Dethklok/Mastodon @ Sound Academy, Toronto ON, October 23, 2009
Review and Photos by Adam Wills
With the completion of the second season of Metalocalypse, Dethklok took the road for a full North American tour with co-headliners Mastodon and strong support acts Converge and High on Fire. For a band that seems far from serious, they put together quite the heavyweight lineup, casting some of the top live talents to join them on their conquest for real-life world domination.
Unfortunately, the usual drive that would have had me arriving shortly after doors opened turned into a treacherous three hour hike that resulted in missing High on Fire and Converge. Word is that HoF were their normal hard-rocking selves, and Converge tour the stage down. Luckily, I walked in the door just as Mastodon were about to hit the stage.
With a level of intensity that I have yet to see matched, the Atlanta based quartet drove straight into a setlist that began with the entirety of 2009’s Crack The Skye. Accompanying the performance was a huge video screen in the background, with clips inspired by the album, which only added to the dramatic performance they put together. After the conclusion of “The Last Baron”, Mastodon continued through their discography, with tracks from their previous albums – “Circle Cysquatch”, “Aqua Dementia”, “Where Strides the Behemoth” and “Mother Puncher” – followed by their cover of the Melvins’ “The Bit”.
Although Dethklok is a band based on a comedic cartoon, creator Brendon Small and co take their performances very seriously. You won’t catch a smile on anyone’s faces, nevermind anyone cracking any Metalocalypse related jokes, which is left up to the animations displayed on the back dropped big screen. From the moment “Deththeme” started, Dethklok, rounded out by guitarist Mike Keneally (Frank Zappa, Steve Vai, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, and many others), bassist Bryan Beller (Dweezil Zappa’s Z), and drum legend Gene Hoglan (do I really need to? – SYL, Testament, Death, Dark Angel, etc, etc), took the crowd by storm with a barrage of riffs, growls and trademark Hoglan double-kicks. The only breaks in between songs came by way of video interludes, providing the comic relief that some of the not-so-metal crowd were expecting.
With a venture into the US looming the following day, I was forced to call it a night rather early, and headed for the exit about half way through their set – but make no mistake, it was not because of a sub-par performance. The live Dethklok are spot on and more serious than one would expect (as long as you don’t listen to the lyrics, of course), although the real humour may come in the fact that this “fake” band, spawned on The Cartoon Network, is better than a lot of the bands currently on the road.
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