One of the most high profile metal tours of 2014 so far rolled through The Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts last night and good lord, was it one for the annals.
Norway's resident party starters Kvelertak opened the evening in grand fashion. After the first time I saw them last November with High on Fire, I got really into them, so I was really excited to get see them again now that I am a fan of their music. Just like the first time I saw them, they put on an excellent show. It may seem odd given the style of music they play, but Kvelertak never fails to bring a huge smile to my face. Their songs are loaded with old-school rock'n'roll flair, punk energy and black metal bite. The combination of the three makes them unique as hell and an absolute force to be reckoned with in a live setting. Aside from playing great music, their stage presence is immense. They command the room and go batshit crazy every second they're on stage. Kvelertak is without a doubt the most fun you'll ever have seeing an extreme metal band live.
Gojira, France's crown jewel of heavy metal, was up next. I had been waiting to see Gojira for years now, so this was honestly a dream come true. The previous two times I had tickets to see them (headlining in August 2012 and opening for Slayer November 2013), my rides fell through and I wasn't able to attend either show. I can gladly say that Gojira's performance was so outstanding that it eliminated the disappointment of my prior failed attempts to see them. There are few bands that I've seen that are as much of a crushing powerhouse as Gojira. Every single song hit like a fucking freight train live. "Backbone", "The Heaviest Matter of the Universe" and "Flying Whales" in particular were every bit as neck-breaking as I expected them to be and caused me to headbang to the point where I wouldn't have been surprised if I my neck broke. Beneath all the crushing riffs, the most impressive aspect of Gojira is the drumming. Mario Duplantier's use of fills and blast beats are insane and don't get nearly enough attention because of just how heavy and memorable Gojira's music is. Duplantier's drumming is just as vital as the guitarwork and powerful vocals from his brother Joe to the success of Gojira as a band. God bless these beautiful French bastards and I really hope I don't get shut out from seeing them live ever again.
After an over half-hour wait, Mastodon finally took the stage. In my experience, the best time to see them live is in between albums-which is the current situation as their new record comes out on June 24th- or right at the start of the touring cycle for a new album. Last night was no exception. Mastodon pulled out some rarely-played gems from their first three records for this tour to bring overwhelming joy to fanboys like myself. I honestly never expected them to dust off songs like "Hearts Alive", "Naked Burn", "Siberian Divide" and "Crusher Destroyer" for this tour, but I am so glad that they did. Remission, Leviathan and Blood Mountain were the records that made me fall in love with Mastodon's music and are three of my all-time favorite records. Seeing songs from these records played live brings out a lot of fond memories past and present. As the years goes on and Mastodon's music has gotten noticeably less extreme, I'm glad they still honor their roots live. The punch of their earlier, heavier material was balanced out nicely by the more progressive material from their past two records Crack the Skye and The Hunter. The newer stuff served as a nice breather from the relentless attack of the older material. It seems they learned from the mistakes of their past few tours where they saturated the set with material from The Hunter. This set was perfectly split between older and newer material and served as a nice retrospective of Mastodon's career thus far. In addition to putting together a killer setlist, the whole band sounded great musically. Troy Sanders was spot-on vocally per usual and Brent Hinds- despite fumbling on a few clean sung parts here and there-was pretty damn good as well. Instrumentally, they were flawless and as always, I was especially enthralled with Brann Dailor's drumming. How that dude manages to hit all his drum parts live is legitimately mind-blowing. There's a lot of excellent drummers in metal, but none is as dynamic or skilled as Dailor. Out of the seven times I've seen Mastodon, this was definitely in the top-tier. Just like the last time I saw them headline with Dillinger Escape Plan and Red Fang in 2012, this was one of the best shows I've ever been to.
3/14 Dropkick Murphys
4/10 At the Gates/Converge