Greatest Hits Live
Metal heroes Mastodon do not need to release a “greatest hits” album. All you need to know about the Georgian four-piece is contained within their latest release, the Live at Brixton DVD. Recorded in February 2012 in London, Live at Brixton spans their entire catalog in 23 songs (plus one extended guitar solo). While some artists use live performance to expand upon their studio efforts, Mastodon shows instead that their impressive recordings are not the result of mixboard magic; this DVD is evidence that their talent is legitimate.
The DVD starts inauspiciously with “Dry Bone Valley” from 2011’s The Hunter. No big introduction, no title sequence– just the stage and the music. We learn right away that drummer/singer Brann Dailor can do it all at the same time. The vocal switching between him and bassist Troy Sanders is seamless, and they never appear distracted or struggling note: bass and drums are the hardest instruments to play while singing, excluding brass and woodwinds, of course). As fans of Mastodon know, the music is intense, rough and raw, so pulling these feats off live is no easy task. Live then goes in to the lead track from Hunter, “Black Tongue” with no break or pause.
Mastodon reaches back to their 2002 debut, Remission, with “March of the Fire Ants.” A few songs from their breakthrough LP, 2004’s Leviathan, also appear, including “I Am Ahab” and “Megalodon.” The set ends with “Creature Lives” from that ever-impressive The Hunter. The entire set is designed to remind everyone why Mastodon is as respected and revered as they are: their blend of thrash, grunge, prog and extreme metal has no equal.
The problem with Live at Brixton is that there is little reason to watch the performances. They do not veer from the album style, and they do not interact with the audience. They do not move from their assigned positions, and there is no stage show save some spotlights waving around. Plus, the camera work does nothing to prove what excitement the audience may be feeling. This is a great collection of songs from one of metal’s modern-day pioneers, but it does little to entice one to buy a ticket to a Mastodon concert.