johnny of the Well

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Blood Mountain Concept Explained

I was reading the lyrics of Blood Mountain and thought about the concept ras a whole. The general understanding is that it's about a hero who takes rthe Crystal Skull to the top of Blood Mountain, but here's a more detailed rinterpretation, not perfect but hopefully helpful
Blood Mountain

The Wolf is Loose: The hero is given his mission by the gods ("the hero of the gods"), and is also made into a werewolf. This may seem unlikely at first, but when the lyrics ("The crossing of the threshold", "Howling on", "take on form"), the title and the context of the other songs are taken into account, it makes sense. There is hope of him ridding himself of this curse if he succeeds ("Returning to the form of natrual human's fate"). The song implies that the hero is reluctant and has no choice in whether or not he attempts his quest ("Refusal of Return", "rolling on winds of tyrants") and mentions dangers that he will face ("Fierce lore of fanged horn/Danger all the way"). Finally, "the ice will thaw" is a reference to Siberian Divide, which ties the start and end of the album together nicely.
Blood Mountain

Crystal Skull: The hero goes into a cave to find the Crystal Skull ("Into the black hole/searching for crystal"). The hero initially seems to fail, as he ends up "falling short of gauntlet/covered in blood-sucking flies", but he "tore a path screaming through wind and blood" and finds the skull. The skull is described as "the source of consciousness, alive", and has a negative effect on the hero's sanity (along with being a werewolf), as it is "burning deep in my skull". NB the hero has not yet even started climbing Blood Mountain itself.
Blood Mountain

Sleeping Giant: This is the first that we see of Blood Mountain itself, as the hero approaches it, it erupts ("Earth has burst, mountain flames") and burns both the hero and the surrounding land ("Head scorched brow, perish the land"). The eruption eventually stops, and the mountain becomes "a vast calm wilderness", and the hero starts climbing it by the "infinite path cut with unrivaled skill". The song also refers to his mental problems with the crystal skull, describing its controlling force as a "Father snake" that has "left its nest", resulting in "mind control"
Blood Mountain

Capillarian Crest: This was easily the hardest song to interpret, so go easy on me. The word "capillarian" refers to the hero's heart, and the song describes the hero's mental battle, or battle over his heart, in detail, since "Cosmogenic cycles/Universal dreams" describe the effect that the Skull has on him, "Take away the anchor/Amplify the mystery" shows that he is having some kind of spiritual journey, "We will climb to bestow our trust" reminds us of his aim to get to the top of the mountain, and "carve out your soul" show the toil that the journey is taking on him. Finally, the "Capillarian/Gone away" part at the start either shows that the hero is losing heart in his quest or hints at Colony of Birchmen and the "My heart's gone away" section
Blood Mountain

Circle of Cysquatch: The hero meets the Cysquatch, "A race of one-eyed beings all feared and shunned" that are denizens of Blood Mountain. They have one eye and can see into the future. My guess is that the hero sees/steps into a circle of Cysquatch and is shown an image of the future ("Circle cyclops image"), which is that the Cysquatch will be free of Blood Mountain and able to leave once the Crystal Skull has been placed on the top, therefore implying that they are bound to Blood Mountain
Blood Mountain

Bladecatcher: Either signifies a mental breakdown or the band just fucking around with crazy distorted sounds. Go figure.
Blood Mountain

Colony of Birchmen: The protagonist meets the colony of birchmen, who are a race of people made out of trees, hence birchmen. They converge on the hero, as "The forest is growing faster than I can tell" and "white faces coming closer with every step". In order to save himself, he transforms into a werewolf to fight them off; "carve my teeth out ripping through the sheep's head curse", and the "my heart's gone away" part shows how the transformation leaves him ferocious and inhumane. The "run with death" chant that appears throughout the song describes their struggle.
Blood Mountain

Hunters of the Sky: the hero transforms back into human form and finds himself confronted with the hunters of the sky, which are described as "sharks in the sky", which probably means that they are similar to dragons or griffins or some other aerial predator. The hero doesn't stand and fight, but resorts to "running faster than I ever have", seeking "shelter from sky"
Blood Mountain

Hand of Stone: The hero walks through a forest and finds a strange plant that is described as "Nature's fire", and as "the poison rose" in This Mortal Soil. For whatever reason, he eats the plant ("The need for temptation", "Chew on the root that gives us sight") and discovers that its "venom stains the lips and burns the tongue with vengeance and hatred". This causes him to fully embrace his werewolf attributes as a gift from the gods and a "hand of stone/arm of strength" in its power. He also becomes more vindictive ("kill the shepherd/just to see his face") and then starts to hallucinate ("falling through brain field/heading for divide"), which leads to the events in This Mortal Soil
Blood Mountain

This Mortal Soil: Quite a lot happens here as the hero hallucinates under the effects of "the poison rose". He reflects on some of the past episodes (the Cysquatch: "Circle" and the Birchmen: "Ancient elm", "made of ash"). He also sees a "woman possessed", who warns him that he is getting dangerously high up ("The atmosphere that floats above the earth is corrupt for man"). She also warns him of what may happen if he succeeds in taking the skull to the top of Blood Mountain, as she is "reflecting on the duties held" by the hero and predicts that "oceans morph to dust" and "bolts of light flash", implying that if the hero completes his mission, he will bring about some kind of apocalypse.
Blood Mountain

Siberian Divide: This is the so-called finale, and I think it works very well because it ends the story on an unexpected and ambiguous note. The hero nears the top of Blood Mountain and the land becomes very snowy. Then an avalanche/blizzard starts as the "ice god shakes the earth", causing the "destruction of the path". The hero gets frostbite and "blackened hands, swollen fingers, frozen jaw" and resorts to self- cannibalism to stay alive ("warm teeth wrapped around my wrist", "chewing bone"). As he fights to stay alive, he becomes lost ("no direction known") and then witnesses strange lights in the sky ("solar storms erupt"). As this is happening, he hallucinates again and sees a "snow queen" with "ice lips". He eventually finds a "three-horned face/pillar of red" that is probably the image from the cover artwork, which may or may not mark the top of Blood Mountain. As he carries on, the Crystal Skull starts to act weird ("shining skull"). It is never actually stated whether or not he places the Skull on the top of Blood Mountain, but it is implied that he did, since "think I felt the end of time"; this could refer to the apocalypse mentioned in This Mortal Soil. However, it is also likely that the Skull lighting up gives the hero the strength and willpower to carry on, as it "starts to warm the empty climb", in which case he doesn't actually reach the peak of Blood Mountain within the album. The third possibility is that he dies, and "the end of time" refers to his life and "warm the empty climb" means that he feels content with his journey, knowing that nothing will matter when he's dead. Finally, in a plot twist, the line "evil lurks atop my crooked spine" reveals the intentions/motives of the god(s) that send the hero on his mission, as it solidifies the implication that This Mortal Soil raises over putting the Skull on top of Blood Mountain bringing about the apocalypse, or an equivalent.
Blood Mountain

Pendulous Skin: No lyrics, just slurred speech. If you believe that the hero dies, it could represent his ascension to the afterlife. If not, it's just a mellow closer.
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