Written By Braddon S. Williams

Mastodon: Crack The Sky

Mastodon took their progressive, psychedelic, thought-provoking, genre exploding sound to uncharted heights with 2009’s majestic Crack The Skye. This was their first album to feature drummer Brann Dailor as the third lead vocalist, along with bassist Troy Sanders and lead guitarist Brent Hinds.

Having 3 distinctive singers (4, counting Scott Kelly from Neurosis, who contributed lead vocals on the haunting title song) opened up sonic possibilities that the Georgia based Mastodon capitalized on with a vengeance.

With non-singing guitarist Bill Kelliher rounding out the rich toned palette of Crack The Skye, a modern metal masterpiece was forged, and Mastodon continued their rise into the heights of “thinking man’s metal.”

One look at the striking cover art and the listener knows they are in for a thrilling experience. From the opening Oblivion, through stops to check out Divinations, The Czar, Ghost Of Karelia, and on to the closing The Last Baron, Mastodon’s Crack The Skye is an album that reveals more depth with each successive listen.


Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Mastodon first gained my attention on the same night that I discovered Lamb Of God, as part of the short lived second edition of MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball. I witnessed them simply take over the second stage a few years later at Ozzfest and have been a gigantic fan ever since. Their magnificent Emperor Of Sand album (2017) is an uncompromising and unflinching look at a desert wanderer’s ordeal with cancer. Several members of Mastodon had various loved ones and family directly affected by cancer, and the songs deal with death, survival, and run the gamut of emotions. I draw inspiration from this, having lost my father and other dear friends to the deadly disease. As with all Mastodon albums, the playing and singing are masterfully executed, with 3 lead vocalists weaving in and out of various songs. My favorite tracks are Jaguar God, Scorpion Breath, Ancient Kingdom, Steambreather, and Word To The Wise. This is progressive metal at its finest, music that challenges and rewards the listener with each successive playing.

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

On this date in history, 8/13/2008, the inaugural edition of the Mayhem Festival arrived at Deer Creek In Noblesville just in time to fill the void left by the dearly departed Ozzfest, which had ceased to be a touring fest after the free show the previous year.

Mayhems’ first lineup featured Slipknot, Disturbed, Dragonforce, Mastodon, Machine Head, Airbourne, Five Finger Death Punch, Walls Of Jericho, Dead Broke, Underoath, 36 Crazyfists, The Red Chord, Black Tide, and Suicide Silence.

I always love finding a band I’ve never heard before and getting to witness a set that makes me a fan. Such was the case with Suicide Silence…they just took that stage and OWNED IT…just an absolutely crushing set of brutality, insane energy, and pure confidence.

The Red Chord made me a fan, too. I didn’t get to see much of their set because I was in the process of meeting Machine Head when they were on stage, but as I was talking to Rob Flynn, he suddenly jumped up on a chair and told me to check out an event that was taking place during The Red Chord’s set.

They did a “Wall Of Death” that was utterly crazy…first time I had ever seen one of those. Rob Flynn, who has most likely seen everything that metal has to offer, took the time to make sure I got to see it, and I glanced over at him and marveled at the gleam in his eyes and the huge grin on his face and realized that he is just as much a fan of our beloved metal music as I am. Needless to say, my love of Machine Head grew 3 sizes that day, much like the Grinch’s heart in the Dr. Seuss fable.

A few quick words about Walls Of Jericho before I get back to the mighty Machine Head…they were so amazing! Candace Kucsulain, the ginger headed female lead singer of the metalcore band, was literally like the Tasmanian Devil, exhorting the metal masses to start circle pits, crowd surf, and just jump up and down and scream their heads off. She knows how to get a crowd into it, and her band used that skill set to great advantage.

I put them right up there with Suicide Silence on the intensity Richter Scale! Machine Head were the final band on the second stage, and they were phenomenal. Flynn’s vocals were just massive and perfect, and the band were tighter than anything this side of Megadeth…just a fine tuned killing machine, I mean Machine Fucking Head!

Mastodon began the proceedings on the main stage and brought their own precision to their unique brand of progressive metal. Brann Dailor is one of the best drummers in metal, perhaps in all of rock music, and his playing is the perfect style for the band’s ever shifting canvas of complex riffs.

I’m not a fan of Dragonforce (although I have to acknowledge that their guitar players are extremely gifted players…the vocals and rehashed Iron Maiden ripoff rhythm patterns by the drummer and bass player just ruin it for me), and I actively dislike Disturbed, so I took a break during their sets and gathered energy for the storm that is Slipknot.

The 9 finished the virginal edition of Mayhem with a colossal show that the Iowa bred madmen have perfected over the course of their long career…everything louder, brighter, faster, and crazier than everything else…and that’s a good way to close out a show that had just begun a great 8 year run!

