It was an evening of complex metal at Metropolis last night, as 3 bands played to a near sold out crowd. The evening started with Norway’s Kvelertak, who I unfortunately missed because there was a problem with my media pass. By the time it got fixed, their performance was over but I was just in time to catch the middle act on the bill, Gojira.
The french band was warmly welcomed by the crowd as they launched into “Ocean Planet”. Their highly technical metal was flawlessly executed, with their machine gun-like riffs often punctuated by strobe lights. Singer/guitarist Joe Duplantier used the opportunity to address the crowd in French, mentioning how they were fans of both Kvelertak and Mastodon, and how this tour was “an artistic triumph for them”. Their 45 minute set covered 4 of their 5 albums, with the best moment coming from the title track of their latest “L’Enfant Sauvage”. The floor had an energetic mosh pit going on the entire time as the band navigated effortlessly through their complex songs. They were well supported by a balanced sound that allowed the nuances of their music to be heard. Before leaving the stage, the band mentioned they’d be going straight into the studio after the tour, to the delight of the crowd, and would be back next year for a headlining tour. Drummer Mario Duplantier showed off his knowledge of local culture by grabbing the mic for a quick “tabarnak” before leaving the stage. I hope he at least tried a poutine too.
Then came the main attraction, Atlanta metallers Mastodon. They opened with “Tread Lightly” and the title track from their latest album “Once More ‘Round the Sun”, and this set the tone of their performance as no less than 8 songs from their latest were played during their set. Whatever frustration you can find on the Internet regarding the more melodic approach of their latest albums, it wasn’t shared by the fans in attendance last night: every song got resounding cheers.
The band offered a solid performance that made the intricate material seem easy. Their on stage dynamic is a little peculiar, as the lead vocals are shared between drummer Brann Dailor, bassist Troy Sanders and guitarist Brent Hinds, with only Sanders really having an active stage presence. It also took a least an hour before they addressed the crowd; before that the songs flowed one into another without any wasted time. In fact, the 18 songs played unfolded over about only 90 minutes!
Compared to most metal bands, where machine-like precision is the norm (and it certainly was for Gojira), Mastodon stands out with its groove based riffs. There’s a swagger to their sound that’s a big part of their appeal I think, but that’s not to say that they weren’t precise: they were tight but never mechanical. They’re a really good live band.
My one complaint about the show is that the sound was a little too loud. Now don’t get me wrong, I like my metal loud as much as the next guy, but when it gets to the point that the intricacies of the music (and there are plenty of those in Mastodon’s music) get blurred, I think it’s time to pull back a little. (And Gojira was loud but clear so it can be done) This is unfortunately a common occurrence at Metropolis, and it’s a shame that one of Montreal’s marquee venues suffers from substandard sound too often. Still, it was a great night of metal for all the faithful in attendance.
Once More ’Round the Sun
Chimes at Midnight
Blood and Thunder
The Heaviest Matter of the Universe
Toxic Garbage Island