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Mastodon - Blood Mountain CD (album) cover

BLOOD MOUNTAIN

Mastodon

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal


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5 stars Welcome to Blood Mountain.

Mastodon are back with their latest release, the follow up to their masterpiece in the eyes of many, Leviathan. A great deal of the metal community, and of course their fans in the prog community were worried about their major label signing, and just the idea of trying to top Leviathan. I am very glad to say that all the worry was for naught, Blood Mountain is easily the album of the year IMO, and another jem from Mastodon. A slightly rougher edge, cleaner vocals, great concept, better production, and amazing song structures make this an album you can't afford to miss.

This album starts off with a sonic slap in the face, coming to us in the form of "The Wolf Is Loose". A very strong track, and typical of Mastodon, a great way to open an album. Next comes "Crystal Skull" with some additional help in the vocal department from Neurosis' Scott Kelly. The next track is definitely my favorite off of the album, "Sleeping Giant". Sleeping Giant starts off with a wonderful melody, and even some acoustics, which gives way to a mesmerizing mini-guitar-solo. The song is filled with beautiful melodies, passionate vocals, and even a little spoken word at the end. Simply put, this song has been on repeat for the last week.

"Capillarian Crest" and "Circle of Cysquatch" follow, both definitely beefing up the heaviness. Then comes "Bladerunner". At first listen, I had no idea what to think of this instrumental. It might weird you out a little at first listen, but don't skip it. After a few listens I was loving it. There are some absolutely crazy effects that at first feel out of place, but definitely grew on me. And the guitar work itself is just great, some wonderful slightly Southern-sounding riffs, cascade around you the entire song. Definitely not a track to miss.

"Colony of Birchmen" is another favorite off the album. Some added vocals from Josh Homme and some great riffs definitely make this a favorite. Then come "Hunters of the Sky" and "Hand of Stone". Both are good tracks, but to me they don't quite live up to the rest of the album. I was a little turned off, but everything was righted by "This Mortal Soil". A beautiful piece with wonderful guitar work and excellent vocals. Also not a track you want to miss.

"Siberian Divide" is an amazing track and one of my personal favorites from the album. Wonderful lyrics center around the desolate climb of the frozen section of the mountain. This track is a killer.

And to finish it off is another instrumental "Pendulous Skin". This track has a very "Hearts Alive" feel to it, and again the guitar work is just amazing. Definitely a beautiful mellow track to finish off what has a been a decidedly thrashing album. Mastodon close this album with what would be a flourish, if there wasn't about 15 minutes of blank space that my CD still plays. No complaints here, as it gave me a little time to reflect and say goodbye to Blood Mountain.

In conclusion, Blood Mountain is a just astounding. No one can pull off such an epic concept and diverse sounds quite like Mastodon. While this may in the long run fall just a little short of Leviathan, it is still very much up there IMHO. Yet another masterpiece.

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Send comments to lightbulb_son (BETA) | Report this review (#93528)
Posted Thursday, October 05, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Mastodon was called the next big thing in metal when they released Remission. Mastodon was called the new Metallica when they released Leviathan. Now they have a new album, an even better album then their other albums and I'm yet to see what titles there is going to next. The new Beatles? Perhaps even the new Beethoven? But one thing is true, they are good. Mastodon is really freaking good! And again they haven't let me down. The good thing about Mastodon is that they can be very high tech but still have some feeling with their songs. Bands like The Fall of Troy, Deadwater Drowning and other semi-hardcore acts can sound very technical but I don't feel anything with their music while with this band right here the music sounds a lot more heartfelt and I think that's a great thing. I might be the perfect combination between sludge (Isis) and hyper technical [&*!#] (Dillinger) but I simply love this music.

But on to the album. Blood Mountain is a lot more (god I hate that word but I'll say it anyway) mature. Their music calmed down a bit since Remission. They are still very intense but instead of the crazy rhythms and screams everywhere they are actual true songs here. Actually they started with this process on Leviathan but on a very different way. The singing is very different and the songs progress a lot more than on Leviathan. Also there is a lot of variation here, some songs are absolutely over the top intense like "Bladecatcher" and "The wolf is Loose" and some are slower and are a lot more stoner like "Sleeping Giant" and "This Mortal soil". They are intense as well but in a very different way, I mean that in a sense that they are absolutely beautiful. The new vocals add a lot to the music and give a very epic feel to everything and I think they are much better than the singing on Leviathan. Instead of the screaming there is more singing in low-key. They also featured this on some songs on Leviathan but they are a lot better here and a lot more present. Another big aspect on the new album is that there are solos! Hurray! I'm a sucker for guitarsolos and I think a solo can improve a song and put it on another level. All in all this is a very different album while still being Mastodon. The band has evolved and it's a very good change, there are a lot of sludge influences and also some prog. The guest musicians Scott Kelly from Neurosis, Cedric Bixler from the Mars Volta and Josh Homme from the Queens of the stone Age don't really at a lot to the album but aren't annoying.

