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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. Emperor of Sand was released in March 2017. Hushed and Grim was released in October 2021.

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.

In January of 2018, the band won their first Grammy Award; winning the Best Metal Performance category for their song "Sultan's Curse", which was released on their Emperor of Sand album. It was notably their first non-single to be nominated for such award. It was also a feat that their songs "High Road", "Curl of the Burl", and "Colony of Birchmen" failed to do.note 

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

Has nothing to do with Mastodon, the software for federated social networks.


  • Remission (2002)
  • Leviathan (2004)
  • Call of the Mastodon (2006) (compilation album of demo songs from prior to their début with re-recorded vocals and a reordered track listing, so it could be considered a studio album by those unfamiliar with their earliest material; alternate performances of some of this material also made it onto their early Lifesblood and Slick Leg EPs)
  • Blood Mountain (2006)
  • Crack the Skye (2009)
  • The Hunter (2011)
  • Once More 'Round the Sun (2014)
  • Emperor of Sand (2017)
  • Cold Dark Place (EP) (2017)
  • Hushed and Grim (2021)

Current Members:

  • Troy Sanders - vocals, bass guitar, keyboards (2000-)
  • Brent Hinds - vocals, lead guitar (2000-)
  • Bill Kelliher - rhythm guitar, backing vocals (2000-)
  • Brann Dailor - drums, vocals (2000-)

Former and Touring Members:

  • Eric Saner - lead vocals (2000-2000)
  • Derek Mitchka - keyboards (2011, touring)

Tropes and Thunder:

