I grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, King Crimson, Henry Cow amongst others. Have continued to listen to KC as they developed/progressed.
More recently been into Radiohead, Muse, Tool, The Mars Volta.
Blood Mountain initially struck me as a deranged cross between later heavy King Crimson and the post-punk metal of Motorhead. It's a sound I couldn't have even imagined in my youth. It's the sound of my youth's future.
At first, I could only grin widely at its over-the-top power, precision and inventiveness. Some bits made me laugh at Mastodon's sheer audacity and confidence. Now I know the album I'm struck by its tunefullness, its harmonised riffs, and its moods/atmospheres. And its over-the-top power, precision and inventiveness.
This album inspired me to go off on a Mastodon hunt of their previous releases, which was fantastic!
Like their critically-acclaimed previous album Leviathan, the first three tracks offer something different but still just about accessable to the interested listener. Then track four on both albums takes you to Planet Mastodon itself. Things become seriously deranged and interesting!
Blood Mountain probably works better than Leviathan overall, which is probably a good thing if a band has a "prog" label. They certainly don't want to make the same record again, a similar set of songs to tour with. They want to expand, explore, progress, push themselves. Leviathan has got some fantastic songs on it, but overall the quality of the songs on Blood Mountain is probably more consistent. They're all equally wierd/interesting in different ways.
I haven't got a clue what the various labels used these days mean (grindcore, stoner doom, etc) but if these mean something to you, then fine.
If you're not hung up about musical genres you'll probably find something to like here. It's committed. It's serious. It's playful. It's still making me grin and also it's becoming one of my favourite albums ever!
(I also love Opeth's "Ghost Reveries" - more single-minded and majestic, and The Fall's "Reformation TLC" - a punk band who were never a punk band after all)
Mastodon is the rarest kind of metal band -- a really brilliant, creative one. No posing or nu-metal appeals for radioplay here.
And after their previous brilliant albums, they reached a new apex in "Blood Mountain." The Atlanta band spins songs about a beautiful, icy land -- played in a sonic eruption of kinetic instruments and some brilliantly mythic lyrics. It's a fiery, breathtaking ride.
It opens with rapid-fire drums and a squealing guitar, with a hoarse voice shouting, "The hero of the gods/The crossing of the threshold!" But the music soon uncoils into a fast-moving hard-rocker, full of blistering riffs and surreal lyrics about gods, shapeshifters, tyrants, heroes and "hulder folk and fairies."
Then we break into the tribal drums and blazing, sludgy riffs of "Crystal Skull," which is just begging to be air-guitared. And they don't let up in the songs that follow: the darkly epic "Sleeping Giant," metal with nimbly catchy melodies, sludgy hard-rock that blazes with muscular basslines, and expanses of roaring prog-metal that races by at light speed.
No ballads. No interludes. Sure, some of these songs open with some electronic squiggling, or maybe a mellow guitar melody, but they don't take long to explode into something totally different. The only exception is "Pendelous Skin," the very last song on the album -- it's an atmospheric blend of slow-burning rock played in a more alt-rocky style.
But up until then, it's nothing but rapid-fire, headbanging proggy-rocky metal. Sludgy and/or muscular riffs, smashing bass, and blindingly rapid drums that have to be heard to be believed -- and the whole thing is tightly woven out of different styles. And this is all to make story-songs with complex, intense melodies that can change in midsong -- from epic metal to chaos, and back again -- to reflect whatever is happening.
And the world Mastodon is exploring in this just reeks of fantasy and old legends -- nature gods, wilderness, icy lands, skulls, tree people, ivory towers, one-eyed monsters, more skulls, and ancient elms. I have no idea what they're trying to communicate, but their songwriting is definitely atmospheric ("A vast calm wilderness/The call to adventure comes/Lead and land atop this rock/Infinite path carved with unrivaled skill...")
Mastodon's "Blood "Mountain" is a devastatingly, frighteningly mythic experience, like wandering through an ancient legend. Here's hoping this band only gets better with time.
on 31 August 2006
Diverse is the way to describe this beast. It has definitely progressed the band and the music has evolved into a less driven, grinding form to a more fluid chugging and rythmic sound. It reminds me in many places of Ol' Nessie and has some beautiful touches. You can certainly feel the Stoner roots and also elements of prog (dare I say it). The guitars are sharper and have more treble, the bass gives rythm not thunder and the vocals are less scream/shouted for the most part but are quite abstract in their way.
Mastodon are extremely deft musicians and it is very apparent on this new album. Tempo and time changes are seamless and you get the feeling they could easily play all of this live as the are no obvious knob twiddles going on!
