For most of my formative years, sans my time in 7th grade, I was pretty much allergic to metal. Although back then the meaning has a significantly different meaning for me than it does now, I essentially loathed all extremely heavy music. Back then, my music taste was also quite undeveloped and I had never listened to much beyond the radio and whatever my dad played for me. Unfortunately I went through middle school and the beginning of high school under the notion that metal was nothing more than Slipknot
. Oh how wrong I was. Now I can proudly say that I do enjoy quite a bit of metal, and that I’m decidedly more open minded toward music. Needless to say, it doesn’t take a metal fan to enjoy Mastodon’s
latest offering and major-label debut, Blood Mountain
As with all of Mastodon’s
previous releases, the sound has not drastically changed. Their brand of instrumentally driven, progressive-tinged, and grind-enthused metal is still similar to everything else they’ve previously done, just a lot better. The musicianship is tighter than ever, showing that Mastodon
is only growing better with age. Guitarists Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher lay down plenty of grinding intro riffs, showing an obvious Dillinger Escape Plan
influence, while juxtaposing them with Iron Maiden
-esque guitar harmonies (see the raucous Crystal Skull
for the best example of this). But Hinds and Kelliher are obviously not just out to rip off every influential metal band out there; they combine some of the most diametrically opposite styles in metal and enthuse it with a bit of space-rock experimental wank, as evidenced on Sleeping Giant
, an epic sounding, mandolin-tinged spacey exploration of Pink Floyd
-esque guitar work and odd sound manipulation.
Of course, you cannot mention Mastodon’s
extreme instrumental prowess without mentioning the absolutely bombastic, pants-soiling, and all around kickass
drumming of Brann Dailor. He is easily one of the most talented drummers in metal today (outside of death metal of course, they still rain supreme for merely speed alone). Dailor is really the driving force of the group, setting the pace for each song. Bladecatcher is probably the best example of his versatility, where he goes from classic metal ala Judas Priest
, to near-grind, all while throwing in some impressive, hard hitting, and high speed fills. Oh, and if the opening drum fill to The Wolf is Loose
doesn’t cause cardiac arrest, you are probably a cyborg.
Probably the biggest difference in Blood Mountain
previous releases is the vocals. Bassist/vocalist Troy Sanders unfortunately had a very stereotypical metal voice on their earlier releases, a combination of a scream and a bark that was almost
made Mastodon’s earlier work unlistenable to my precious little punk worshipping ears. Thankfully, Sanders has recognized that his strengths do not lie in the near-roar that plagued tracks like Blood and Thunder on their previous album. Unfortunately for Hinds however, Sanders’ improvement has only made his slight decline in quality even more noticeable. At times, Hinds almost sounds like a whinier Ozzy Osbourne, something that detracts from the quality of the music, but thankfully is a small aspect to get over.
When all is said and done, Mastodon’s
third full length has proven that they are one of the most innovative bands in metal today. With their unique blend of grinding traditional metal, with an unparalleled sense of melody (in genre, of course, they certainly aren’t Panic! At the Disco
), prog-rock wankery, and some destructive guitar harmonies, Mastodon
has been a favorite of the metal underground since their inception. With Blood Mountain
, they will more than likely appease fans, both old and new, as well as gain a bit of popularity with what is surely the best album of their career thus far.
The Wolf is Loose