Mastodon – Trainwreck

It may, or may not, (I honestly have no idea if anyone reading this knows anything about me) come as a bit of a surprise that the proprietor of this blog is a huge metalhead, and unfortunately for the parameters of this blog, metal as a genre does not have much to offer in the way of train songs. This song is a notable exception. For those untrained in the dark arts of metal, Mastodon are one of the most popular, if not the most popular, bands operating in the genre now. Since the early 00s they have been churning out a unique blend of technical wizardry and swampy, southern-fried riffage.

Trainwreck is off of Remission, the record that put these guys on the map, and the one that embittered old metalheads always wish the band would replicate. Mastodon would go on to release increasingly obtuse prog-fueled concept albums about such diverse themes as the classic novel Moby Dick, a quest to obtain a crystal skull from a blood mountain, and a time-traveling paraplegic whose soul ends up inside Rasputin’s body (seriously). Though Remission may not be my top album by the band – Leviathan takes the cake there –  it certainly comes close, and its an excellent distillation of the sound that put these guys on the map, and more so than the rest of the discography, it really focuses on the sludgy/bluesy aspect of their sound. Metal purists who maintain that the band lost the plot (in more ways than one), in their later records always hold up Remission as a classic.

As for the song itself, Trainwreck, more so than other songs about train wrecks, has the notable distinction of actually sounding like a train wreck.  The schizophrenic, jazz-inspired drumming of Brann Dailor, always a highlight of Mastodon’s songs, and cascading guitar riffage, really does sound like a train flying off the rails. A stark contrast to the scores of early 20th-century train wreck ballads, that will of course be covered here eventually, but a great train wreck song nonetheless.