Music: Mastodon

L-R: Troy, Bill, Brent, and Brann.

"Our next guests are a Grammy-nominated rock and roll band from Atlanta and, I won't lie to you, I'm frightened."

Mastodon are an American Progressive Metal band from the state of Georgia, consisting of guitarist and vocalist Brent Hinds, bassist and vocalist Troy Sanders, guitarist Bill Kelliher, and drummer and vocalist Brann Dailor.

In 2002, they released their first full-length album, Remission. This contained such tracks as "March of the Fire Ants" and "Crusher Destroyer" which was featured in Tony Hawk's Underground. Their real breakout came in 2004 with the release of Leviathan, a concept album based on Moby-Dick that catapulted them into the mainstream. It includes their most popular song, "Blood And Thunder."

Two years later, they released Blood Mountain, which many critics called the best metal album of 2006. In 2009, they completed their fourth studio album, Crack The Skye, continuing their string of well-received albums. It featured a slightly softer feel, but it was even more complex and progressive than their previous albums. A fifth album, The Hunter was released in September 2011, once again to strong critical reception. Once More 'round The Sun was released in June 2014.

Interestingly, all their albums have also been themed around the classical elements. Remission is Fire, Leviathan is Water, Blood Mountain is Earth, Crack The Skye is Aether and The Hunter is wood. Additionally, the last song on each of their first three albums has to do with Joseph Merrick, also known as the Elephant Man. All four members sing live.

By the way, yes, Mastodon is the band that Squishy's mom was listening to in that one scene in Monsters University (specifically "Island").

Mastodon's discography:

  • Remission (2002)
  • Leviathan (2004)
  • Call of the Mastodon (2006) (compilation album of re-recorded old songs prior to their debut, so it could be considered a studio album by those unfamiliar with their earliest material)
  • Blood Mountain (2006)
  • Crack the Skye (2009)
  • The Hunter (2011)
  • Once More 'Round the Sun (2014)

