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Mastodon Simply Rock On New Live at Brixton Digital-Only Concert Video

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dvd_is_dead1Now that the compact disc is gasping its final breath in a shallow grave, what shall we kill next in our quest for less physical media and more cloud-friendly files of shtuff?

Why, the DVD, of course!

And our fave prog-metal juggernaut, Mastodon, are happily contributing to the DVD’s demise with Mastodon Live at Brixton, a new, digital-only concert video filmed at a February 2012 performance on The Hunter world tour.

I have mixed feelings about digital-only video releases – on one hand: kudos, why pollute the world with any more physical media to clutter our already-packed lives? On the other hand: we must remember that the DVD is a much different animal than the CD; at its best there are ample graphics/menus/bonus material/behind-the-scenes footage/etc… if we eradicate the possibility for all the extras, we are taking away the very essence of what has always made DVDs so exciting.

But let’s discuss this latest entry to the Masto-empire given the context of what this release is – a straightforward, well-shot and edited video of a concert. No frills, no extras – just rock.

Unsurprisingly, watching this video is a lot like being at a Mastodon show – the band doesn’t talk in between songs, instead opting to barrel straight through tons of new and old gems.  And these guys sculpt diverse set lists very well, usually starting with some of the newest material, then early in the set going back a couple albums, then even further. And at this point in the band’s career, five albums deep, Mastodon have the luxury of reaching far and wide within their catalog in order to satisfy fans old and new. It’s nice to hear this diverse range represented live: classics from Remission and Leviathan, as well as mid-era crushers from Blood Mountain and more recent jams off of Crack the Skye and their latest album, The Hunter.

So you could say there’s something in it for every Mastodon fan, right? Well, yes, but any true Mastodon fan that has seen the band live knows that the songs selected here (see tracklist below) are the same ones they’ve been playing throughout the last few tour cycles. Are we ever going to hear some rare tracks from the band’s first few albums, or are those songs stage-dead? Clearly Mastodon know showmanship, and therefore the band will play their most popular songs from each album to satisfy a hungry crowd, but at a certain point this doesn’t do much for the superfans in the house.  Which raises a beautiful conundrum as to whether or not the boys should change up the older tunes in any given set list in lieu of recycling the same (albeit awesome) songs we’ve heard for so many years. My kingdom for some deeper cuts we haven’t heard live in ages!

So then of course we must talk about the band’s actual performance during this show. As per usual, drummer Brann Dailor is the massive anchor that keeps this train a-rollin’ — his chops are astounding every time. Not that the other guys don’t hit their marks accordingly – the guitar and bass playing is (for the most part) spot-on. But, as has been hotly debated for some time now, there are some truly questionable vocal moments. Brent Hinds is one of the best guitar players on the scene today, but his lazy delivery of melodic vocals makes several parts sound half-assed and/or off-pitch. Even some of Troy Saunders’ singing sounds a little iffy at times on this release. Do they get passes due to the intricate nature of their guitar parts? Tough call, but a few of the roughest vocal moments (the choruses of “All the Heavy Lifting,” for example, are especially painful) have me unfortunately thinking “no.”

On the whole, this is a solid concert video and a no-brainer product for Team Mastodon: easy to market, well-filmed and no physical media to risk losing money on – I’m not sure why more bands don’t opt for the digital-only live concert video route.  I suspect soon enough we will see many more such videos flooding the marketplace.

TRACKLIST:

Dry Bone Valley
Black Tongue
Crystal Skull
I Am Ahab
Capillarian Crest
Colony of Birchmen
Megalodon
Thickening
Blasteroid
Sleeping Giant
Ghost of Karelia
All The Heavy Lifting
Spectrelight
Curl of the Burl
Bedazzled Fingernails
Circle of Cysquatch
Aqua Dementia
Crack The Skye
Where Strides The Behemoth
Iron Tusk
March of the Fireants
Blood and Thunder
Creature Lives

Mastodon’s Mastodon Live at Brixton comes out Tuesday, December 10. Pre-order it here.

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