Mastodon, Sonisphere UK Main Stage, July 10 2011

Masters of progressive metal, Mastodon are past the point of being a tight setup.  You can expect this at the very least – anything else is just evidence of how far they have come in the 12 years of their existence.

Impressed by their performance last year at Newcastle’s O2 Academy we were psyched about seeing the US band again.  One hour was a respectable amount of time for the four-piece to gradually envelop the many attending the Apollo Stage at 2:50pm. 

As far as sets go, Mastodon certainly mixed things up, playing just a couple from their latest Crack The Skye record and a number from Blood Mountain and Leviathan, surmounting in a performance of 14 tracks.  Iron Tusk from the latter record unexpectedly opened the set in vivacious style.  They might even be slightly heavier live, and it’s perhaps without intention, but regardless – brilliant.

Whoever said Lars Ulrich was the drummer to watch out for in Soni 2011 was foolishly ignoring Brann Dailor.  Where many other drummers are inwardly appreciated by other drummers, his unpredictable off-beats and technical fills are enough to mesmerise anyone – whether drummer or non-drummer.

Giving nothing away from the upcoming The Hunter album (named in memory of guitarist Brent Hinds’ brother who passed away on an expedition last year) Mastodon stuck to released material – Crack The Skye and Sleeping Giant making the biggest rifts mid-set before ending the performance with the rage-filled Blood And Thunder.

Whatever’s next, there’s a strong feeling that it will surpass any modest expectations.  Mastodon are set to release The Hunter around October time and for an band at their peak, this is absolutely the most exciting time to be a fan of the proggy sludge kings.

Calum Robson