Mastodon shows examples of

  • All Myths Are True: Blood Mountain has this as its premise.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: "Creature Lives."
  • Astral Projection: The protagonist of Crack the Skye can use this.
  • Careful With That Axe: "Bladecatcher". Even more awesome when you consider that it's a guitar making those noises.
  • Concept Album: All but Remission and The Hunter.
    • Leviathan is based off of Herman Melville's novel, Moby-Dick.
    • Blood Mountain is about a man journeying to the top of a mountain and meeting mythical creatures on the way.
    • Crack The Skye has a storyline combining art aesthetics of Tsarist Russia, astral travel, out of body experiences, and Stephen Hawking's theories on wormholes.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Magicland, in the "Deathbound" music video.
  • Doomed by Canon: Rasputin. But he Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence afterward to help the hero of Crack the Skye.
  • Epic Rocking: "Hearts Alive" and "The Last Baron" are both over 13 minutes long. "The Czar" is just under 11 minutes.
  • Green Aesop: The video for "Curl of the Burl."
  • Handicapped Badass: The hero of Crack the Skye is a paraplegic with the power of Astral Projection.
  • Heavy Mithril:
    • A whole album about Moby-Dick.
    • Crack the Skye is an album that tells an epic story.
    • Blood Mountain, in the regard of its many mythical creatures.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Shockingly, Crack the Skye is probably the only example in which the Mad Monk, Grigori Rasputin, becomes a hero. He is prone to being portrayed as a Villain.
  • How We Got Here: Subverted with "Dry Bone Valley." It's clear that the narrator is running away from something, literally from the very first line, but at no point do we find out how he got into this mess.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Due to Brent Hinds' unique voice, many of their songs have this.
    • Subverted with "Pendulous Skin" and "Bladecatcher", which are instrumentals, but they use sonic effects to emulate vocals that leave listeners baffled as to what is being said.
  • Intercourse with You, IN SPACE!: "Stargasm".
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: The main character of Blood Mountain seeks the Crystal Skull to cure it.
  • Lead Bassist: Troy Sanders is a Type C.
  • Lesser Star: Bill. He is the only member to perform only backing vocal parts, plays fewer guitar leads than Brent, and writes none of the lyrics. However, he is responsible for much of the direction that the band takes and the band was named after a tattoo on his arm, possibly making him The Chick.
  • Lighter and Softer: Crack the Skye. Not by much though.
    • The Hunter dips in and out of this trope, and Once More 'Round The Sun dives right back into it again, opting for a more spacey, psychedelic (though still relatively heavy) feel than their oppressive, gritty sound from before.
    • If Call Of The Mastodon is any indication, they were even heavier before their first album.
  • Instrumentals: "Elephant Man", "Joseph Merrick", "Bladecatcher", "Pendulous Skin"
    • The band released a full instrumental version of the Crack the Skye album.
  • Metal Scream: Used quite liberally in most of their pre-Crack the Skye work.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Prior to Crack the Skye, most of their songs were 7-8, with a few, like "Blood And Thunder", that got up to 9. Crack the Skye features mostly 6-7. And "Bladecatcher" is a...Drum roll... 10.
  • New Sound Album: They shifted away from sludge metal and towards lighter, psychedelic progressive metal with every album from Leviathan onward, culminating in the full-on Progressive Metal album Crack the Skye. The Hunter seems to be a reversal of this trend, though.
  • No Talking Or Phones Warning: For Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: "Divinations." It sends the hero back in time to WW1 in Russia.
  • The Power of Rock: The band uses it on an enemy Neanderthal in the "Divinations" music video. Then they give him a guitar and they all rock out for a bit...only to be killed and eaten by the Neanderthal afterward.
  • Psychopomp: In Crack the Skye, Rasputin serves as one to guide the main character's spirit back to his comatose body.
  • Rasputinian Death: Happens to...Rasputin, who puts up a huge fight but dies in the conclusion of "The Czar."
  • Refuge in Audacity: Their music videos. In Brann's words:
    "We kind of took the music video as a way to round out, because of the fact that we’re so serious on stage, so serious in our music, so serious in our art with our artwork of the record. The music videos were a way for us to put more of our personality into it as far as our sense of humor, or making it twisted somehow, or different, or bizarre, or provocative."
    • Probably some of the best examples of this are "Blood and Thunder", which features a 150 clown mosh pit and the band dressed as Shriners, fezzes and all; "Deathbound", where Brann as Mr. Rogers introduces a version of Magicland that devolves into a hellish war; and "The Motherload", in which a 90s era creepy metal video gets taken over by twerking female dancers.
  • Satan:
    • The final villain in Crack the Skye.
    • In "Cut You Up With a Linoleum Knife," He will also "rain down your throat with hot acid and dissolve your testicles and turn your guts into snakes" if you get caught downloading movies.
  • Sex in Space / Zero-G Spot: "Stargasm."
  • Shout-Out: The eponymous track from The Hunter includes the lyrics "All the love I make is equal to the love I take," which is a variation on the closing lines from The Beatles' famous Abbey Road album.
  • Soprano and Gravel: This is done more in their later work with the contrast between Brent Hinds' nasal clean vocals and Troy Sanders' low, scratchy grunt. Brann Dailor also comes in occasionally with his smoother clean vocals.
  • The Stoner: Hinds is legendary for his extremely heavy drug usage. You name it, he's probably done it.
  • Subverted Kids Show / Sugar Apocalypse: The music video for "Deathbound".
  • Surreal Music Video: "Curl of the Burl", which starts with a guy living in a small travel trailer/drug lab who chops down a forbidden tree and snorts the wood to get high. It gets stranger from there.
  • The Cameo: Of the musical variety. In Monsters University there is a scene where Squishy's mother turns on the radio in her car and starts listening to "Island." Seeing a very suburban mother (even if she is a monster) listening to a band like Mastodon makes for a pretty hilarious moment.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: The conclusion of Crack the Skye. The hero gets back to his body and can walk.
  • Total Eclipse of the Plot: The idea behind the "Deathbound" music video: an eclipse compels the residents of Magicland to go Ax-Crazy, monsters are summoned, aliens invade, the world is destroyed, and all the puppets are dying. And it's all played for laughs.
  • Uncommon Time: As is pretty much obligatory for a Progressive Metal band, this is copious throughout their discography. Listen to "March of the Fire Ants" for an example.
  • Vocal Tag Team: Troy and Brent handle the lion's share of the vocals, with Brann chipping in on lead vocals on a few songs and backing vocals on others. They also swap around on several songs, notably "Iron Tusk" and "Curl of the Burl".