Mastodon is an American heavy metal band from Atlanta, Georgia. Formed in 2000, the group is composed of bassist Troy Sanders, guitarists Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher, and drummer Brann Dailor, all of whom perform vocals in studio (except Bill Kelliher). They all perform vocals at live shows. Their musical style features progressive concepts and unique instrumentation. Mastodon has released seven studio albums, as well as a number of other records. The band’s debut album, Remission, released in 2002, garnered significant critical acclaim for its unique sound. Mastodon’s second full-length release, Leviathan, is a concept album based on the novel Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. Three magazines awarded the record Album of the Year in 2004: Revolver, Kerrang! and Terrorizer.
The song “Colony of Birchmen” from the band’s 2006 third album, Blood Mountain, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 2007. Blood Mountain was followed in 2009 by Crack the Skye, and in 2011 by The Hunter, which achieved major commercial success in the United States, debuting at No. 10 on the Billboard 200 chart. The Hunter features the song “Curl of the Burl”, which was nominated for a Grammy for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance in 2012. Mastodon’s 2014 album, Once More ‘Round the Sun, peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 chart and features the band’s third Grammy-nominated song, “High Road”. The band’s seventh album Emperor of Sand was released on March 31, 2017, which features the band’s most commercially successful song to date, “Show Yourself”, peaking at number 4 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart in June 2017.
Mastodon was formed on January 13, 2000, after drummer Brann Dailor and guitarist Bill Kelliher moved to Atlanta from Victor, New York and met bassist/singer Troy Sanders and guitarist/singer Brent Hinds at a High on Fire show. They discovered they had a mutual appreciation of sludge metal bands Melvins and Neurosis and 1970s hard-rockers Thin Lizzy, and shortly thereafter formed Mastodon. In an interview in 2009, Kelliher revealed that the first time Hinds attended a practice with the band, he “showed up so wasted he couldn’t play”.
The band recorded a demo in 2000, which featured the band’s first lead singer Eric Saner on vocals.Saner left the band for personal reasons after just a couple of months. After recording a four-song demo and a 7-inch picture disc through Reptilian Records, Mastodon landed a record deal with Relapse Records in 2001. Mastodon released an EP, Lifesblood, in 2001, and its first full-length album, Remission, was released in 2002, with the singles “March of the Fire Ants” and “Crusher/Destroyer” (which was also featured on Tony Hawk’s Underground). On each of Mastodon’s first three full-length albums the last track was an instrumental composition with a title that related to the Elephant Man.
Mastodon cross multiple heavy metal genres such as progressive metal, sludge metal, alternative metal, stoner rock, experimental metal, and groove metal. James Christopher Monger of Allmusic describes Mastodon as “one of the more notable New Wave of American Heavy Metal acts, a genre spawned in the mid-’90s” and says that “Mastodon’s innovative, lyrically astute blend of progressive metal, grindcore, and hardcore helped position the band as one of the preeminent metal acts of the early 21st century.”
Mastodon’s musical style has evolved much from their earliest pre-Remission releases to The Hunter. Their early work is significantly heavier and more abrasive than their later work, primarily or exclusively using harsh vocals, more distorted instruments, and more atypical song structures; this is especially prominent in their earliest work. The release of Mastodon’s third studio album Blood Mountain, which incorporates both clean and harsh vocals, marked a shift in the vocal styles used, with subsequent albums favouring clean vocals almost exclusively.
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