Mastodon - Live at the Aragon
Reprise Records
Prog/Sludge metal
12 songs (78 minutes)
Release year: 2011
Mastodon, Reprise Records
Reviewed by Brian

Your opinion of Mastodon’s new concept album Live at the Aragon is going to depend on how you feel about their last studio album, the ambitious concept piece Crack the Skye. That’s because more than half of the set list is made up of that entire album, as the band recreated the thing nightly on their 2009 tour in support of the opus. Basically, if you were hoping this album was going to have a ton of shots back to their Relapse days, prepare to be disappointed. That said, considering how much time and effort they put into the record, and how it was embraced publicly, presenting Crack in its entirely each evening made a lot of sense.

That might not let Live at the Aragon, recorded in Chicago, age very well. Perhaps in a decade’s time, it will seem odd that the band concentrated so heavily on one record, but that’s for the future. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of Crack the Skye. Try and try again, I did with this album, but it never made its mark on me. Not sure why. I don’t think it’s because it’s not as heavy as their previous work, though I admit my favorite period of the band is the Remission/Leviathan eras, but because the Crack songs just aren’t as strong. The playing is excellent, sure, and I like the idea behind the album, but it just isn’t one I particularly enjoy.

Now, because of that, my opinion of Aragon might seem skewed, and that’s OK if anyone feels that way. I actually was excited to take on the new live disc because I thought it might help me absorb and appreciate Skye more than I do. And after listening several times, I don’t feel any different about the record. So … But, I can appreciate the playing on Aragon, which is steady as they go, impressive, rock solid. The live piece doesn’t sound as if it was polished up afterward, which is a plus, and while there are some warts (guitarist Brent Hinds’ ultra-nasal vocals in spots), it’s nice that the presentation was kept as is. Again, if you like Crack the Skye, you’re going to spend hours listening and dissecting. Did I mention there’s a DVD that accompanies this package? It includes not just the live set but the weird visual production that appeared behind the band as they played these songs. Yeah.

The band does delve a bit into their history on the second half of the album -- Circle of Cysquatch sounds awesome, as do Where Strides the Behemoth and Mother Puncher -- so we who cling to the earlier eras were not forgotten. It’s certainly a worthy addition to any lifelong Mastodon fan’s collection, no matter where you stand, but the amount of affection felt toward it will be wildly subjective.

Killing Songs :
Oblivion, Divinations, Mother Puncher
Brian quoted no quote
Other albums by Mastodon that we have reviewed:
Mastodon - Emperor of Sand reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Mastodon - The Hunter reviewed by Crash and quoted 90 / 100
Mastodon - Crack The Skye reviewed by James and quoted 97 / 100
Mastodon - Blood Mountain reviewed by Adam and quoted 95 / 100
Mastodon - Remission reviewed by Nathanael and quoted 93 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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