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Mastodon: Blood Mountain

It's finally here, the follow-up to Mastodon's acclaimed 2004 release Leviathan, and the band's major label debut on Reprise/Warner Music Group. Blood Mountain is a fantastic metal release from a band that is just thriving with creativity right now. While it's still early to judge whether Blood Mountain is as groundbreaking an album as Leviathan was, it's certainly a continuation, as well as a departure, from the sounds heard on that stellar album.

For one, Blood Mountain is less brutal than either of its predecessors, which for many might indicate the dreaded "sellout" since signing the major label deal. It's not that the songs here are not heavy-they certainly are. The vocals of bassist Troy Sanders and guitarist Brent Hinds are just more melodic and less gruff this time around. Whereas in the past these two bridged the gap between brutal hardcore and growling death metal, on Blood Mountain the norm is mostly gravelly rock and metal styles, certainly more melodic than ever. Musically, the band is more complex and more progressive than we have heard them previously. We all saw this coming on Leviathan, but the band has definitely dug deep into their prog roots here. Just listen to the amazing interplay on "Capillarian Crest", a wild romp through dizzying guitar patterns, speedy, bone crunching riffs, and blistering drum fills. The crusher "The Wolf is Loose" could easily have come off of Remission or Leviathan, and along with "Cycle of Cysquatch" are two of the more brutal pieces here, with rampaging riffs and Brann Dailor's mesmerizing drum work. Weaving guitar lines from Hinds and Bill Kelliher run rampant throughout "Bladecatcher", a sort of King Crimson-meets-The Dillinger Escape Plan romp that is a real winner save for some annoying blurred vocals which sound really out of place. Other highlights include the thick guitar sludge of "Hunters of the Sky", the shuffling tempo of "Hand of Stone", the dreamy yet complex prog of "This Mortal Soil", and the mix of melodic and harsh tones on the atmospheric "Siberian Divide".

The band's hard core fans might have issues with a song like the closing track "Pendulous Skin", which is a very psychedelic, progressive piece, very much in the style of Pink Floyd. It's just another example of the avenues that Mastodon takes on this latest album. While there seems to be a shortage of those "killer riff monster" songs that were in abundance on their first two albums, this one definitely is more intricate, more daring, more progressive, and more varied. Is it better? That's for the listener to decide. Some may say the band has softened since signing their big deal, but overall there's a good possibility that Mastodon will expand their audience a great deal with Blood Mountain.

Track Listing
1. The Wolf Is Loose
2. Crystal Skull
3. Sleeping Giant
4. Capillarian Crest
5. Circle Of Cysquatch
6. Bladecatcher
7. Colony Of Birchmen
8. Hunters Of The Sky
9. Hand Of Stone
10. This Mortal Soil
11. Siberian Divide
12. Pendulous Skin

Added: October 28th 2006
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Mastodon Website
Hits: 4031
Language: english

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Mastodon: Blood Mountain
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-10-28 12:38:08
My Score:

With the Relapse Records release of Leviathan, Mastodon proved they were a band capable of breaking ground when others fear to even try. Leviathan would be an album that was as monstrous in sound as it was in name. The epic release was based on the Melville novel "Moby Dick" and with it the group took strong footing in a Metal scene that was blossoming once again after many years of being stagnant. The group's move to Warner Bros. led to some to believe that the major signing would come at the sacrifice of some of the artistic integrity that made Mastodon special in the first place. They worried that a new recording would have them find a different Mastodon from what they experienced previously. The assumption would be correct as on Blood Mountain Mastodon brings to light just how much change one can offer the listener without sacrificing any of their impact, their musical prowess and overall delivery. Blood Mountain is a surprise right off the bat with wilder than ever drum patterns by Brann Dailor who is holding the riffs of Brent Hinds together as the other members pummel and reshape the style of the band. Dailor stands out in particular all over the record and makes the level of play demonstrated a thrill ride that is best experienced loud. Technically exciting, this is an album that pushes the limits of the genre by daring to become almost a Progressive/Experimental endeavor based on the amount of unique rhythms and styles that are delivered here. You will find this most prevalent in songs like "Capillarian Crest" and "Cycle Of Cysquatch" which are among the best offerings on the album as well. Don't expect the sheer brutality that you found on Leviathan as its not here, but instead Blood Mountain offers the listener five times the musical exposition and shows that the group possesses advanced musical skills. The level of technical display shows advances in musical growth and I feel this will raise Mastodons level of appeal in the minds of fans of more Extreme Technical Metal. The use of Progressive elements will help raise the musical minds of listeners who love the Metal but as years go on might find themselves needing areas of change.

I have to inform that not every track is thunderous and intense as will be found on the closing number "Pendulous Sign". This track owes more to Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett than to Kerry King and once more it shows just what you get from being a fan of Mastodon. It's a brave way to close an album, and while it might annoy some fans who only want Metal destruction, I do think that they will be pleased with the overall results on this new recording. Thanks to Mastodon and Blood Mountain we are once again shown how much can be done with the genre and how accepting the normal routine is so unacceptable. It's exciting to be listening to Metal when bands like Mastodon are delivering it.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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