Mastodon themselves said that they made albums according to the elements. Remission was Fire; Leviathan was water and Blood Mountain of course earth. Now I'm a sucker for concepts as well so I'm pretty anxious about the wind album : ).

Originally written for Musicmademe.com

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Send comments to Jochem (BETA) | Report this review (#93529)
Posted Thursday, October 05, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars A great album, a true masterpiece of modern prog metal. Mastodon has basically become the Opeth of America. The mix of clean/growl vocals strikes the same chord in me that it did when I heard Akerfeldt do it. Keep in mind, the actual sound of the vocals is much different between Mastodon and Opeth, but the basic idea of clean vs. growl is present in both and is done very well by both bands. I could write a lot of positive things about this album, but the bottom line is that if you like metal and you like prog, you need to get it. I will mention a couple of things that I don't like about it, mostly because I think no review is complete without some criticism. I have two issues with the album, both due to weird vocals. One is the strangely processed vocals on part of "Circle of Cysquatch", which are a little irritating to my ears. Secondly, much more disappointing, is Cedric Bixler-Zavala's guest appearance on Siberian Divide. That otherwise great song is marred by his multi-tracked ear-piercing vocal line in the chorus. Now, I LOVE Mars Volta, yet I can't stand Cedric here. Despite these two flaws, this is still a five star album. As I said, you can't afford to pass it up, unless you hate metal.

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Send comments to enteredwinter (BETA) | Report this review (#93540)
Posted Thursday, October 05, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars After seeing the confusion this guys made with Dream Theater and seeing this album good ratings i decided to give this them a try. To be honest, i won't even try their other albuns. The progressiveness of their music is restricted to boring and annoying musicianship. Poor lyrics, weak vocals (the clean and the growl ones). Originality? For sure they have. Never heard anything like this before, but its not a incredible originality that makes you think " Wow! I never thought someone could come up with a sound like this!" it's just a weak composing progressive metal/hardcore band for me with a very annoying and confusing sound. Mastodon is the american Opeth? Of course not!!! Mastodon is lightyears behind Opeth.

This is one of the albuns that doesn't make me want to listen the rest of the bands works nor the same album again.

Weak... very weak and too overrated.

4/10

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Send comments to Benjamin_Breeg (BETA) | Report this review (#93634)
Posted Friday, October 06, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another very strong album from Mastodon. Once agian they've managed to up the musicianship and diversity and produce one huge record. While Leviathan had pretty much one coheisive sound, Blood Mountain finds the boys experimenting with multiple styles that range from Power metal to hardcore, math-metal, full blown prog, and blues. Highlights include The Wolf is Loose with its chaotic drumming, Capillarian Crest, and Siberian Divide. This is definitely aa good an introduction to the band as any of their other albums and should appeal to ANYONE that like's metal.

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Send comments to xenuwantsyou (BETA) | Report this review (#93640)
Posted Friday, October 06, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Mastadon simply is not my style. Personally, I find one of the most facinating parts of music (and especially in Prog) the vocals. They really capture you and bring you into the song so much more. Look around at the other Prog vocalists: John Anderson, Peter Gabriel, even the harder acts have a James LaBrie or a Bruce Dickerson. Mastadon just doesn't quite fall into the same category to me. Overall the album is a solid effort though. Highlights are Sleeping Giant, Capillarian Crest and most of all This Mortal Soil. After hearing how great this album was in an article of a guitar magazine I subscribe to I thought I'd give it a shot. Unless you dig nu metally type progressive, don't get this. If you do it'll probably be one of your favorite albums (and you should probably read the other reviews, as it'll give you a view closer to your own; mine's just for the others)

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Send comments to proghairfunk (BETA) | Report this review (#94075)
Posted Wednesday, October 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
1800iareyay
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Mastodon had a lot riding on Blood Mountain. The previous album, Leviathan, was a smash in the metal community and the pressure fro tehfollow-up was compounded by Mastodon's signing to Warner, a major label. Thus, fans of the underground were ready to pounce on the band for selling out. Mastodon responded by releasing what may very well be the metal album of the year for 06. The band once again makes a concept piece, this time about the quest to get a crystal skull from, you guessed it, Blood Mountain. Even mainstream rock "experts" Rolling Stone are lavishing praise on this. Fans of Mastodon or newcomers who like bands such as Trivium will most likely love this album, but those who cannot stand screams should steer clear.

