Mastodon
Blood Mountain


4.0
excellent

Review

by Dan Smith USER (74 Reviews)
September 11th, 2006 | 845 replies


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist


So here it is, what could be the most anticipated metal release of the decade so far, and I know what you're thinking... Surely all the hype is bound to lead to dissappointment? Surely Mastodon must've cracked under the pressure of critical acclaim and the move to a major label and not been able to live up to their reputation as metal revolutionaries? Ladies and gentlemen, you are about to be knocked clean off your high horses, as Blood Mountain is one of the most monumental, immense, mind-crushing, skin-flaying, (insert any number of other superlatives here) compositions ever committed to disc.

I feel I should point out here, before I have the inevitable accusations of fanboyism thrown at me, that while I found Mastodon's previous album, Leviathan, to be a thoroughly solid and enjoyable listen, I do not believe it to be the revolutionary landmark in metal that every man and his dog seemed to proclaim it, upon its release, to be. However, having listened to Blood Mountain several times, it is readily apparent that this album deserves tenfold the respect and worship lavished upon its predecessor.

From the very start, the album is incredibly atmospheric. A recent article on the band that I read recently mentioned that the album exudes a mood of desolate loneliness and bleakness, likening it to the atmosphere created by the ever present spooky red sky in early 90s shoot-em-up game Doom. I couldn't agree more with this analogy, as I find it impossible to envision the slow, treacherous ascent of the mountain which the music represents without such a forboding red sky residing above.

Despite this, listening to the album is rarely depressing. Rooted by the frantic, jazz-influenced, and always inventive drumming of Brann Dailor (surely one of the premier sticksmen in metal, a man whose chaotic beats and fills drive and define the music in a similar way to that of Dave Lombardo of Slayer), and characterised by the varied guitarwork of Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher, Blood Mountain is equal parts uplifting and confusing. At various points during the album we are treated to Thin Lizzy-esque harmony riffs and crushing grooves (notably the intro riff to "Crystal Skull"), thrashy rhythms ("The Wolf Is Loose"), epic, haunting build-ups with hints of acoustic guitar ("Sleeping Giant"), effect-laden spazz-outs (instrumental interlude "Bladecatcher"), and beautiful laid back pieces (the sublime guitar harmonies which usher in "This Mortal Soil"). Also notable is the addition of solos and more prominent lead parts, which weren't as pronounced in the band's previous output, but only add to the insane melting pot of sound found on Blood Mountain.

While Troy Sanders' bass does little other than lock in with the guitars and provide a solid backing, his vocals (shared in part with Brent) are more melodically orientated than on previous work, encompassing dreamy melodies and harmonies, strong gruff-yet-tuneful roaring, and also the brutal death-roar we know and love. Such increased scope adds further variation to the album, one of the many results of this being that a sort of stoner-rock feel is occasionally brought to the fore, something the band haven't really touched on before.

Much has been made in the press and internet news items of the collaborations present on Blood Mountain. Prog fans have salivated at the very thought of Cedric Bixler-Xavala of the Mars Volta adding vocals (on "Siberian Divide"), and Neurosis fans have been equally enthused about Scott Kelly's contribution to "Crystal Skull" but to be quite honest, it took repeated listens before I could even pinpoint where they appeared. Only slightly more noticable is the voice of QOTSA frontman Josh Homme, singing a few backing vocals on "Colony Of Birchmen" but still, his contributions are minimal, and the song would still be a distinct album highligh even without his input. To dwell on the guest appearances featured on Blood Mountain is like pointing at the stars and looking at your finger.

However, such is the overall level of experimentation and variation within the songs, that to try and describe every nuance and element of the sounds on display would take up more pages of text than anyone would care to read, but suffice to say, this is the sort of album you could easily get lost in. Even, dare I say it... a modern day "Dark Side Of The Moon"?

In short, this is everything that was expected from Mastodon and more. A thoroughly impressive piece of work which anyone with any kind of passion for heavy metal should own.



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user ratings (3116)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Mikesn
Emeritus
September 11th 2006


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

That was fast...

