Review Summary: In-depth analysis of Mastodon's third album, Blood Mountain
Yes, yes. I gave it a 5/5. Big suprise, right? Well, my justification follows.
Mastodon has not progressed as a band.
Not 1 bit.
Not 1 single thing about Mastodon has been toned or changed. Every Mastodon album is, quintessentially, the same kind of album.
"WHAT?! THIS ALBUM IS NOTHING LIKE ANY OTHER MASTODON ALBUM!!", you might say. Well, that is right, too. From "Remission" to "Leviathan", every album sounds different, while remaining the same in terms of progression.
The reason I say that Mastodon have not progressed as a band since Remission is not one that is hard to understand. The simple fact is:
"Remission" sounds like fire. The harsh, unbridled, exciting sound of the guitars and vocals and drums all bring to mind flames and embers.
"Leviathan" sounds like water. The screaming, evil portions as well as the cool, melodic portions are all perfectly harmonious and bring to mind violent, as well as calm, sea.
"Blood Mountain" sounds like earth. Every song brings about another facet of the earth element with its music, be they molten mountains, hot deserts, or glacier-filled tundras, and the sound of this album is much different than any before or since it.
But, the reason that Mastodons' sound seems to progress is only that every album takes on a theme even more grand than the one before. If Mastodon had began with "Leviathan", it would sound just as it does, and if "Remission" took the place of "Crack The Skye", it would not sound a decibal quieter or more melodic.
Now, after tackling fire and water, and winning with flying colours, they take the next logical step. They challenge earth. And I don't mind saying, they conquer.
The overall feeling of this album is one of climactic storytelling. Songs like "The Wolf Is Loose" and "Crystal Skull" both have incredible hooks, the formers' being the bridge, and the latters' being the main riff. "Sleeping Giant" is one of my favorites from this album. This song manages to retain tons of southern rock.
While most of the songs here are very earth-focused lyricwise, the music seems to be less earthlike and more mythlike. There is more myth here than ever before, with creatures such as the "Cysquatch" and the army of bastard "Birchmen", while the music itself is extremely dirty and earthy. The chunky chorus of "Colony Of Birchmen" gives me the feeling that I am digging my fingernails into an anthill. Almost every riff and drum fill refers to earth elements, rocky or sandy, icy or mountanous.
To be honest, while none of these songs qualify as "filler", most of them have the same type of feeling to them. For example, "Hand Of Stone" and "Crystal Skull" both have similar song structure, and while both are excellent songs, they feel the same. Both songs take place in red mountain terrains, dusty and sandy, hot and dry. "Colony Of Birchmen" and "Circle Of Cysquatch", however, sound more dirty than rocky. These songs seem to be the overtly mythical songs.
"Sleeping Giant" refers to the violent side of mother earth, with lava eruptions and gas explosions. "Capillarian Crest" has the same feel, with its wild riffage. Most of the songs tell the story of the album, which I haven't really got a grasp on, while sounding, as I said, like earth.
The songs themselves are very complex. The best riffs are found in songs like "Crystal Skull" and "Hunters Of The Sky", while the best guitar licks are omnipresent in "Capillarian Crest". The main hooks are also in "Capillarian Crest", which has both catchy vocals and a great technical acheivement in the bridge. You will also find yourself humming the verses of "Sleeping Giant", which features some of Brent Hinds' finest 'drawulling'. "Hand Of Stone" also has a hauntingly melodic section, that certainly qualifies as a hook. "Bladecatcher" is probably one of Mastodon's best instrumentals, which feels like a video game boss battle with its "step climbing" guitar parts and fret-tapped licks. "This Mortal Soil" probably has the most beautiful melody of the entire album, and the vocal effects are to die for.
The thematic elements are very important, too. "Wolf Is Loose" is a great opener, building up the energy that follows with the entirity of the album. Because the album tells a story, every song follows a chronolocal order that is set mainly do to the feelings of the music, as well as the vocals. "Siberian Divide" is meant to be a climactic showdown, and this song is definitely the coldest on the album. "Pendulous Skin" is Mastodon's best acoustic song, and it's quite a great singalong, too, with its great electric solos and wonderful singing. It is definitely the greatest closer the album could've had.
Crystal Skull: Awesome guitar parts
Hand Of Stone: Great riffs and vocal lines
Sleeping Giant: See above
Capillarian Crest: Almost an eargasm
Colony Of Birchmen: One of the best, just listen to it
This Mortal Soil: Great melodies and guitar parts, as well as singing
Pendulous Skin: Nothing wrong here