  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: This was what led to Brent Hinds' concussion at the 2007 VMAs. While initial reports suggested that Hinds had been jumped, the truth was that he had tackle-hugged Shavo Odadjian while extremely drunk and high, then randomly took a swing at William Hudson (the vocalist for Odadjian's side project Achozen) and got punched square in the head by Hudson and fell and hit his head on the sidewalk.
  • All Myths Are True: Blood Mountain has this as its premise.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: "Creature Lives."
  • Ass Shove: In the extended version of "Cut You Up with a Linoleum Knife".
  • Astral Projection: The protagonist of Crack the Skye can use this.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The song title "Ísland". It's Icelandic, for, well, Iceland.
  • Breather Episode: In a 2017 interview, Brann Dailor explained that part of the reason for the band's Lighter and Softer approach on The Hunter was several of the members going through personal tragedies at the same time, and as a result wanting to make a fun, less emotionally intense album.
  • Call-Back: On Remission, "Trampled Under Hoof" drops the title of the band's first EP, Lifesblood. The song had actually been written when the EP was named, but was not included on it.
  • 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 "Ísland." Seeing a very suburban mother (even if she is a monster) listening to a band like Mastodon makes for a pretty hilarious moment.
    • Brent, Troy, and Bill also showed up as wildlings in an episode of Game of Thrones.
  • Careful with That Axe: "Bladecatcher". Even more awesome when you consider that it's a guitar making those noises.
  • Concept Album: All but Remission,The Hunter, Once More Round The Sun and Hushed and Grim.
    • 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.
    • Emperor of Sand follows the life and journey of a cancer patient.
  • Cover Version: Released a cover of "Stairway to Heaven" in 2019 as a tribute to the band's late manager and Team Dad Nick John, following his death from pancreatic cancer.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Magicland, in the "Deathbound" music video.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Curl of the Burl gives us: "I killed a man 'cause he killed my goat."
  • Doomed by Canon: Rasputin. But he Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence afterward to help the hero of Crack the Skye.
  • Elemental Motifs: The band's first four albums are meant to correspond with one of them. Remission represents fire; Leviathan (naturally) represents water; Blood Mountain represents earth; Crack the Skye represents aether. Air is the only classical element for which Mastodon has yet to create a corresponding album. The Hunter as a whole was not intended to correspond with an element, but many of the songs represent wood, which is a Chinese classical element; Once More 'Round the Sun does not correspond with the elements theme, as it is said to have a theme of "death".
  • Epic Rocking: "Hearts Alive" and "The Last Baron" are both over 13 minutes long. "The Czar" is just under 11 minutes. "Jaguar God" and "Diamond in the Witch House", both the final tracks on their respective albums, are nearly eight minutes long. At 86 minutes, Hushed and Grim is their longest album, including six tracks exceeding the 6-minute mark and with one passing the 8-minute mark ("Gobblers of Dregs").
  • Fanservice: The video for "Motherload" features a lot of erotic dancers.
  • Genre Mashup: All of the founders liked different things, and they all brought their respective preferences to the table to create an eclectic and unique sound. Brann was mostly into prog and jazz, Bill was mostly into death metal and mathcore, Troy was into grindcore and sludge metal, and Brent grew up playing country and also liked psychedelic and Southern rock, and it was mostly a common appreciation for Neurosis and the Melvins that glued it all together.
  • 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.
  • Hidden Track: The CD versions of Remission and Blood Mountain have them. Remission has just about a minute and a half of white noise, while Blood Mountain has a prank call from Josh Homme talking about how he uploaded their album to the Internet.
  • 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 "Blade catcher", which are instrumentals, but they use sonic effects to emulate vocals that leave listeners baffled as to what is being said.
  • Instrumentals: "Elephant Man", "Joseph Merrick", "Bladecatcher", "Pendulous Skin"
    • The band released a full instrumental version of the Crack the Skye album.
  • Intercourse with You, IN SPACE!: "Stargasm".
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: The main character of Blood Mountain seeks the Crystal Skull to cure it.
  • Last Note Nightmare: After the gentle instrumental "Elephant Man" at the end of Remission, there's a minute of silence and then a minute and a half of white noise. (This is excluded from some reissues of the album on vinyl, however).
  • Lead Bassist: Bassist Troy Sanders is the co-lead singer with Brent and Brann.
  • Lead Drummer: Brann Dailor is probably better known than the guitarists, and may be the best known member overall due to his virtuosity. Since Crack the Skye, he has also been the co-lead singer with Troy and Brent.
  • Lead Singer Plays Lead Guitar: While all 4 members of are capable of singing, it's lead guitarist Brent Hinds who does so predominantly, whereas rhythm guitarist Bill Kelliher usually only does backing vocals.
  • 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.
  • Lighter and Softer: Crack the Skye. Not by much though. Arguably zigzagged in that while it's musically less heavy than the band's previous records, it has a much darker, more sombre tone overall, being heavily inspired by the death of Brann Dailor's sister.
    • 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.
    • Cold Dark Place is a very mellow, slower-paced outing made up of songs that were judged to be too Lighter and Softer to fit on the band's previous two albums.
  • Long Runner Lineup: Hasn't changed since 2000, unless you count live members, and even then it was unchanged for over ten years.
  • Loudness War: The band's albums are mastered fairly loudly, especially after they signed to Reprise, since which point they've also been badly clipped (this also affected Call of the Mastodon, which is particularly unfortunate since the original demo versions were pretty quiet by contemporary standards and not badly clipped). The vinyl editions of Blood Mountain and Crack the Skye were given separate masters without clipping, however, and these are worth tracking down.
