, Mastodon are doing their best to destroy their chosen instruments and none more so than Brann Dailor. Dailor`s incredible octopus-like use of his kit causes him to dispatch drumsticks at an alarming rate. Calls from the crowd for a drum solo, during a short break for a technical problem, are met with "Do you want to kill him?".

Megalodon`s short countrified interlude sees Troy Sanders mimicking a fiddle player before the crashing thrash metal riffing burst forward whipping up more fury. Too much for one young idiot who decides to take on a security guard stood next to me who wouldn`t let him stick his head out the fire exit to get some air. The resulting fracas seeing him and his two mates ejected after only five songs.

The vocals are traded between Troy Sanders and Brent Hinds, with both seemingly possessing a similar range, from ferocious bellowing to mantra like clean vocals. They also trade the song introductions and comments, coming over like a comedy double act at times.

The "White whale, holy grail" refrain of Blood & Thunder is punctuated by a sea of fists with the sweet guitar harmonies between Hinds and Kelliher teased out with full on metal posing. Following which the band neatly fuse together Where Strides The Behemoth with Mother Puncher. Sanders, looking like a man possessed, pointing at Hinds during the former whilst bellowing "The priest stands to our right".

Obviously inspired by their time with Slayer, prior to Hail To Fire from the Lifesblood EP, Sanders asks menacingly "Do You Wanna Die?", and when met with cheers of "YES!", he comically retorts, "Well I guess we won`t see you next time then!".

A combined one-two punch of Iron Tusk and March Of The Fire Ants closes the main set. Returning for an encore, we are treated to two covers, Thin Lizzy`s Emerald followed by The Melvins` The Bit. Prior to the latter Hinds explains he has the flu and that the next song will positively be the last one of the night. However, considering the brutal performance there was little evidence of Hind`s suffering.

Mastodon are currently being hailed as the next big thing by all of the UK`s metal press, which is no surprise on hearing latest opus Leviathan and based on tonight`s show, it is certainly not a case of the emperor`s new clothes.

Mastodon set list:
Hearts Alive / I Am Ahab / Crusher Destroyer / Workhorse / Megalodon / Island / Seabeast / Blood & Thunder / Where Strides The Behemoth / Mother Puncher / Aqua Dementia / Hail To Fire / Iron Tusk / March Of The Fire Ants / Emerald / The Bit

The Inbreds