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic


On This Date in History


Emperor of Sand (Reprise)
On a playlist with: Baroness, Crowbar, Devin Townshend Project
Listen “Sultan’s Curse” (here)

I’ll admit that I’ve never been a raging Mastodon fan, but every album they put out always has at least a few songs on it that I can jam to. For example, “Blood and Thunder” will always have a special place in my heart because of the clown pit in the music video (and because I murdered gnomes to it back in my World of Warcraft days), and “Divinations” is a killer song too. This time around, Mastodon slightly broke away from their normal mold of music and the results are something that should please any fan of the band new or old, even if the record itself isn’t quite perfect.



Body Count
Bloodlust (Century Media)
On a playlist with: Hatebreed, Suicidal Tendencies, Biohazard
Listen “No Lives Matter” (here)

If political hardcore music isn’t your thing, then you should stay far, far away from this album. However, if you’re not a sheltered fuckhead who can handle a message about the shitty state of our country, then this album will be quite the fun listen. Ice-T’s lyrics here center around the themes of racism, police brutality, class warfare and the like as the always have. Although it’s shitty that he’s been making music about these things for more than twenty years, this album is easily the band’s best in quite some time.


Woe to the Vanquished (Napalm)
On a playlist with: Havok, Slayer, Exodus
Listen Full album stream (here) Review (here)

The fifth album from the Los Angeles thrash outfit is much more refined than their previous effort, IV: Empires Collapse. This album cuts out all the bullshit and gets straight to the point, which is to whip your ears into a maniacal frenzy of double kicks, fast riffs and shouted vocals. As our very own Maximus put it, “in an era of overly-serious and excessively-performed metal music, Warbringer are one of the most refreshing bands we have.”


demonhunteroutlive1-150x150Demon Hunter
Outlive (Solid State)
On a playlist with: Killswitch Engage, Trivium, All That Remains
Listen “Cold Winter Sun” (here)

Everyone needs a little bit of metalcore in their life, right? Now if you’re one of the few people who didn’t just skip to the next album after reading the word metalcore, then props to you for being a trooper. Although I wouldn’t really call myself a Demon Hunter fan, they’ve never really put out a bad album and considering this one is their eighth, that’s quite the achievement. I do have to say though, I’m not really sure what was going through their heads when the line “We are come undone” was written.


diabolicalmessiah-150x150Diabolical Messiah
Weapons Against the Sacred (Dark Descent)
On a playlist with: Death, Behemoth, Belphegor
Listen “Unmerciful Campaign of Hate” (here)

How great is that album artwork? Nothing says Satan quite like rampaging demons murdering angels with huge tits. On the likely chance that you’ve never heard of Diabolical Messiah, they’re a Chilean blackened death metal act who last released an album in 2010 called Satan Tottendemon Victory!!! (yes, with three exclamation points). Weapons Against the Sacred has the recording quality that black metal elitists will love and the death metal heaviness to bury the weak-minded who stumble upon it.


The Elysian Fields Adelain (Vinyl) (Nuclear War Now) listen
Agatus The Eternalist (Hell’s Headbangers) listen
Autopsy Severed Survival (Picture Disc) (Peaceville) listen
Astral Doors Black Eyed Children (Metalville) listen
BackWordz Veracity (Stay Sick Recordings) listen
Bereft Lands (Prosthetic) listen
Bestial Warlust Blood & Valour (Hell’s Headbangers) listen
Bolt Thrower Realm Of Chaos (Full Dynamic Range) (Vinyl) (Earache Records) listen
Chevelle Wonder What’s Next (Vinyl) (srcvinyl) listen
Darkthrone A Blaze In The Northern Sky (Picture Disc) (Peaceville) listen
Darkthrone Dark Thrones And Black Flags (Peaceville) listen
Darkthrone The Underground Resistance (Peaceville) listen
Death Human (Remastered Reissue) (Vinyl) (Relapse) listen
Falls Of Rauros Vigilance Perennial (Bindrune/Nordvis) listen
Gruesome Fragments Of Psyche (Relapse) listen
Imminence This Is Goodbye (SharpTone Records) listen
Invidia As The Sun Sleeps (SPV) listen
Nightrage The Venomous (Despotz Records) listen
One Last Shot The Death Of A Poet & All Of His Friends (N/A) listen
Saturn Beyond Spectra (Rise Above) listen
Sinner Tequila Suicide (AFM) listen
The Artificials Heart (Tragic Hero Records) listen
The Moth Gatherer The Comfortable Low (Agonia Records) listen
The Royal Seven (Long Branch) listen
Troubled Horse Revolution on Repeat (Rise Above) listen
Windswept The Great Cold Steppe (Season Of Mist) listen

The New Music That Comes Out Today March 31, 2017