  • Man on Fire: Well, "Burning Man".
  • Metal Scream: Used quite liberally in most of their pre-Crack the Skye work. Brent is a Type 1. Troy is a Type 2.
  • 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
  • Non-Appearing Title: Some of the titles of their songs don't seem to have anything to do with the songs themselves. For example, "Octopus Has No Friends" off The Hunter is about... well, it's tough to say what it actually is about, but it has nothing to do with octopi or friendship, let alone a lack of friendship amongst octopi.
  • Ocean Madness: The subject of "Aqua Dementia", and a general theme of Leviathan as a whole.
  • Once an Episode:
    • The first three albums end with instrumentals named in honour of Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man, all of which are Surprisingly Gentle Songs. After this point they would abandon this.
    • Scott Kelly of Neurosis provides guest vocals once per album starting with Leviathan, with the exception being Hushed and Grim.
    • It's a slight oversimplification to say each song uses Uncommon Time at least once, but not by much. They use it a lot.
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: "Divinations." It sends the hero back in time to World War I 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.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: In comparison to the scatterbrained Brent and the more pensive and reserved Bill and Troy, Brann Dailor is well-known for his boisterousness and goofy sense of humor, often joking around in interviews and posting amusing videos to the band's Instagram page.
  • Psychopomp: In Crack the Skye, Rasputin serves as one to guide the main character's spirit back to his comatose body.
  • Pun-Based Title: Crack the Skye is named in honour of Dailor's late sister Skye and an obscure Progressive Rock band named Crack the Sky.
  • Rasputinian Death: Happens to...Rasputin, who puts up a huge fight but dies in the conclusion of "The Czar."
  • Recut: Call of the Mastodon consists of the band's demo with a new track order, new vocals by Brent and Troy replacing the vocals of the band's original vocalist Eric Saner, and a louder remaster. The Japanese version also includes the vocal samples that accompanied some of the tracks on their Lifesblood releases (which are excluded from other versions of Call of the Mastodon) and a live version of "Where Strides the Behemoth" as a bonus track.
  • 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.
  • Sampling: They were very fond of this early on, with several songs from Lifesblood containing samples of films like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (sampled in “Shadows That Move”). These were cut out of most other studio versions of the songs (they can also be found on the Japanese version of Call of the Mastodon, but have been cut out on all other releases of the album), though they were frequently kept in when performed live at the time. Other songs also sometimes got vocal samples in their introduction (if memory serves, one of the Remission songs got a sample from The Big Lebowski - “I don’t like your jerkoff name, I don’t like your jerkoff face, I don’t like your jerkoff behaviour, and I don’t like you, jerkoff” - which got cut out when the song was recorded for the album). "Crusher Destroyer" starts with a sample of a roaring T-Rex from Jurassic Park.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • The opening riff from Rush's "YYZ" is dropped into "The Last Baron" for a couple of bars.
    • Some editions of the cover artwork for Leviathan incorporate elements from Hokusai's famous painting The Great Wave off Kanagawa, namely the wave on the right side of the image (which can be viewed here). Leviathan itself, of course, is based on Moby-Dick.
  • 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.
  • Space Whale Aesop: The music video for Curl of the Burl. If you snort the sawdust from a forbidden tree or murder mushroom men with a mortar and pestle then smoke the goo you made out of them to get high, women will turn you into a log and set you on fire by flashing their breasts at you. And throwing a tree through the sun's eye is right out.
  • Special Guest: Lots of them. Some examples:
    • Scott Kelly of Neurosis provides guest vocals on "Aqua Dementia", "Crystal Skull", "Crack the Skye", "Spectrelight", "Diamond in the Witch House" and "Scorpion Breath"; he also co-wrote the lyrics for many of these songs.
    • Neil Fallon of Clutch provides guest vocals on "Blood and Thunder".
    • Josh Homme of Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age provides guest vocals on "Colony of Birchmen" and leaves a prank call for a hidden track on Blood Mountain.
    • Cedric Bixler-Zavala of At the Drive-In and The Mars Volta provides guest vocals on "Siberian Divide".
    • The late Isaiah "Ikey" Owens of The Mars Volta and Jack White provides keyboards for "Pendulous Skin" and "Asleep in the Deep".
    • Gary Lindsey of Assjack provides backing vocals on "Aunt Lisa", as do The Coathangers.
  • The Stoner: Hinds is legendary for his extremely heavy drug usage. You name it, he's probably done it. This almost caused Mastodon to not even form; Kelliher, having been impressed by Hinds' performance with the band he was in at the time, invited him to jam with him and Brann Dailor, only for Hinds to show up so fucked up that he couldn't do anything other than play the same note again and again with his amp turned all the way up. The two had already written him off as completely useless when he showed up again the next day unsolicited and vastly more sober, demonstrated his abilities as a guitarist, and got them to give him a second chance and made history.
  • 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 Motherload", being a conscious attempt by the band to mash up a creepy, 90s-style metal video (in the vein of Metallica's "Until It Bleeds") with an Atlanta hip-hop video, is a parody that also serves as an example: it starts out with druids and religious imagery, but the set is invaded by twerking exotic dancers, who quickly take over the video; they have a dance-off, and then the guitar solo is accompanied by a psychedelic, kaleidoscopic close-up of a dancer's rump.
    • "Asleep in the Deep" sees a cat leave its master at night to enter a strange landscape occupied by equally strange puppets, and soon transforms into a puppet itself before heading into even stranger territory.
  • 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. Or, hell, "Shadows That Move", the very first song on their very first EP (and demo).
  • 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".
  • Zero-G Spot: "Stargasm."