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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Alluvial's current band lineup is, from left to right, Tim Walker (bass), Wes Hauch (guitar and vocals), Matt Paulazzo (drums), and Kevin Muller (vocals).

Photo by Aaron Marsh

After relocating to Atlanta, retooling his sound, and rebuilding his band, Hauch releases Alluvial's second album, Sarcoma, pushing progressive death metal into new realms of technical ecstasy, while celebrating everything that's dark, extreme, and unremittingly heavy about the genre.

We've all heard the colorful old saw that being in a band is a lot like being in a gang: a path fraught with so many tests of character, loyalty, and us-against-the-world commitment that it's become part of the lore behind everyone from Motörhead to Morbid Angel. Sure, the entire premise might sound a bit sentimental, especially against the doomy backdrop of, say, modern death metal. But when push comes to shove, so to speak, genuine camaraderie and mutual respect have somehow always oscillated at the molten heart of what fuels the ever-thriving metal scene.

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Now five albums deep, Harakiri for the Sky was founded by guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Matthias Sollak (at right) and singer J.J. in 2011. Sollak composes the music and J.J. pens the band's lyrics.

Austrian black-metal magus Matthias Sollak realizes his panoramic vision for Mӕre via cues from prog, shoegaze, and neo-classical.

For all the black-metal bona fides Matthias Sollak has accumulated as a guitarist, his musical range extends into areas you might not expect from a 31-year-old who's been running with headbangers for most of his life. Even during his long stint with Bifröst, the band he co-founded in his native Salzburg, Austria, at the age of 16, he brought elements as far afield as bagpipes, folk instruments, and keyboard samples to a freewheeling and unpredictable sound that helped set the group apart from their self-avowed "pagan metal" contemporaries.

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The new album By the Fire, featuring Moore’s 6-string "secret weapon" James Sedwards, unleashes a psychedelic blast of Jazzmaster-fueled positivity.

Thurston Moore is onstage cranking up one of his signature Fender Jazzmasters to a darkened room at Rough Trade East, London's record-shopping mecca. The space is empty except for a sound and camera crew, there to document a slimmed-down trio version of his band—with My Bloody Valentine's Deb Googe on bass and Jem Doulton on drums—in gritty black-and-white for the livestream launch of Moore's new album, By the Fire. With his adopted city on the verge of another lockdown, and his home country in the throes of a bitterly contested presidential election, the stakes couldn't be more dire. But Moore and his mates aren't there just to shake their fists or chew the scenery.

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