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Mastodon Debut (Slightly) Mellower Epics at Bonnaroo

June 15, 2008 11:39 AM ET

Unlike Metallica last night, Atlanta's Mastodon showed off some killer new epics from their forthcoming album due out later this year. For the new tunes — one of which was titled "Quintessence" — the group was joined by a keyboardist, who added some swelling, blippy atmospherics. Brent Hinds, who typically squalls and shrieks, even changed up his singing style, showing off a relatively mellower croon that works. But make no mistake: these new tunes were classic Mastodon, with Hinds, Bill Kelliher and Troy Sanders showing off interlocking riffs that shifted from mellifluous elegies to deep guttural grooves over drummer Brann Dailor's masterful time-shifting beats.

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Song Stories

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

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