All tracks stand out but it is the bizarre almost Faith No More influenced Capillarian Crest and the wied Hawaian guitar beginning to the song Blade catcher followed by what can only be described as demented scratching and then a great solid mogodon riff which whirls and flies like a wounded hawk with really no vocals!
A superb album which cannot be genre typed or pigeonholed. Heavy but groovy..a must have!
on 22 January 2007
This is the first metal album i've bought in years and boy am i relieved that i found it. recently, i began to feel that metal was letting me down. metallica seem to be dying a slow death, motorhead and iron maiden are STILL releasing albums better than the new bands, and the likes of bullet for my valentine and trivium don't quite cut it as proper metal bands, instead appealing to the emocore crowd.
then blood muountain came along. the pure ferocity of 'leviathan' had originally put me off Mastodon but seeing such good press coverage of the release (including radio 1) i thought it was time to regain the faith. quite simply this is a top 5 of my collection record. it is bewildering, beautiful and heavyier than almost anything out there, perhaps more similar to metallica's '...and justice' (in idea if not quite sound) than anything else. 'Concept' albums may not be my cup of tea usually, but mastodon pull it off with ease, creating a huge cinematic sound actually rivalling the grandeur of instrumentalists Pelican. lyrically 'blood mountain' sometimes struggles under the weight of the story it tries to tell, but fear not, it creates a dark violent atmosphere that makes the cheesy 'dungeons and dragons' approach of the likes of Dragonforce look like a joke.
as you might expect, this record does need a fair few listens all the way through, but that deoesnt stop it from hitting some simple, short crowd pleasers, especially 'colony of birchmen' and the 'wolf is loose'.
overall then, without doubt a contender for one of the albums of this decade, and i'm not just talking about metal. get it now...just look at the price!
on 21 December 2006
As far as I can tell the concept behind the album is this- Hero is looking for the crystal skull, he has to traverse a forest and climb a mountain whilst fending off attacks from Birchmen (uhdunno), (were)wolves and one eyed sasquatches that can see into the future. When he finds it he collapses from hunger and cold, an icequeen appears and tells him to eat his own flesh, which he does, then he sees god giving him strength to carry on; placing the skull at the top of blood mountain and melting all the snow. Got it?
The album itself is a technical masterpiece. Drums, guitars, bass and vocals all work together to create an extremely heavy sounding composition. I actually wouldn't call it 'metal' as such, I don't think that is enough to describe what is going on here. If anything it is almost what you would expect from a horror/suspense movie sountrack, just that its performed with the instrumentation that you would find in any rock band. It would certainly lend itself very well to the instruments in an orchestra. Often the music will change styles in piece so you can go from a slow bluesy 'jam' to extremeley fast paced chaos. A lot of the songs have many different parts and can be quite eclectic almost like Jazz instrumentals which is helped in no small part by the excellent drumming reminiscent in places of Buddy Rich.
This is an excellent work by one of the most under-rated bands around, it has pride of place in my collection and hopefully you will agree.
Blood Mountain is an absolute gem; it is likely this album will be the 'Master,' or 'Reign,' of this generation. I love all Mastodon's work, but Blood Mountain is a whole other level !
Every one of the songs from the Catchy Singles 'Crystal Skull,' and 'Capillarian Crest' (check that fantastic vocal performance) to the epic and beautiful 'Sleeping Giant,' and 'This Mortal Soil,' are astounding.
The production is better, the vocals are better and the songwriting is better, The artwork is awesome and the free DVD is a great bonus, with more footage than just the episodes on their website.
This album feels like a classic, like you've owned and loved it for years... perhaps thats because of the stronger classic rock influences on display, or perhaps its because it is one of the best metal albums ever written.
Guest appearances from Josh Homme (well they do love Kyuss ((Mother Puncher ?? anyone ?)) and toured with QOTSA) and Cedric and Ikey from the Mars Volta as well as a reappearance from Scot Kelly make it an interesting listen also.
Brann Dailor is one of the worlds finest drummers and gets to flex his muscles a lot here, not just with how complex he can be, but also with fantastic subtle rolls and gentle playing also.
The Vocals are a lot more layered and well, Awesome... they sing a lot more (which I love, as they do it very well) but when they go Metal, they do it with a Great Fury.
The concept is also pretty damn cool... 'climbing a mountain to find a crystal skull which when inserted into the character's own head at the top of the mountain... will free him to undertake the next stage in human evolution,' or so the DVD would have you believe anyway.
I can't stress enough what an awesome record this is... in every way from the bass and guitar, the vocals and drumming... the lyrics and concept, the packaging and presentation... the production... the great guests; Everything about this is great.
