DB HOF NO. 38
The making of Mastodon’s “Remission”
released: May 2002
While it’ll never be regarded as the kind of breakthrough record Leviathan became, thanks to universal acclaim (indie rock critics and all) and its inclusion on not one but three video game soundtracks (Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Project Gotham Racing 3, Saints Row), Mastodon’s Remission LP is much more important in the scheme of the band’s history and modern metal itself. On the surface, it signaled a simple change in Mastodon’s approach, from the cut-and-run chaos of 2001’s Lifesblood EP to a fully formed journey-to-the-center-of-the-earth vibe. As in riffs that shift gears by the second, drums that put the poly- in polyrhythm, and basslines that actually add something other than a molasses-thick bottom-end. OK, so the hydra-head vocals of guitarist Brent Hinds and bassist Troy Sanders still had some blossoming to do before they’d reach the distinct ranges displayed on some of Leviathan and all of 2006’s Blood Mountain. And as the band openly admits, their abstract, communal tales of workhorses and some “burning man” guy often came together the same day vocals were tracked. Speaking of studio time, did we mention that Remission was completed in 10 days? Three of which were lost when a tape machine broke, while the rest were powered by a tension/release cycle of balancing back-breaking day jobs (Hinds, for one, was working from the break of dawn ’til late afternoon in a construction crew) with the pressure of nailing a real-deal studio record with an A-list producer like Matt Bayles (Botch, Isis).
As you’re about to read, everyone survived with his respective psyche relatively intact. In fact, Mastodon recently rediscovered the raw power of their own material when two Brooklyn gigs with Neurosis demanded a career-spanning set list featuring such solid-gold barn-burning classics as “Trilobite” and “Where Strides the Behemoth.” While their sound at the first show may have been in-the-red to the point of nearly blowing every speaker in sight (before Neurosis, mind you), there was no denying why Mastodon should never lose sight of their salad days.
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