Review Summary: An album of class that has to thoroughly combed and searched through in order to fully comprehend what this album is.
Picture this: it’s 2004. Metal, while being in a state of health, is lacking the spit, the bile, the bite of decades past: in the '80s, the thrash metal phenomenon took over with Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax and most importantly, Metallica. In the '90s, bands like Machine Head, Tool, Dream Theater and Sepultura made their mark with their musical definitive statements. But in our current decade, there was nothing that had truly stamped it’s mark as being a truly great album.
simply came from out of nowhere and provided Mastodon with at least the one truly stellar album they needed to establish themselves as a great band and a brilliant showcase of this decade. So how did they top it? Blood Mountain
, in all due respect to Leviathan, has blown everything out of the water.
kicks off with the pulverising The Wolf is Loose
. It doesn’t let up, in both heaviness and quality, and a deceptively simple guitar riff, backed up by a tight rhythm section, is transformed into a true highlight. You can’t help but be disappointed, then, when you can find no other songs of this fashion, other than Circle Cysquatch
that really appeal as a truly heavy and devastating song. But fear not, because although Mastodon do these kind of all-out songs well, it’s not what they’re best at.
The previous point is proved after listening to the frankly strange Bladecatcher
, an instrumental that you wouldn’t know was an instrumental, with all the weird guitar effects that make it sound as though Troy Sanders (bass/vocals) or Brent Hinds (guitar/vocals) had some kind of facial spasm during the recording of this song. Capillarian Crest
soon bounds out of the catchy, simple riffs that make the introduction to introduce the flurry of notes that soon follow, showing the progressive style that Mastodon can integrate so well into their stoner metal-rooted music. Crystal Skull
also stands out well, providing more progressively mental highlights, especially when the screeching vocals enter before the solo. Finally, Siberian Divide
shows just how well Mastodon meld progressive with stoner metal, with the lush vocals of the verse soon giving way to a harsh chorus, while the guitars of Hinds and Bill Kelliher (guitar/backing vocals) and drums of Dailor provide a beautiful backing section. And the rather rocking Colony of Birchmen
, works both in and out of the album’s context, and would be an excellent addition to any hard rock album, with a simple yet catchy riff, accentuated by a beautiful guitar solo and some gorgeous clean vocals that truly make this an album highlight.
And then, Mastodon are able to prove their musical worth through the gentler tones of Sleeping Giant
, which show that although they may own the records as a bunch of hairy prog fans rocking out, their more mellowed out approach should most definitely not be ignored. This Mortal Soil
is more beautiful than heavy, and Pendulous Skin
is a worthy closer of this absolutely storming album. While the guitars are definitely the showcase and focus of these songs, you can’t fault any of the musical talent of the four Georgians on these songs, or on any song from this or their back catalogue.
But, as with any other album, it has its downfalls. Both Hunters of the Sky
and Hand of Stone
, while not being terrible, can’t match up to both the preceding and following songs. They still work in this context, yet they can’t escape the feeling that they feel bland and uninspired, save for the rather catchy riffs that introduce both songs.
On a more positive note, you couldn’t find more apt musicians of this day and age to create such an album. Not only do Mastodon have the musical talent to make this work, but they also have the song writing ability and vision to make it work, especially Brann Dailor; his style of drumming is practically revered throughout the metal industry, and on that note, Sanders, Kelliher and Hinds are hardly inept at playing their instruments either, putting in a brilliant effort to make this album provide the aural background to their science-fiction/progressive dream.
In closing, you probably couldn’t find a more atmospheric, well-fleshed out album of this quality; every time you listen to it, you’re literally swimming in the atmosphere, and each time you dig in deep at the cracks and walls of what makes this album what it is, you can find out little things about the album you never noticed before, or weren’t paying attention to, and that’s what makes this album so good; it rewards you for continuous listens, and yet it’ll still be able to reach out and show you something you like about metal, even if you only dip your toes into the ocean that is Blood Mountain
Final verdict: 10/10
An album that deserves to be devoured by music fans, no genres or generations excluded
- The Wolf is Loose
- Sleeping Giant
- Capillarian Crest
- Colony of Birchmen
- This Mortal Soil