Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Mastodon specialize in taking the expected moves of a metal band and turning them on their ears. Part Rush, part Blue Oyster Cult, part Thin Lizzy, part Melvins, part Slayer, part ... you name it. There's a lot going on here. Not only is the music they create a constantly evolving brew of sludge metal, grindcore, noise and psychedelia, Mastodon are almost certainly the only band ever to have an entire album about Herman Melville's Moby Dick (2004's Leviathan, which isn't just weird, but is an awesome record to boot). They followed that album up with one about climbing a mountain while in an, um, heightened state of consciousness and encountering the scariest deer that ever lived (2006's Blood Mountain). Fun stuff. The next album was about tsarist Russia and time travel (2009's Crack the Skye). And now, the band's latest album, The Hunter, isn't based on a single concept, but is named in honor of guitarist Brent Hinds' brother, who died of a heart attack while on a hunting trip in December 2010.
When Mastodon first emerged in 2001, they were one cog in a burgeoning experimental-metal scene, with Sunn0))), Isis, Khanate, etc. Now they are the defining band of that school. Here's a playlist for newcomers and, hopefully, die-hards alike. The first song is about the dreaded "white whale." "Circle of Cysquatch" is kind of the "Monster Mash" of modern times. And "Oblivion" sounds like something off Floyd's Animals. Good stuff.