Mastodon brings the mosh pit to Ace of Spades

The decibel level at Ace of Spades was raised to an ear-splitting high as prog-metal band Mastodon took the stage Wednesday, along with guests The Dillinger Escape Plan and Red Fang.

A sea of shaggy-haired metal heads packed the small venue to the brim, and the smell of spilled beer and old leather permeated the crowd.

Portland-based band Red Fang took the stage first, to an astonishing large following despite only recently debuting in the music scene two years ago. The band delivered an impressive set, with a heavy sludge metal sound reminiscent of The Melvins mixed with the bluesy riffs of Kyuss.

The band got the crowd energized immediately upon opening, headbanging between growled vocals and riff-heavy breakdowns. Red Fang is also scheduled to play the Blue Lamp on Dec. 8, which, after seeing them live, promises to be just as intense. Find out all of their tour dates and newest releases at http://www.redfang.net/.

As the lights dimmed for mathcore outfit The Dillinger Escape Plan, the crowd swelled as people made their way to the front to form a sizable mosh pit. With their complex rhythms and constant tempo switches, it was hard to follow the band’s songs, which they made up for with a spastic stage presence.

To call their performance “wild” would be an understatement, as guitarists Ben Weinman and Jeff Tuttle sprang across the stage and stood atop their amp heads. The only time either guitarist stopped moving was to play a complicated solo, only to return to thrashing back and forth. Vocalist Greg Puciato growled guttural lyrics into the microphone while simultaneously climbing into the pit and crowdsurfing.

Toward the end of the set, the stage became part of the audience as Puciato hoisted a cymbal into the air, passed a guitar into the crowd and threw drumsticks across the stage. As the band cleared the stage, I noticed a lone drumstick that had become stuck in one of the beams above the crowd. Their stage presence was definitely something that would be hard to match. The Dillinger Escape Plan will continue to support Mastodon along with Red Fang through December. Find their tour dates at  http://www.dillingerescapeplan.org/content/events.

However, as the lights dimmed for Mastodon, it was clear who the majority of the attendees came to see. Before the band made it to the stage, the crowd chanted and cheered "Mas-to-don!" and threw up the metal horns hand sign popularized by Ronnie James Dio.

As the first booming chord echoed from the stage, a simple backdrop lit up to display a psychedelic compilation of images mixed with deep red stage lights.

The band performed a flawless set, playing songs from each of their releases, including “Bedazzled Fingernails” off their newest record, “The Hunter.” During their 2007 single “Colony of Birchmen,” the band evoked a sing-along across the venue, with the crowd screaming the doom-laced lyrics, "Run! With! Death!" with outstretched fists.

The band’s albums have been critically acclaimed over the years for their complex yet accessible sound, but their live performances are just as heavy, if not heavier.

There is no doubt in my mind that after Wednesday night’s show, Mastodon not only solidified their place as metal giants, but they showed Sacramento they are still in their prime for many years to come.

Mastodon will continue to tour the with The Dillinger Escape Plan and Red Fang through December before embarking on massive tour across Europe with twenty-three planned shows. Find all of their tour information as well as their latest release, ‘The Hunter’, at http://www.mastodonrocks.com/.

Disclosure: Ever since the release of their 2006 album 'Blood Mountain', Mastodon has been one of my favorite metal bands. Their constant evolution in sound and flawless live performances set them apart from their counterparts in the metal genre.

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