LIVE REVIEW: MASTODON, RED FANG, RUSSIAN CIRCLES @ NORTHUMBRIA INSTITUTE (06.12.17) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Ooof….What a line-up! Mastodon may be arriving on the back of their least distinguished record to date, but for a packed-out crowd tonight is as much about the supporting cast as it is the Atlantan quartet. As such, there’s a healthy early turnout to greet Russian Circles, a Chicago trio whose massive and masterful post-metal instrumentals merit so much more than the barely half hour slot afforded. They’re followed onstage by Portland four-piece Red Fang, an ideal warm-up act whose rollicking stoner riffs are more than up to the task of filling this daunting band sandwich.

As for Mastodon, all the decibels and mosh pits in the world can’t disguise the fact that tonight’s set houses some unusually run-of-the-mill material. Fortunately, they’ve the luxury of one of the most formidable catalogues in modern metal to fall back on, and while Show Yourself hits a certain spot it’s generally left to old favourites to supply the highlights. Thirteen-minute prog opus The Last Baron, for instance, is an audacious and hugely effective opener; Black Tongue offers echoes of the Melvins’ during their brief commercial juncture, while the furious sludge of Megalodon remains perhaps the most thrilling gloves-off romp of their career to date. It seems incongruous as they tread water in the studio, yet whether through 18 years honing their craft or the challenge posed by esteemed openers the Mastodon live show has rarely sounded better. 


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