Fallen Torches

Album: Medium Rarities (2020)

Songfacts®:

  • Mastodon first hooked up with Nick John in 2004 just before their album Leviathan was released. He became their longtime manager, playing a crucial role in the band's success until his death from pancreatic cancer in September 2018. A huge fan of Led Zeppelin, Mastodon released a cover of "Stairway To Heaven" to honor their fallen comrade with proceeds going to the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research in his honor.

    Mastodon recorded "Fallen Torches" as a tribute to Nick John in Atlanta in 2019. They originally planned to drop it as a single in support of a European tour, but amid industry chaos it never got released. Instead they included it on their compilation album, Medium Rarities, a collection of rarities, live tracks, and instrumentals released to celebrate their 20th anniversary as a band.

    "We don't know what really happened to this day," Mastodon drummer and vocalist Brann Dailor laughed to American Songwriter. "So, we were sitting on that song and we wanted to try to at least do a release. So, it was cool to include it on this album."
  • Dailor explained to Apple Music the song title came from the fact that Nick John was their "guiding light," and "Fallen Torches" describes what the band went through after losing him.
  • The song features vocal assistance from longtime tour buddy Scott Kelly of Neurosis. A frequent Mastodon collaborator, other tracks he's joined them on include "Crack the Skye," "Spectrelight,""All The Heavy Lifting" and "Diamond In The Witch House."
  • Instrumentally, this came out of two riffs Dailor had strung together and a couple of riffs guitarist Bill Kelliher had come up with. They then added the huge riff at the end. "We haven't had that kind of riff for so long," Dailor commented, "I was excited to have an actual mosh riff."
  • The psychedelic section in the middle happened after Kelliher accidentally muted the recording's drum track. "I was, like, 'This sounds really f---ing cool,'" Kelliher recalled to ABC Audio. "I don't ever take Brann's drums away without him knowing or asking, so I immediately sent him a file, like, 'Dude, what do you think about this?'"
  • Hey Beautiful Jerk and Machina-Infinitum directed the song's music video, which features Scott Kelly. The trippy clip features an assortment of bizarre, galactic images.

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