By Bob McMahon
By Allison Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By Carolina de Busto
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
What to Expect: The quintet's completely over-the-top stage show sends fan home sticky. Be prepared for buckets of goo, waves of gunk and awesomely exaggerated spiked-armor costumes.
How Many Metal Horns This Show Deserves: 6.
HQ: Mastodon: the ATL (Atlanta). Converge: Massachusetts. High on Fire: Oakland. Dethklok: Mordhaus — the secret base of operations for the Scandinavian-American band. Dethklok represents the twelfth-largest economy on earth in the Adult Swim Metalocalypse cartoon. Metal all-stars recorded the fake group's real debut album, 2007's The Dethalbum, which is the top-selling death-metal disc of all time — and deservedly so.
Best Known For: Mastodon is this era's great major-label metal hope. The dense new concept album, Crack the Skye, crams the entire history of hard rock into 50 minutes and seven tracks, from proggy freakouts ("The Last Baron") to metal-assault drumming ("Quintessence").
Notoriously Known For: Mastodon's working toward the day it can mount massive stage productions to match its sprawling, element-themed albums, such as 2004's Leviathan, which was a raging adaptation of Moby Dick. But until then, it's using its major-label money to mount the gnarliest package tour of the year — possibly decade — with a bunch of their buds.
Recommended Listening: Mastodon, Crack the Skye (Reprise). Converge, the new album Axe to Fall (Epitaph) is a blistering metallic masterpiece, but it's not out until later this month, so you'll have to make do with the post-hardcore volcano that is 2006's No Heroes. High on Fire, Blessed Black Wings, which was produced by Nirvana/Pixies engineer Steve Albini.
What to Expect: Total fucking destruction. Bruised shins, blown-out ear drums, aches & pains, and hangovers that'll last until the Converge album comes out.
How Many Metal Horns This Show Deserves: 6.66