Taking their band moniker from a giant, lumbering, tusk-faced elephant from the Ice Age, Atlanta quartet Mastodon has evolved from a solid doom-metal outfit into a powerhouse hard-rock act capable of synthesizing hardcore-edged Foo Fighters-esque guitar riffs and big melodic hooks with horns-up solos and prog ambitions. The band’s brand-new album, Emperor of Sand (their seventh), is a deep, unflinching musical statement on mortality and the ravages of illness, specifically cancer.
Which isn’t to say the record is a downer. The first single “Show Yourself,” for instance, comes tearing at the listener like a dragster on fire, singer-drummer-lyricist Brann Dailor tearing into his vocal duties like a man with nothing to lose. Indeed, observing and struggling to comfort friends and family members stricken with one of the worst diagnoses possible has apparently brought out the best in Mastodon in the studio and—judging by their recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! earlier this month—onstage.
Mastodon stands unique in the lineup for Las Rageous, a two-day metal and hard-rock fest taking place in Downtown Vegas. They’re far and away the most critically acclaimed group, and certainly unapologetic about making a serious artistic statement in an environment where having your band’s shirts sold in Hot Topic seems to be the ultimate aspiration. Experiencing the best tracks off Sand performed live will likely be a 2017 concert highlight.
April 21 & 22, 5 p.m., $79–$499 , Downtown Las Vegas Events Center, lasrageous.com
Friday, April 21
Coheed and Cambria
Of Mice & Men
The Devil Wears Prada
Saturday, April 22
Eagles of Death Metal
All That Remains
Escape the Fate