19/10/2011 08:22 BST | Updated 19/12/2011 05:12 GMT

Mastodon on Later - Why has Jools Ignored Heavy Metal?

I think I once had Mastodon confused with Mastitis. That was my mistake. Mastodon - a self-described Sludge Metal band - merely causes inflammation of the ears.

However, everything in me swelled up with joy when I heard that the Atlanta quartet were getting their four minutes on 'Later With Jools' on BBC Two last night. Why? They are only the second metal band in the programme's history to play on the show ( the first was Metallica in 1996, and they became the U2 of metal some time ago.)

Hang on a moment. The show, which aims to give airtime to a range of diverse artists, has been going since 1992. In nearly two decades, the genre which boasts Britain's biggest selling music weekly, Kerrang!, the genre which spawned the UK's fastest growing music festival, Sonisphere, and yes, the genre which has the most faithful, if hairiest, of fans - has been ignored.

There's nothing to suggest why Mastodon should be picked as Jools's second Monster of Rock, even if one of their albums was called 'Leviathan.' But like the mammoth they're named for, they've steadily loomed larger on the landscape since they formed in 1999. Both their last two albums have made the Billboard Top Ten and even David Letterman has entertained them twice on his show.

Myself, I'm not such a fan that I'd entertain them in my living room - apart from on the relative safety of my TV screen. So I watched, with glee, as Jools proceeded as if he had a normal knees up in his studio. First up, Canadian country-indie act Feist. An Alexa Chung lookalike, she recorded the original 'Limit to Your Love' which gave James Blake his break. Feist was followed by Ben L'Oncle Soul. Whatever.


Then the first vibrations of Mastodon shook BBC TV Centre. Canteen ladies in the tea bar directly above Jools's studio must have flocked for cover.

The chords of 'Black Tongue' from their new album 'The Hunter' are the musical equivalent of Fee, fi, fo, fum. It's music to torch villages to. Had the Vikings a sound system installed in their long boats, Mastodon would have featured when they needed musical motivation to pillage. We are men, we make fire. No wonder they're on so many video game soundtracks.

The look of intense concentration on the faces of guitarist Troy Sanders and bassist Brent Hinds was rather beautiful. I haven't seen that level of commitment - or facial hair - since re-runs of 'The Old Grey Whistle Test.' They had that air of belonging to another time, another place. The place where men wear leather, have beards, and drink whisky. Tennessee, in other words.

I daresay to many of you at home - those of you who weren't hiding behind your sofa - it was a dirge. Yes, it was face-meltingly heavy. But it was melodic. But I do understand, that for some of you, it was like being thumped on the head with a gong, repeatedly. Certainly Jools tottered across the studio to applaud afterwards like someone had struck him a blow. Then he had a chat with someone with a piano and introduced Bon Iver. Business as usual. Phew.

Perhaps though, there wouldn't be the same level of shock and sniggering if audiences actually heard more heavy music in the mainstream? Sales of metal are the most consistent in the record industry and even Lou Reed has got in on the act, thrashing around like an eel with Metallica.

It'll be an insult if it's years again before another band of this ilk are invited on. Just because Mastodon are named for an extinct behemoth, there's no need to treat the music in the same way.