Mastodon at First Avenue, 5/7/14

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Erik Hess

with Gojira and Kvelertak
First Avenue Mainroom, Minneapolis
Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The mighty Mastodon rampaged through First Avenue last night with France''s Gojira and Norway's Kvelertak, rounding out a massive evening of metal that left the room sweaty, bruised, and euphoric.

See also:
Slideshow: Mastodon slaughter First Avenue

Flanked by a quad of Orange stacks, Kvelertak's lead singer Erlend Hjelvik came to the stage with a stuffed owl on his head as the rest of the six-piece took their instruments. Hjelvik had a Danzig-esque look and intensity to him, and he belted some impressive black metal vocals over the band's power rock stylings making for an immense sonic combination. A classic rock core cut with blastbeats and metal screeches seemed to get through to everyone in the crowd, who nodded along with every stomp with an occasional fist pump interspersed. Closing on an epic that took up a good chunk of their long set, Kvelertak proved a fitting opener for what was to be a wide-ranging bill.
Photos by Erik Hess
Gojira brought an appropriate sense of drama to their melodic death metal set, taking stage to a pre-recorded guitar drone that turned into the band's pummeling opener. Their signature double-kick triplets, chugging open notes, and expertly timed guitar squeals were in full force throughout the powerful set, which agitated the crowded mosh pit. A few in the front row brought along tiny inflatable whales, presumably a reference to the band's lyrical references to protecting marine life and other environmental concerns.

Weaving between unrelenting intensity and harmonic resolution, Gojira took the audience a number of different directions, squeezing thrash grooves into drawn-out measures and combining highly technical playing with straight-ahead structures. Often signing off songs with a "Merci Beaucoup" before throttling into the next, there was an earnestness behind the brutality of the playing that shone through and captured the attentive crowd. 
Photo by Erik Hess
The headliners were introduced by the sounds of heavy winds and crashing waves, which could only mean they were starting with the nautical epic "Hearts Alive", the capper of the classic Moby Dick-themed Leviathan. Other than only touching "Crusher Destroyer" from Remission (as soon as that Tyrannosaur growl played through the speakers the older fans were gearing up their elbows for the ensuing monster riff), Mastodon split the set fairly evenly between records.

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