Mastodon is a relatively new metal band (formed in 2000) out of Atlanta, Georgia. dubs them as progressive metal, and they occupy the slot for 10th most popular progressive metal band. The four band members are Brent Hinds (lead vocalist, guitarist), Troy Sanders (vocalist, bassist), Bill Kelliher (guitarist), and Brann Dailor (drummer). Brent and Troy knew each other already, and met the other two at a High On Fire show that Brent was holding. Brann and Bill had met in New York and both moved to Atlanta three weeks prior to meeting the other two.
The best thing about them is that Mastodon is the perfect name for their sound. When I listen to one of their songs, I am suddenly aware that I'm experiencing the exact auditory equivalent of a mastodon in various moods and motions. Every mastodon documentary should have a purely Mastodon soundtrack. Every twang, squeal, whine, thump, burst, and crash is flawlessly metaphorical in representing thick, shaggy, resilient fur, thunderous, crushing, yet ponderous footfalls, and those solemn, spear-like doom-tusks. Their song "March of the Fire Ants," my personal favourite, is the last thing you hear before a mastodon flattens your puny body with utter indifference and smugness.
If you like thunderheads of guitar plus bass plus drums being complex and melodious while crushing you to death, listen to Mastodon. If you like progressive metal listen to them. If you like mastodons or mammoths (or maybe, and this is probably stretching it, elephants) listen to them. If you like gentle singing lightly placed over a meandering clarinet sonata do not listen to them, because you probably won't like them. Their popularity has led to accusations of them being trendy hipster metal or "mall-core", but those who say that are likely the same people who discern true black metal from false. In other words, their opinions mean nothing. The truth is Mastodon is very popular, but rightfully so.
Here's a discography of their works thus far:
Lifesblood EP (2000)
Remission (2003)
Leviathan (2004)
Blood Mountain (2006)
Crack The Skye (2009)

Lifesblood and Remission do a good job of establishing the band's trademark sound, but they really hit their stride with Leviathan, a concept album based on Moby-Dick. While the album does not exactly match the epic proportions of Melville's great American novel, the story translates well into metal. Blood Mountain is another concept album, though it is an original story by the band. It tells of a journey to the peak of a dangerous mountain filled with mystical creatures. The aim of the mission is to place a crystal skull at the top of the mountain. The inventive tale actually makes little sense but is exciting, detailed, and again, fits the music very well. Crack The Skye is based on an equally strange story, this time involving wormholes and alternate dimensions, and tsarist Russia. Mastodon has quickly established an idiosyncratic style of lyrical storytelling, and Crack The Skye doesn't seem to break the trend.
Mastodon had the honour of performing the opening theme song for the ATHF movie. The song, Cut You Up With A Linoleum Knife, was written specially for the movie and is available on its official soundtrack.

This was written on July 2, 2023, during Twitter's continue decay under Elon Musk's "leadership." Mastodon, an open-source, federated alternative, was presented as an alternative to many people, although much less now. A lot of people bounced off of it, for reasons stated below. This was (before some minor edits) written as a comment in a Metafilter thread, but it was really very long, and only slightly relevant, so I requested it be deleted as a derail. I think it still might be useful for people, and I've been meaning to node more, so I'm putting it here. It is not about Mastodon in general, it assumes you know what it is.

Mastodon is Great, and there's a lot of people who are enthusiastic about bringing as many people on board as possible, because more people generally mean more relevance, but also means the whole shebang is less likely to go away. This puts them into PR Mode, where they emphasize the good points but skip over the difficulties. This has made some people, I've seen, Mastoshy, especially when it comes to signing up. Mastodon doesn't have corporate resources backing it, and so issues get fixed more slowly, issues that would cause someone people, who've internalized the idea that a big company should make everything on the internet, to wonder allowed how this got past Q&A, or joke that they hope someone got fired for some minor inelegance or clunky behavior.

Mastodon is much truer to the soul of the internet, to the Olden Times that gave us Usenet, IRC, FTP, Gopher, Finger, Archie, and other basic services that got washed out of our memory, but also brought us email and the World Wide Web itself. It is gloriously clunky. Its issues haven't been papered over by PR budgets and UI teams. That makes it a bit harder to use, it's true, but it's also honest, in its way? Doing things on the internet is hard. It is possible to think it's a betrayal to have ever pretended that they weren't.

And yet, in trying to get people involved with it, I feel like there are some caveats to Mastodon that aren't mentioned as much as they should, lest they cause someone to go running back to the arms of Big Social. I mention these caveats here because of this, and know that I say them as someone who's an active user of, and is very enthusiastic about Mastodon and the Fediverse in general, that it may be the Web3 we all deserve, and not some cryptobro's NFT-based fantasy. But if someone joins Mastodon on advice from people, but they aren't prepared for how it's different than Twitter, they're really likely to just give up. I've seen it happen multiple times. It's a balancing act, getting people excited about it while being truthful about how it's really different than Twitter and, on a basic level, quite a bit less polished. So, here goes.