This is defiantly album of the year for me... in fact its the best thing I can think of in like 20 years.
Buy Buy Buy !!!!!!
on 10 May 2007
I bought this album, based on the recommendations on the Amazon site and was glad that I did. As there are several other reviews, I will attempt not to repeat other comments, but will probably fail in that!
I have found it a real "journey" of an album - you do not get the standard, "chorus - verse - chorus - verse" song structure that you get with most other bands. Can you sing along to it? Well not for me after 6 or so listens! Does it challenge you musically? Definitely. What sort of music is it? Prog metal? Well, in my opinion Yes, Marillion, Tangerine Dream, et al fit into that space; and if you really like them you might well struggle with this album.
I started seriously collecting music in the 80s and 3 bands keep coming back when I play this album - Skyclad, Sepltura and Sabbat.
If you dig this album, then check out - Skyclad's Wayward Sons of Mother Earth, Sepltura's Roots and Sabbat's History of a Time to Come. I always end up playing those albums soon after and the links are the strongest I have found.
Based on that, I would contend that if you need some form of label, Speed, Industrial, Thrash would probably loosely fit. There was a phase in these genres in the early 90s when the challenge was just to play as fast as possible and ignore the lyrics/melody/meaning (pick 1 or all!) completely. This is definitely not the case here. Take the melody in Colony of Birthmen (track 7). It makes me want to pick up a guitar every time - but that could be dangerous whilst driving, so I refrain...
I have got something different after each listen and I suspect that I will continue to get something even after 50 listens.
Money well spent in that case, in my book!
on 18 December 2006
This album is pure genius!! Every song is just immense!! Brutally heavy!! Insanely technical!! But always catchy as hell!! Bladecatcher is pure instrumental mayhem with an amazing guitar line that goes in, out, up, down and round and round. And the riff that drops halfway in to siberian divide, pure genius!! How it's taken someone this long to write that riff is beyond belief!! I tend to ignore the lyrics with mastodon albums cuz they don't make much sense, but when the vocals are so good who cares what they're saying! Album of the year?! In a year full of amazing albums it could just top the lot!!
WARNING! Excessive volume will cause ASBO's unless your neighbours love mastodon!
on 4 May 2007
Let's get a few points cleared up before we start. I bought all of Mastodon's albums when they came out and thought they were good slabs of crunching metal, but nothing seemed to click if you know what I mean. All that changed after I saw them live.... They were about the best band I've ever seen, full of power great musicianship and I then suddenly 'got it'. Blood mountain is one of the top ten must have albums to own before you die, powerful,catchy,with meaningfull lyrics and a sound all of their own. This has set the standard for all other metal bands and what a high standard it is , which can only be a positive thing for the metal fan. Mastodon, catch them live at any cost and I asure you will be a fan forever.
Blood Mountain, Mastodon's third studio album is a simply amazing record. When this came out, it was like a revelation, many directions hinted at on the band's earlier work were now fully explored and the vocals were cleaner and clearer for longer and longer sections of the songs than ever before.
The powerful and brooding `Sleeping Giant,' and the upbeat and supremely enjoyable `This Mortal Soil,' would have been a little out of place on Remission, but somehow the band have adapted their sound so that these excellent songs feel completely justified and do so without sacrificing what made Mastodon so vital in the first place.
Everything about this album is outstanding, from the production, artwork and songwriting to Bill and Brent's complex and interesting guitar work. There is basically nothing to complain about on the near faultless record, truly a rarity for any album.
Troy and Brent's vocals are really excellent on this album, a huge improvement was made in preparation for this album both with their clean and heavy voices.
Brann Dailor's unique drum style has always been a huge part of Mastodon's appeal and it is great to see that even with the change in direction the band had taken, Brann was still able to fill the album with truly virtuosic and inspirational drum work, from complex beats and furious lunging tom rolls to the powerful almost post rock tom build ups on the more progressive numbers.
Guest vocal appearances from Josh Homme on `Colony of Birtchmen,' and Cedric Bixler Zavala on `Siberian Divide,' (although you could be forgiven for thinking his contribution was actually a synthesizer on first listen) prove the icing on the cake.
The Mastodon school of concept album writing has always been to write songs about the concept, rather than telling the concept directly to the listener through lyrics and Blood Mountain is no exception.
Highlights include concert favourite `Crystal Skull,' the punchy and entertaining `Hunters of the Sky,' and the aforementioned `This Mortal Soil.'
Blood Mountain is an absolutely essential album, easily one of the best metal albums ever recorded and no Mastodon fan should ever be without it.