Review Summary: This is the band's strongest album to date. Just think of Leviathan, but everything on that album has been greatly improved. One of the best albums of the year.
Progressive metal has always had some of the best bands around. You can always look to Dream Theater
to make your jaw drop with shredgasmic solos. You can always depend on Opeth
to deliver a powerful and brutal album with tons of atmosphere and emotion. You can look to Tool
for great and catchy songwriting, while still delivering complex pieces of music. These three bands have now become synonymous with the genre, but they’ve been around for quite some time. The genre has been somewhat dormant in recent years, but now there’s finally some groups coming into, or making a comeback in, the spotlight. Many of you have probably come across Tool
’s new release 10,000 Days
, which certainly dropped jaws. Into Eternity
’s The Scattering of Ashes
is filled to the brim with sweeping solos and catchy songwriting. But this year, one progressive album has been highly anticipated. It’s also been one of the most anticipated metal albums of the entire year.
Of course, it’s this. Mastodon
’s Blood Mountain
has been getting lots of praise from magazines and review sites around the world. Being hailed as one of the saviors of heavy metal is nothing to be taken lightly, but Mastodon
has always been delivering the goods. Since their first album Remission
they have been experimenting and pushing the boundaries of the genre, creating a sound that I really can’t place with any other band. Their first full length album featured superb musicianship, but the production and overall songwriting seemed a bit too chaotic, and left me a bit disappointed. This was all driven away with their possibly classic release, Leviathan
. Featuring much more mature songwriting and even more technical music, this album really showed that these guys were a force to be reckoned with. With such a great album behind them, what was Mastodon
to do? In short, they took all of the positive things that happened with Leviathan and just kicked it up a notch. The technicality is higher, and the songs flow a lot better. In short, it’s awesome.
’s guitarists Bill Kelliher and Brent Hinds have been pumping out incredibly heavy riffs since the beginning, but their sludgy guitar tone and use of baritone guitars often made them seem not as talented as they really are. This album still delivers great, and heavy guitar parts, but sounds much more improved and precise than ever before. One could also find some soaring guitar solos reminiscent of classic heavy metal, crunching breakdowns of hardcore punk, acoustic leads to please the fans of lighter music, and so much more. These two have become so much more versatile than before and have really reached a status that one might have thought was impossible five years before. Just listen to the incredibly technical “Capillarian Crest” for some incredibly technical guitar trade offs from the two of them, and they still make everything in their songs make sense. Check out the bizarre instrumental “Bladecatcher” for catchy clean guitar work, quickly followed by chaotic, yet contained, psycho riffage. These are just mere examples, but every single song features wonderful instrumentation from these two.
Troy Sanders and Brann Dailor, the rhythm section of the band, doesn’t disappoint. Troy brings some sick bass lines to back up the six-stringed insanity, but still plays out just enough to make the songs filled with plenty of fills to delight any listener. The low end punishment in “Sleeping Giant” could bring someone to their knees, and the triple bass and guitar trade offs in “The Wolf Is Loose” is just awesome. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that Brann Dailor is the most talked about member in this band? He’s one of the coolest drummers I’ve ever come across in just about any genre of music. He’s incredibly creative and always is delivering some insane percussion work in every album. Just about all the time you can hear him laying down some great beats, but then will quickly switch to a snare drum fill that might even remind someone of jazz drumming. It’s really unique how he does it, and it fits the band perfectly. In Remission
, however, he did far too many fills, which made the album pretty difficult to listen to. His work on here is more contained, but he still gets to play out quite a bit. Everyone has found their place within the juggernaut that is Mastodon
A few paragraphs ago I mentioned how the songs on Blood Mountain
flow really well. I wasn’t kidding. This album just progresses flawlessly and I can barely ever find a spot in the album that I don’t like. The way the riffs and vocal parts unfold is just amazing and I can always find something new to listen to as the album unfolds before me. The concept of the album is also something similar to power metal, featuring plenty of fantasy elements and classic monsters. “Sleeping Giant” obviously deals with a hulking giant, which sleeps atop a mountain. “Circle of Cysquatch” conveys a message about a terrfying Cyclops and “Colony of Birchmen” has lyrics about a society of fighting tree people. It may seem a bit clichéd, but I personally enjoy the ideas the album has.
So, to wrap everything up, this album really lived up to all of the hype it received this year. The band has finally harnessed all of their skills to create their strongest album to date. All twelve songs on the album offer something new and exciting to listen to, and follow an epic tale to please any headbanger out there. The guitar work has improved a ton since their past albums, as has the bass work. The drumming has become less chaotic to bring the band closer together, but still packs a really mean punch. I can’t really find anything wrong with Blood Mountain
at all. In short, pick it up. It’s well worth your time.
The tracks in a nutshell:
The Wolf Is Loose
- Incredibly catchy songwriting and great bass/guitar work, and it even conveys a punk feel.
- Another really strong song with cool vocal work and pounding percussion.
- Considered by many to be the band's best song. Features loads of gigantic build ups and epic fantasy lyrics.
- Every person in the band just straight up owns in this track. Incredibly technical throughout.
Circle of Cysquatch
- More fantasy lyrics and bizarre guitar riffing. Yet another solid track.
- The weirdest song on the album. It's an instrumental and just unloads many different feelings in a short amount of time.
Colony of Birchmen
- Has the strongest vocal work on the album and more catchy riffs. I wouldn't be surprised if this was a future single.
Hunters of the Sky
- Loads of downtuned guitar domination. Actually starts to get a bit boring in select sections.
Hand of Stone
- Another song that people might consider filler, but it's still got some cool riffs and drum work.
This Mortal Soil
- Incredibly emotional and powerful. The guitar riffs and rampant technicality on here is great.
- Another epic track with more power metal inspired lyrics. Features some more bizarre moments similar to Bladecatcher.
- A closing instrumental track with some nice acoustic guitar work. It's a really interesting and cool way to end the album.
Thor gives this album a 4.5/5