1. People say your instance doesn't matter. It really does. If you pick a bad one, you could either end up watching it disappear in a week as the admins come to realize they don't have the time/interest/appetite for drama required--that happened to me. Or, you could watch it get defederated because the admins are asleep and it becomes a source of spam--that also happened to me-- or else, there are others on the instance who turn out to be nazis, and since the admins weren't proactive enough in getting rid of them it became a Nazi Bar. Or else, you could join a community instance, for a specific purpose, under the mistaken impression that it's okay for general use--that happened to me as well! I made the mistake of tooting about my Doordash experiences on and they didn't like that.

It's even possible to be on an instance with a certain tilt, but you're not tiled the same way, and you could get banned yourself because of it. Some places are really serious about alt text on images for the visually impared, and if you forget about it, you will be informed. And, although I've never encountered them, I hear there are places where minorities still get all the grief that they get in other places on the internet. It really sucks when people go back to Twitter because of that, running to the shelter of the corporation, because the current owner of that corporation has made it clear that isn't a part of their New Direction, and it's still unclear if Twitter will even survive under this regime.

2. What happens to your posts over time. People are used to, on Twitter, having their posting history and media sticking around forever, unless they delete it. This is not how it works on Mastodon! Small instances don't generally have indefinite storage for keeping your videos around forever. Instead, older media is deleted as it ages and space begins to run out. If you really want it to survive, you should keep a local copy. This also applies to text posts on Mastodon, but text of course is a lot easier for a server to keep it around for a while.

3. Twitter has serious issues with discoverability. It turns out, tweets that link to outside sites are deprioritized in search and people's timelines, and if you tweet out-of-band too much, having the temerity to talk about things the holy algorithm thinks you aren't about you'll also be penalized for that, and that's not even the end of it. But at least, on Twitter, there is search. There is no way to search the overall Fediverse. What is more, this is by design. I'll get to why that is, but the result is, discoverability is much worse on Mastodon even than Twitter. "Going viral" is much harder, generally: your Mastodon posts might end up being seen by more people, but it's very unlikely to be many as it is possible to reach on Twitter.

4. Why is general search not desired by many on Mastodon? Why did some people harass one poor developer who tried to make it possible, and react with dismay and alarm when they heard Google was looking into it?

The way I've heard it described(, there are two "camps" of Mastodon: the "Small Communities" camp, and the "Twitter 2.0" camp. The Small Communities people were the foundation of Mastodon: they wanted some Twitter-like features, but didn't like aspects of it long before Musk came into power. One of the aspects they identified as bad was, itself, discoverability. It allows people from in their group to be bothered by outsiders. Particularly, it allows vulnerable people to be found and harassed. Many of the people in this camp are themselves vulnerable, and are concerned about making themselves too visible. That is valid. Even if I think ultimately turtling up slows important social change, it is understandable that people might not want to wager their personal safety on that.

The Twitter 2.0 people (which, I should be clear, for its faults, is the camp I'm in) think that discoverability is a positive thing generally. Going viral helps get your ideas out there. All of Twitter's positive personalities, of which there are still many, came about because they were discoverable. This is, after all, the very bedrock of the idea of the internet itself.

The compromise reached so far is to make your posts searchable via opt-in services like tootfinder, but I think there are people who are opposed even to that. The Twitter algorithm, for its manifold faults, does sometimes bring to your ears voices you are interested in but wouldn't otherwise have seen. I think ultimately an algorithm, as a social media concierge, is not necessarily a bad thing, that its faults are largely the result of a corporation controlling it for its own benefit above yours. If you get to pick the algorithm, it might not be so bad. Maybe that could help with Mastodon's discoverability problems. Assuming, of course, you think they are problems.

Anyway. I am supposed to wrap this up in some kind of conclusion, but honestly I don't have great answers, I see the needs of both sides. I can't make a decision! I'm not good at this sort of thing! You do it! It's up to you. I'm passing the buck... to you.

Mas"to*don (?), n. [Gr. the breast + , , a tooth. So called from the conical projections upon its molar teeth.] Paleon.

An extinct genus of mammals closely allied to the elephant, but having less complex molar teeth, and often a pair of lower, as well as upper, tusks, which are incisor teeth. The species were mostly larger than elephants, and their remains occur in nearly all parts of the world in deposits ranging from Miocene to late Quaternary time.


© Webster 1913.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.