Modern day Dark Side of the Moond, huh? Perhaps I should re-listen to this. :p

spoon_of_grimbo
September 11th 2006


2241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah, i've had this for about a week, since a guy i know who owns a record store tends to get stuff in early somehow. suffice to say its been on repeat on my cd player since!

the DSOTM reference wasn't comparing musical styles BTW, it was more to indicate that BM is an album where repeated listens reveal more, and thats its way more than one dimensional.

24.05.2008 - In a recent re-evaluation of my reviews, I've changed the rating for this album from a 5 to a 4.This Message Edited On 05.23.08

Intransit
September 11th 2006


2797 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

good work, although I dont think this is a classic. Ive listened to it a ton, and there is still much improvement that could be made. I think I speak for everyone when I say that Im excited to see this bands future.

rustysurf84
September 11th 2006


327 Comments


/sighs and waits.
you lucky bastard.

Hatshepsut
September 11th 2006


1997 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Somehow I have this already. The review made me listen to it and it's playing right now. ****ing awesome stuff.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
September 11th 2006


2690 Comments


A modern day DSoTM? Wow. That's a bold statement.
Very good review - it was nice and focused and ultimately one of your best.

spoon_of_grimbo
September 11th 2006


2241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanx jom. seems the ones i write spontaneously (didn't really plan this one in the slightest) always turn out the best. and yeah i think this album will be looked at by fans of the more extreme end of metal in the same way as prog fans look at DSOTM.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
September 11th 2006


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

This is going to be looked at as more of a A Saucerful of Screts than a DSotM, although this album just barely beats that one out.

diefamous
September 11th 2006


281 Comments


Mastodon is a good start for someone who wants to start getting into metal. It's easier to comprehend when your listening to it, but honestly I don't care much for the band.

Neoteric
September 12th 2006


3243 Comments


Good review, Mastodon are one of the only metal bands I still listen to.

spoon_of_grimbo
September 12th 2006


2241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

diefamous, these have got to be one of the last bands that those new to metal should start on. the strange time signatures, harsh vocals, general heaviness etc. etc. are more likely to put off people who have no earlier experience of metal. just found it strange that you'd suggest that. however, they are one of the best metal bands about, and definitely something that anyone who hasn't heard them should check out.

ToWhatEnd
September 12th 2006


3172 Comments


I need to check this out for sure, nice review.

whatduffhuck7
September 12th 2006


163 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

better vocals in this one. and drums as well.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
September 12th 2006


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

The guitarists are the definition of mediocre. The drummer should learn to play some more rhythm as well, its no fun to hear him go crazy with only a semblance of structure.

Brain Dead
September 12th 2006


1150 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The guitarists are the definition of mediocre. The drummer should learn to play some more rhythm as well, its no fun to hear him go crazy with only a semblance of structure.


What?!?!? The guitarists aren't exactly mediocre. The riffs are technical and the structures are creative, and they have plenty of amazing fills. And to say Brann Dailor goes crazy with no structure just doesn't make sense.


Tyler
Emeritus
September 12th 2006


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I dont know, Brann Dailor is a little overrated, but I wouldnt say he's just going crazy. The guitarists aren't mediocre, they're just not outstanding.

Wizard
September 12th 2006


19612 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Spectacular album, can't find anything wrong with it from a musicians standpoint. Best progressive metal album album of the year. Easily makes my top 5 best releases of 2006!

Digging: Hans Zimmer - Interstellar

spoon_of_grimbo
September 13th 2006


2241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the guitarists are amazing!!! not necessarily in terms of technical skill (although its all pretty solid stuff!), but also in the quality of the riff/lead composition. the heavy riffs are crushing, the epic ones are more atmospherically epic than most bands could dream of being, and the harmonies are perfect, without being overdone.

when are people going to realise it's not all about the shred (i like shred as much as the next guy, but its the not the be all and end all)?!


deathscreamingsheep
September 13th 2006


86 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I don't know, I mean I like the overall composition of the guitar lines and how they reflect the mood of the songs but I don't think they're anything to particularly shout about.

As for Brann Dailor- I think he's fine how he is. It's one of the aspects of Mastodon that I really enjoy.

Scuba_Steve
September 13th 2006


46 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Just for the record, my rating is actually a 5, but the silly limit thing said no.


amazing album, easily one of the best metal records this year.



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