Mastodon
Fri April 8
Dante's
1 SW 3rd

"We're in the same boat as our fans," explains Troy Sanders, vocalist and bassist of Mastodon, one of the fastest rising extreme acts on the planet. "It's not like we're on a pedestal. This [growth] has been an absolute whirlwind." In a few short years, the band has gone from stalwart support act for peers High on Fire, Morbid Angel, Clutch, and the Fucking Champs, to guest VJ spots on MTV2 and tours with Slayer, Iron Maiden, and Black Sabbath. When asked if this sudden success has gone to their heads, Sanders plays it cool. "We don't think about it too much. When you start to overanalyze things like that, you lose track of what you're supposed to be doing--which is writing kick ass music."

Ass kicking is not a problem for Atlanta's more-than-metalcore quartet. While most hard rock acts rely on guitars or vocals to carry their monstrous might into the universe, Mastodon is powered by lead drummer Brann Dailor. His beats are unrelenting barrages of syncopated fury that add texture and dynamics to songs, somehow never cluttering or coming off as pure technical wank.

Aside from their undeniable skill and work ethic, the root of Mastodon's success is their ability to utilize all the strengths of heavy metal and hardcore, without falling victim to clichés. The technicality of Dailor's drumming is tempered by riffs you can hum all day long. The vocals are heavy without gravitating towards operatic styles of the past or more modern death growls. Even the lyrics, often an afterthought in heavy music, are focused on monsters of mythology and Melville rather than Satanism or politics. The band's latest Relapse effort, Leviathon, is a concept album based on Moby Dick while their debut disc dedicated songs to "Ol' Nessie" and the "Elephant Man." Concerned parents won't find much cause to confiscate, and will probably end up seeing Mastodon at the next Ozzfest anyway.

Now that the big-time is calling, the question is how Mastodon will greet the evils of the industry. "Everyone is really content and extremely happy doing exactly what we're doing now," says Sanders. "We've gained a loyal following and we want to keep that. So we're not intentionally trying to change anything." And what unattained goal could the band possibly still have? "We're gonna take over the world."