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Mastodon - Blood Mountain CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.73 | 354 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars Climbing Blood Mountain to Crack The Skye

Mastodon's "Blood Mountain" is the album preceding the masterful "Crack the Skye" that put them on the progressive metal map.

The earlier work seems to be heavier and less prog but "Blood Mountain" is a progressive album culminating in a psych prog conclusion.

The album begins with 'The Wolf Is Loose' that utilises trademark power metal riffs that change time signature. The vocals consist of caustic growls and screams. This is one of their heaviest tracks and starts the album on a high note. There are assaults of brutal riffs, duel guitar breaks, and complex effective drumming. A short blast that is technical, fast and progressive.

'Crystal Skull' begins with tympanic African drumbeats from Dailor then an excellent Slayeresque riff chugs along. "Into the black hole, searching for crystal... making the veins bleed," the vocals growl. The incessant riffing are intricate with many time changes. Blazing guitar solos from Hinds and Kelliher and emphatic vocals create a seriously brutal tone and killer speed. 'Sleeping Giant' has even more depth and complexity beginning with a doomy slow guitar motif. There is some harmonic work and a great lead break. It changes pace when the vocals kick in. The track is a definite highlight, very catchy tune and at 4:20 there is a brilliant riff to latch onto and a scorching guitar break. The drums are frenetic at times, a low vocal is used in places and it ends with a jagged guitar and it rings from left to right speaker.

'Capillarian Crest' features more inspired dynamic guitar power riffs to introduce it and then it shifts to a speed metal pace, then changes pace later to launch in to a lead break. It slows again when the vocals resume and feels like a different song. The intricate technical playing is astounding. Guitar squeals break the pace and then it shifts again into a cool chugging riff with screeching vocals and pulsating bass. A weird effect ends the track and transitions it to:

'Circle of Cysquatch', which is a crashing energetic rocker that is more of the fast technical thrash. There is a robotic voice on this and a really brutal power riff, bass heavy and dark composition.

'Bladecatcher' features guitar picking and builds to a chaotic mid section with nonsensical vocalisations, like a metal chipmunk. A crunching onslaught of Hinds and Kelliher's duel guitar riffing chugs along and then a strange effect like a vinyl album played back n forth leading back to the main riff.

'Colony of Birchmen' is a metal track strung along by riffs and time changes but there is more harmony in the vocals. At 3:20 the time sig is very strange with a well executed lead break. A weird effect transitions this to:

'Hunters of the Sky' and this has great vocals and heavy pounding guitars. The verses are repeated over very speedy riffs. It slows at 3:05 into a nice melodic riff that fades into the next track.

'Hand of Stone' is a moderate speed riff heavy track with high register vocals that are virtually screamed. I am reminded of Testament on this track. There are many twin guitar lead breaks and at 3:10 it gets very heavy and fast and then ends without warning.

'This Mortal Soil' begins with phased guitar and acoustic picking. There is a slower mellow pace with melodic vocals. The pace changes swiftly and suddenly. Mastodon are masters of time sig changes, so tight and innovative moving from 7/8 to 6/4 and 8/6 effortlessly. At 3:30 the pace is very fast with Black Sabbath riffing. The dark, ferocious riffs absolutely blaze at 4:10. The drummer somehow keeps pace and drives the track back to the main riff at 4:36. The next bizarre effect segues into:

'Siberian Divide', which is a more aggressive attack with shifts in pace and then a proggy guitar riff locks in at 4:15. Ferociously original metal. 'Pendulous Skin' is a weird experimental psych prog track with some inspirational passages of instrumental virtuosity. It begins with acoustic picking over an estranged spacey effect. A sublime guitar follows and very weird vocals. Spacey, psychedelic atmosphere makes this track a real stand out and there is even a Hammond sound that shimmers and grinds like the 70s prog days of ELP or Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso. The surrealism stops at 5:13 and there is dead silence and we await a ghost track. But there is none forth coming except at the end of about 22 minutes a voice speaks about downloading, "Keep it real". How weird is that?

In conclusion, this is a definite prog metal album to get hold of. Innovative, experimental, technical, original, strange, heavenly riffs and power metal technical virtuosity. 4 shining stars.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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