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Monday, November 2, 2009

Rockin' Out: Mastodon/Converge @ Hammerstein Ballroom 10/30/09


More terrible Blackberry camera pictures to go along with a fantastic show.

I've seen both Mastodon and Converge live multiple times (and once before on the same bill), so I knew that I was in a for a good evening of live metal music. High On Fire was opening the show, but their 6:30pm start time interfered with pre-show drink and food plans and Dethklok was the headliner, but to quote a guy I overheard talking to his buddy in the bathroom line "I can watch cartoons at home.", so this show was all about the meat in the middle of the sandwich if you will.

Converge's live performances, not unlike their recorded albums, are a chaotic mess...in the most beautiful way possible. Singer Jacob Bannon's unintelligible vocal style would be dismissed by non-metalheads as simple screaming, but for those of us who appreciate harsher vocal styles, he is one of the premiere singers in the metal world. There is such passion and fury behind not only his vocal style, but the playing of guitarist Kurt Ballou, bassist Nate Newton and drummer Ben Koller as well that it is hard not to pump your fist in the air and bang your head when they bulldoze through their sets. Underneath all the noise and chaos is very intelligent songwriting, playing, melodies and grooves. It was also cool to hear songs from Converge's recently released opus Axe To Fall (which will definitely be in my Top 5 albums of the year). That album has a healthy amount of guest musicians, but they still pulled the songs off as a four piece with ease and lost none of the recorded versions power and fury.

Mastodon's new album Crack The Skye has been growing on me more and more as the year goes on. Not that I didn't like it at first, but it did take me a little time to warm up to it. Good thing because the band opened up their set by playing the album in it's entirety complete with a screen showing a "movie" behind them to accompany the songs. [My friend and I were discussing whether they pulled old movie clips or whether the band had had this stuff filmed specifically for them. I could probably Google that and answer my own question, but ultimately I don't really care that much. It looked cool and that is what matters.] But what's more important than a fancy stage set is good songs played well live and Mastodon delivers in spades. Mastodon has been getting a larger and more expansive audience over the course of their four albums and seeing them on a larger stage with a more sophisticated sound and light show, it is really easy to understand why. It is cool to see a band that is rooted in extreme metal have the mainstream starting to come to them (not in droves, but hey, you gotta convert one person at a time). The cherry on the top of the metal sundae was that they closed with a cover of "Emerald" by Thin Lizzy with Nate Newton from Converge on vocals.

Converge "No Heroes"



Converge "The Broken Vow"



Mastodon "Oblivion"



Mastodon "Divinations"

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