Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What sound does a Mastodon make?

Mastodon's band members Bill Hinds and Troy Sanders (both to the right of Borat) have always dedicated themselves to looking as scraggly and unkempt as possible. While on stage, guitarist Hinds can often be seen stabbing himself in the chest with his lengthy, stiff beard while headbanging. And singer-bassist Sanders refuses to keep his hair in any organizable manner, with rigid, sweaty locks jutting out every which way. But still, they manage to push through to the mainstream, going as far as being nominated for a Grammy, and appearing on Conan O'Brien. Yet not even on their MTV do they tidy up, performing "Colony of Birchmen" alongside Queens of the Stone Age singer Josh Homme, who did vocals on the original track.

To my dissapointment, the performance didn't do the song justice, and the chorus to me sounded more like yawning upon first hearing it, rather than the harmonic and soulful piece I first fell in love with on the original track. And someone should wake up Josh Homme, because nobody could be so passionate about singing for someone else's band, that they would keep their eyes shut the whole time while performing. Especially at an award show they weren't nominated at, and a crowd so unenthusiastic as MTV's.

On the other hand, the music video for the song has become one of my favorites and makes up for whatever crappy performances they could have put on afterwards. The video features masked tribesmen who I assume are the "Birchmen", roaming the woods as their masks smear and blend into the surrounding nature.

Watch more Blood Mountain videos on AOL Video

Now, though growing ridiculously long beards has been a common practice through metal history, Mastodon may actually take influence from a more historical figure rather than just their musical predecesors. While browsing through their merch, I saw a very unique shirt that I would be tempted to buy, but too shy to actually wear. The shirt features a heavily bearded man displayed on the front, with the band name written out in the strands of his facial hair. The description explained that the picture was actually of a "Russian mystic" known as Rasputin.

Epic t-shirt.

Troy Sanders and Rasputin himself. Anyone else see the resemblence?

Being Russian myself, I was shocked that I had never even heard of him, and proceeded to do a quick search on Wikipedia. Upon seeing actual photos, I realized that he actually looked quite familiar, and I had seen these same images on an album cover. The album cover of Type O Negative's Dead Again, to be specific, which also spells the album name in English using Russian letters. This is done in the same style as the Borat logo, which if read by a "Russki", would spell "vordt".

Rasputin, who rose to fame during the early 19th century, was a respected prophet and mystic believed to have healing powers. He served as a great influence to then Czar Nicholas II, and caused major political controversy during his years in St. Petersburg. In 1916, he was poisoned, shot to death, and disposed of in a frozen river by conspirators. His genitals, which were reportedly dismembered from him during the assassination, are now being displayed in a jar at an erotic museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, though skeptics claim them as fake. These days, in addition to being mentioned in Mastodon's newest album Crack the Skye, the Russian legend can be seen in Rasputin: The Mad Monk (portrayed by Christopher Lee, now more commonly known as Saruman) and in Rasputin: Dark Server of Destiny (played by Alan Rickman, aka Severus Snape).

Speaking of erotic museums, a Chinese city is planning to open the country's first erotic theme park. "Love Land", in Chongqing, hopes to get rid of sexual tabboos in the strictly communist country. And in Beijing, the Chinese have opened a "spy museum" exhibiting espionage technology, such as guns concealed as lipstick and other gadgets. The only catch is that foreigners are under no circumstances allowed; only those with a Chinese citizenship are granted access.

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