Mastodon is an American sludge metal/progressive metal band from Atlanta, Georgia, formed in 1999. The band comprises bassist/vocalist Troy Sanders, guitarist/vocalist Brent Hinds, guitarist Bill Kelliher and drummer/vocalist Brann Dailor. They have released seven full-length albums to date, expanding their musical borders from early raw sludgy riffs to later psychedelic multi-layered songs, yet maintaining progressive style with unusual time signatures and odd instrumentation.
The band's first demo (referred to simply as the 9 Song Demo) was released in 2000. It is unique in the band's catalogue for featuring the vocals of original vocalist Eric Saner. Other releases followed shortly thereafter, including the 2001 EPs Slick Leg and Lifesblood, which both consisted of re-recorded demo tracks. The band's demo and Slick Leg brought them to the attention of Relapse Records, who would release Lifesblood and their first two albums.
2002 saw the release of the band's debut full-length, entitled Remission. Released to strong reviews, the album is now regarded as a landmark of sludge metal, and already demonstrates the band's growth towards a more progressive style.
Leviathan, the band's second album, followed in 2004, receiving rapturous reviews and expanding the band's audience substantially. The album, which showcased the band's increasing progressive influences, brought the band to the attention of major label Reprise Records.
It was announced, in late 2005, that, having fulfilled contractual obligations to indie label Relapse Records, Mastodon had been offered a deal by a major music label, a spot on the Warner Music roster. Despite this, however, Relapse Records released a DVD, and re-released the band's only demo with new vocals. An album titled Call of the Mastodon, comprising the material recorded for the band's first and only untitled demo, which originally featured Eric Saner on vocals, was released in early 2006. A DVD entitled The Workhorse Chronicles was released not long after.
The band's third full-length album and Warner Music debut, Blood Mountain, was released September 12th, 2006. In an interview with MTV news, Brann Dailor revealed that the band's sound on this upcoming release would be decidedly different and more "progressive." He also expressed excitement over the possibility of the birth of a new "prog movement," naming bands such as Isis, along with Mastodon, as prospective leaders of said movement.
Blood Mountain met critical acclaim with reviews ranging from Metal Hammer and Kerrang! who stated it was as good or better than their last release Leviathan, while other critics view it as the essential release of the decade and UK Metal Hammer named it best album of '06. Blood Mountain also featured guest appearances by Scott Kelly of Neurosis on the track "Crystal Skull", Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age on "Colony of Birchmen", as well as The Mars Volta's keyboardist Isaiah "Ikey" Owens on "Pendulous Skin" and singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala (also of At the Drive-In) on "Siberian Divide".
Mastodon's fourth album Crack the Skye was released on March 24, 2009 as a normal version and a deluxe version (which includes all songs in instrumental versions as well as their normal versions). The album is produced by Brendan O'Brien, and Scott Kelly of Neurosis returns as a guest musician on the title track. The band had debuted three new tracks at the Bonnaroo Music Festival, but did not play anymore live before the album's release, due to fears of internet distribution and wanting to play the songs to the right audience. In a MusicRadar interview, guitarist Bill Kelliher confirmed that the album is about an "out of body experience," and looks at the concepts of astral travel, wormholes, Stephen Hawking's theories and the spiritual realm. Drummer Brann Dailor has a section of vocals on the song "Oblivion" following the intro and chorus. The band has announced that they will play the album in its entirety incorporating a stage show on their upcoming tour. Mastodon was a headliner at the Scion Rock Fest on February 28, 2009, performing a set containing three tracks from Crack the Skye, the first time these songs were played since being finalized and recorded. Scott Kelly made an appearance performing his guest vocals for the songs "Crack the Skye," "Aqua Dementia," and "Crystal Skull." Crack the Skye once again received strong reviews.
Mastodon's fifth album The Hunter was released on September 26, 2011 in the UK and one day later in the US via Reprise Records. The Hunter Songfacts says that the album was titled in honor of guitarist/vocalist Brent Hinds' brother, Brad, who unexpectedly passed away while hunting in December 2010. Mastodon actually had two working titles for the album in honor of Brad: "The Hunter" or "Brother."
Mastodon have previously appeared on the second stage at Ozzfest 2005 and have toured with the likes of Slayer, Lamb of God and Children of Bodom on the Unholy Alliance US tour and have 3 songs recorded live on the accompanying tour DVD.
On June 24, 2014, the band released their sixth studio album Once More 'Round the Sun.
Brann Dailor - Drums. (Formerly of Today Is The Day, Lethargy, Discordance Axis)
Troy Sanders - Vocals, Bass. (Also in Social Infestation, Four Hour Fogger, Knuckle, Bully)
Bill Kelliher - Guitar. (Formerly of Today Is The Day, Lethargy, Butterslax)
Brent Hinds - Guitar, Vocals. (Also in Fiend Without A Face, West End Motel, The Blood Vessels, Four Hour Fogger)
Aforementioned former member, Eric Saner, left the band soon after the release of the 2000 demo. Troy Sanders, the then bassist, was announced as the new lead vocalist, although vocal duties were increasingly shared with guitarist Brent Hinds to the point where they are considered co-vocalists. Dailor has also sung lead vocals on some songs starting with Crack the Skye, and Kelliher provides backing vocals on some songs.