In the latest in our Why I Love series, we welcome Astrosaur to the site. Astrosaur are an instrumental power trio from Oslo, Norway. Here, Eirik Kråkenes from the band shares his love of the ever impressive Mastodon.
I really dig Mastodon! The first time I was introduced to them was in a guitar magazine around 2003 or 2004, probably right before ‘Leviathan’ came out. The article was about new rising metal bands continuing the legacy of the classic 80’s metal bands, and featured guitarists doing twin guitar harmonies similar to that of Iron Maiden.
I was the biggest Maiden fan at the time, so anything that could be slightly associated with them peaked my interest. The big part for me with Mastodon was how they managed to fuse their love for 80’s metal with sludge, stoner and all the good stuff that has come after. So, I was definitely intrigued by their sound and continued to keep a close eye on them on the following albums.
It all clicked for me with them when I first heard ‘Crack The Skye’, and it’s still my favourite album of theirs. Musically, I think all the songs are really good. The songwriting is really progressive, and there’s just so many cool riffs, parts and memorable moments. The production too is stunning, and has so many layers and details to really dig into while listening repeatedly.
Lyrically, the album as a whole tells an epic story including astral projections and tsar Russia, which fits perfectly next to any classic metal concept album. There’s also metaphors for some of the members dark, personal life experiences on there, which gives the album even more emotional weight, I think. So, everything about it – the songs, concept, artwork, production, the time it came out and it’s place in the band’s discography, too – worked together and gave it an aura of ‘classic album’ for me.
I love musicians and bands that have their own distinctive voice, that have a sound you recognise and can tell who are just by listening to them without necessarily knowing the song. I think Mastodon is one of those bands. The combination of influences and the way they write riffs and melodies are obviously a big part of that, but also the sound of the individual players.
I’m especially fond of Brann’s drumming. Mastodon came out at a time when it felt like metal drummers focused more on tight, structured, almost mechanical drum parts that could have been programmed in the studio. Brann’s playing feels more organic, loose, like he’s playing to the song at that precise moment, almost improvising and playing it slightly different from time to time. In that regard, he has more in common with old school drummers than many modern metal drummers.
The same thing goes for Brent’s soloing. An absolute virtuous, but more in terms of attitude, energy and feeling than perfect technique, like some guitarists seems to focus a bit too much on. Both very characteristic, entertaining players and I’m sure every Mastodon fan would recognise them easily if you’d feature them as guests on any rock track. That uniqueness is admirable and something I think every instrumentalist wants to achieve.
I really enjoy all of their albums, from the abrasive sound of Remission, to the more accessible sound of their later records, and it’s been inspiring to follow that progression.
Many thanks to Eirik for taking the time to profess his love of Mastodon. You can see more of Astrosaur by following the links below, and you can listen to the bands latest single, Poyekhali.