Mastodon and Red Fang at Sentrum Scene in Oslo, Norway

When I found out that the mighty Mastodon planned a club gig in Oslo, I lept into action immediately and got hold of a ticket. I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing the band in a smaller venue as they’ve preferred bigger gigs when they’ve visited these shores; festivals like Roskilde, Hove, Norwegian Wood, and support slots on tours like Unholy Alliance. When the support act was revealed to be Red Fang, it just got better; the Pacific Northwesterners are one of the most exciting young bands to surface in the wake of Mastodon.

Red Fang took the stage, shook hands with each other and then went on a mission to convert the audience to their fiery brand of heavy metal. They were in top form from the start and shot into action with a setlist that focused on both of their two records. The band has been virtually unknown in Norway—with the exceptions of their fun videos on YouTube—but that didn’t seem to bother them. Song by song, they won the crowd over. “Prehistoric Dog”, “Into The Eye” and “Malverde” truly felt like blistering hits from a band we’re bound to hear more from in the coming years.

After a brief intermission for beers and a pee, the stage was set for Mastodon and their magnificent molten metal. The setlist was a perfect mix of The Hunter and classic tracks from previous albums. Brent had slipped and hurt his leg a few days before—it seemed it was in a cast—but he still shredded like a man possessed. The rest of the band didn’t disappoint either: Bill was a honed sabre, Brann an expertly brutal blacksmith of battery, and Troy stalked the stage like a raging troll of doom.

The visual show was never flamboyant, but still set the mood for the gig. The light show bathed the band and the surfing crowds in green, red, blue and white and gave me a sense of those southern swamps and creatures we find on The Hunter.

I imagine some fans longed for “The Wolf is Loose”, but even though I feel that the song is one of Mastodon‘s best, I never felt the setlist suffered. When the band stormed through the new thunder from The Hunter and mixed this with blistering songs like “Capillarian Crest”, “Megalodon” and “Blood And Thunder”, it felt like the gig of the year.

There wasn’t a traditional encore to speak of; instead, a sound sample set the scene for Troy’s bass intro to “Creature Lives”. But as the rest of the band followed, it became apparent that this would be a little treat for the crowd. The members of Red Fang joined onstage for choir duty, and brought the house down with their collaborative conclusion.

Setlist:

Dry Bone Valley
Black Tongue
Crystal Skull
I Am Ahab
Capillarian Crest
Colony of Birchmen
Megalodon
Thickening
Blasteroid
Sleeping Giant
Ghost of Karelia
All the Heavy Lifting
Spectrelight
Curl of the Burl
Bedazzled Fingernails
Circle of Cysquatch
Aqua Dementia
Crack the Skye
Where Strides the Behemoth
Iron Tusk
March of the Fire Ants
Blood and Thunder
Creature Lives

~Mats Johansen

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