Sound: As a long time Mastodon fan, I picked this up noticing one of their best albums was played in its entirety live. Mastodon is probably not known for their singing ability and you can notice their vulnerability in attempting to do so. It's not horrible, but it's not Stellar either. That could be the reason the vocals weren't mixed very high but because Mastodon has a huge wall of sound between Brann's drums, Troy's bass and the combined effort of Bill and Brent's guitar work, its not surprising that the vocals aren't as loud as they are in the studio. That said, I wouldn't downgrade their live performance based on their vocals alone, because Mastodon are probably one of, if not the tightest sounding bands in their genre and their instrumental work more than makes up for their "eh" singing abilities... On a side note, they are much better at their caveman-esque grunts and bellows live than they are singing, as evidenced in "Crack The Skye", "Circle Of Cysquatch", "Aqua Dementia", "Where Strides The Behemoth", and "Mother Puncher". Their cover of The Melvins "The Bit" was pretty impressive too, and I thought did justice to the original. Overall, if you're a Mastodon fan and a fan of "Crack The Skye" it is definitely worth a listen. // 7
Perfomance: Here is where my complaints surface. While the band sounds tight instrumentally and average vocally, I was surprised to see that there was no crowd interaction whatsoever. I'm not sure if it's because they knew this was going to be a recorded concert and wanted to solely focus on the music or if that's how they are live in general, but I would have liked for a little more crowd interaction.
01. "Oblivion" - Instrumentally tight, Brann's vocals are faint, but pretty much on key. However, Brent and Troy's vocals are a little hit and miss but overall it was a good performance, solo was spot on. Not really any complaints here.
02. "Divinations" - The band seemed to get a little warmed up vocally and it wasn't so bad vocally. Same story with the rythym section, nailed solo.
03. "Quintessence" - I felt that by this song, the band were at its peak and the vocals were a lot better than on "Oblivion" but still left a little to be desired.
04. "The Czar" - This is where things get a hell of a lot better, but maybe I'm biased because this is my favorite track off the album. The trippy keyboard intro, Troy's moody bass, the atmosphere's created by the intro and mid song things get wild with that classic guitar riff. Again, the vocals aren't flat on the floor balls to the wall amazing, but they suffice.
05. "Ghost Of Karelia" - I aboslute loved how this song transitioned live, although for some reason the solo sounded off key to me, it was still performed close to perfection.
06. "Crack The Skye" - Probably the best performed track from "Crack The Skye" mainly due to the fact that there isn't much "singing" going on here.
07. "the Last Baron" - Ahhh the 13 minute epic. Again, love the fact that for how much is going on in this album, the band manage to remember every single riff and every single time and tempo change.
08. "Circle Of Cysquatch" - After a semi-break, the band pick up with "Blood Mountain" era stuff. People will b-tch that they didn't play "Colony Of Birchmen" or "Sleeping Giant" here, but they could have put anything from "Blood Mountain" here and I would have been satisfied. Perfectly executed song, and I dig the vocal effects in the middle section.
09. "Aqua Dementia" - Superb playing and every note was played to perfection. After hearing this song, I really wanted them to break into "Hearts Alive" but instead...
10. "Where Strides The Behemoth" - Honestly not my favorite track from "Remission", but I thought it was another perfectly executed song all around.
11. "Mother Puncher" - Definitely glad they fit this song into their set list because it's probably one of the best songs they ever recorded and they still perfectly do it justice!
12. "The Bit" (The Melvins cover) - Before I heard this song, I had not heard anything from the Melvins and after listening to the original, they definitely put their own signature on their version of the song and I appreciated all aspects of the performance and a great way to close the set. // 8
Overall Impression: Live at the Aragon in Chicago and recorded on October 17, 2009. Not sure of the lineup or who they were playing with. I loved that they played "Crack The Skye" in its entirety with a few back-catalog songs and there's nothing that I hate about this performance, but I would have liked to see more crowd interaction; it just kind of seemed like they went on stage, did their set, and left. Oh, at the very end, Brann Dailor went up and thanked the crowd but that was it. // 8