Mastodon sound visceral and astonishing enough on studio-recorded material, so a live album should be a treat and something to be listened to with great care: listening out for the little things that make a live album great. The crowd singing along, the band performing songs that they perhaps wouldn’t at other gigs, the band pulling out all the stops for a live appearance, tiny flaws within songs that let you know the band are human, after all.
It should be something for the fans to worship and to be listened to again and again when they have the urge to go to a gig, but can’t make it to one for whatever reason. It should be the next best thing to seeing a band live. But, unfortunately for Mastodon, this live album doesn’t sound that great. Even though they are one of the greatest metal bands to emerge in years, the album sounds rather flat and to be honest, boring. However, you can’t take away the fact that seeing them live would make a hell of a difference, rather than imagining them while listening to a recording of them play live.
The redeeming factors of this album are the interaction of the crowd, it gives ‘Live At The Aragon’ a real feel and you also get a sense of how tight the band are. Even though it comes across as a bit flat, there’s no denying the talent of each member.
‘Divinations’ is one of the tracks that stand out. As a favourite with fans, it’s one of the few tracks here that makes the grade to sounding as good as it should. ‘Ghost Of Karelia’ is also a track that seems to sit right, and is head and shoulders above the rest of the tracks. It helps a great deal that the crowd can be distinguished throughout the song, and Brent Hinds‘ vocals are at their best on this track too.
‘Mother Puncher’ is also a great track here. It’s in-your-face, straight-up Mastodon and the whole band create an atmosphere that seeps out of the speakers, so it’s imaginable that live it would’ve been fucking awesome. As possibly the heaviest track on the ‘Crack The Skye’ record, the band do extremely well to pull the heaviness off live, but also manage to add a tinge of technicality they are renowned for playing. A great track.
Even though there are tracks that let the album down, most notably with ‘Quintessence’, ‘Aqua Dementia’ and ‘Where Strides The Behemoth’, this album is more than likely going to be a hit with the die-hards and will sell well. It’s just a little disappointing, as Mastodon could have done something great here.
Written by Rhys Milsom