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Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher (guitar), Troy Sanders (bass/vocals), Brann Dailor (drums/vocals), and Brent Hinds (lead guitar).

Photo by Clay Patrick McBride

With a gripping new album and a new direction in their music, the band continues to raise the stakes for what it means to be one of America’s most feverishly creative—and unreservedly beloved—heavy-rock guitar duos.

It’s a chilly night in late November, and the line for ticket holders has snaked all the way around the block. “Wow, that’s what I call dedication!” yells a passerby, marveling at the size of the crowd. Strict COVID protocols are causing delays at the doors to New York City’s sold-out Hammerstein Ballroom, but no one here seems to mind. After all, it’s been more than two years since the four prog-metal horsemen of Mastodon last descended on Gotham. What’s another half-hour in the cold, especially when the payoff is a sweat-soaked live set packed with brand new songs and some of the band’s most feral old-school headbangers?

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Darkest Hour's cofounding guitarist details his brand-new signature ESP V and offers up sound secrets gleaned from producer/singer Brian McTernan.

Facing a mandatory shelter-in-place ordinance to limit the spread of COVID-19, PG enacted a hybrid approach to filming and producing Rig Rundowns. This is the 35th video in that format.

Darkest Hour cofounding guitarist/frontman and one-half of Be Well’s axe pack Mike Schleibaum makes some time after releasing Be Well’s debut The Weight and the Cost to virtually welcome PG’s Perry Bean into his gear sanctuary. In this Rig Rundown, he goes over his brand-spankin’ new ESP LTD signature V, details how (and why) he overhauls all his Les Pauls in the same manner, shows off his mighty Marshalls, and shares a few of producer (and Be Well singer) Brian McTernan’s pedal secrets that turned his standard Pro Co and Boss stomps into era earmarks for melodic metal and hardcore genres.

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Matt Smith’s setup might appear frail, but his disheveled ’82 SG and a half-powered JCM800 ignites a powder keg of melodic hardcore.

Facing a mandatory shelter-in-place ordinance to limit the spread of COVID-19, PG enacted a hybrid approach to filming and producing Rig Rundowns. This is the 29th video in that format.

For over 20 years, Strike Anywhere has carried on the torch from hardcore forefathers Fugazi, Black Flag, 7 Seconds, and Avail. They continued the struggle to speak truth to power through their sabretooth-sharp, politically-rich lyrics advocating for equal human rights, better treatment of animals, downsides of capitalism, oppressive wars, and spotlighting any and all societal shortcomings. And if singer Thomas Barnett’s words are a cocked hammer, the harmoniously aggressive music is the firing pin.

Over the course of four LPs and six EPs, the quintet has sharpened a signature hardcore sound that fuses melody and rage. Drummer Eric Kane’s bed of frenetic blast beats tangles with bassist Garth Petrie’s stinging notes. Matt Smith and Mark Miller (Matt Sherwood before him) provide a pair of slicing-katana guitars. Together they create a supercharged, fist-pumping, anthemic singsong pit party.

Just after Strike Anywhere’s newest EP Nightmares of the West was released (their first new music in over a decade), Matt Smith virtually welcomed PG’s Perry Bean into his home jam space. In this Rig Rundown, the founding guitarist opens up about trying several instruments and pickup combinations throughout the band’s existence, finding more power (and dependability) in a JCM 800 with only two tubes, and explains the slow growth of his pedalboard that once was just a tuner and boost.

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