Mastodon, Converge | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader
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Atlanta's MASTODON has become so megalithic in the underground metal scene it's hard to believe the forthcoming Blood Mountain (Warner Brothers) is only their third full-length. Most prog-metal bands concentrate on the high-end in their ambitious epics; Mastodon's might is in the foundation. No one but no one uses drums quite like they do, with pounding so solid the songs are more landmass than music. Their first two records, Remission and Leviathan, were so meticulously, deeply layered you expected to find fossils in the bedrock. Like Leviathan, Blood Mountain is a concept album: its conceit is the heroic struggle to scale a summit when the crevasses and valleys give way to an utterly believable nightmare landscape, populated by monsters both internal and external. --Monica Kendrick

It wasn't just proggy virtuosity or exceeding brutality that made CONVERGE's Jane Doe a metalcore masterpiece--it also happened to be surprisingly listenable. Even my friends who think the genre's never been anything but an ill-advised trend own a copy. Maybe the band sneaked in subliminal messages that convinced people they really enjoyed music that made them feel terrible about the world; more likely, it's that their songs were punishingly good. Based on a couple of tracks I've heard, I don't think the upcoming No Heroes (Epitaph) will reach the classic status of Jane Doe, but after 15 years together the band's definitely figured out some fail-safe ways to bring the hurt. --Miles Raymer

Mastodon headlines, Converge plays second, and the Bronx opens. Thu 9/14, 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $16 in advance, $18 at the door. All ages.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Ryan Russell.

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