There is little filler on this disc. Tracks like Capillarian Crest, Siberian Divide, and Sleeping Giant don't let off the throttle and add all sorts of dizzying turns. Once again Brann Dailor is the centerpiece of the band; his highly technical drumming decides which direction the bvand will take throughout their songs. The album closes with the mighty instrumental Pendulous Skin, which recalls Hearts Alive in its splendor. The guest musicians don't really contribute a whole lot but the don't detract from the album. I do wish that Josh Homme had made more significant contributions, though.

Blood Mountain is the the third of a proposed four concept albums dealing with the elements of the ancient world. The next album will deal with wind, and perhaps they'll do the fifth element after that. Fans of heavier metal will enjoy this album, but old-schoolers might want to skip this Atlanta quartet.

Grade: B+

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Send comments to 1800iareyay (BETA) | Report this review (#104151)
Posted Friday, December 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Mastodon's third album is without a doubt the album of the year for 2006. This band has been called the new Metallica by many metal publications, and I have to agree. There has not been a metal band as exciting and groundbreaking as this since the glory days of Metallica in the 1980s.

This band is a beautiful blend of thrash style metal and progressive rock. The riffs are outstanding and the musicianship is jaw droppingly good. Drummer Brian Dailor is in fine form here, cementing his spot as metals premier drummer.

This is one album with absolutely no filler, songs like 'The Wolf is Loose', Sleeping Giant' and 'Colony of Birchmen' are instant classics. A modern day classic.

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Send comments to Vatreni (BETA) | Report this review (#104640)
Posted Wednesday, December 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Mastodon have created a fantastic brand of prog/tech metal and this would be my number one metal record of 2006. There are no weak songs, but obviously some stand out more than others.

Best Songs--- The Wolf Is Loose: A blistering opener with fantastically manic vocals - 10/10 Crystal Skull: Follows strong with lethally addictive vocal work - 9/10 Capillarian Crest: One of the contemporary tech-metal masterpieces.... some seriously intense guitarwork - 9/10 Colony of Birchmen: Fantastic main riff, and consistent throughout

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Send comments to Siberian_Khatru (BETA) | Report this review (#116501)
Posted Tuesday, March 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars THE FUTURE OF METAL!

Mastodon are a band with a very unique, very big sound.The name is apt. Powerful, driving guitar lines, growling vocals and most importantly, fantastically complex, fast drumming full of bulldozering rolls that are the real driving force of the music.

The drumming of Brann Dailor is nothig more than fantasic and is by far the best drummer in the metal world, no doubt about that one. Just listen to the drums and you can hear that its alive and so thight that I often only focus on them when listenting to Mastodons albums.

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.

Blood Mountain is Mastodon's finest work to date, an epic album of power and creativity that pushes musical boundaries while still staying true to Mastodon's sound.

If you've any interest, whatsoever, in rock music in any of its subgenre forms, you need to afford Blood Mountain some considerable attention

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Send comments to Kid.A (BETA) | Report this review (#118388)
Posted Saturday, April 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Until I'm writing this review, I still don't understand why this band which I consider as pure metal band has been featured here. But I don't want to create debate pn this subject. Just to let you know on why I purchased this CD, it was due to: 1.) my metalhead friend praised highly this band and according to him as he quoted from "Metal Hammer" magazine he said "Mastodon is the future of metal band". 2.) I really wanted to expand my metal horizon by purchasing some metal albums like DragonForce, Van den Plas, Helloween, etc. 3.) Printed locally, so I could by at local price (approx USD 6.7 per CD).

As a matter of viewing this album from metal point of view, metalheads must be proud of having this band around as they write and perform good metal music. The opening track "The Wolf Is Loose" (3:34) blasts off with dynamic drum work at intro part followed with loud metal music. The music offers a good combination of vocal and guitar, rhythm section of drums and bass. Guitar provides excellent solo throughout the song. "Crystal Skull" (3:27) follows the style of previous track, performed fast in heavy rhythm section. "Sleeping Giant" (5:36) starts with relatively long instrument piece using guitar as main melody. The music moves into vocal line with higher and heavier composition. "Capillarian Crest" (4:25) brings the music up with faster tempo and music with packed composition. Guitar continues to provide good solo during transition pieces.

"Circle of Cysquatch" (3:19) starts with distorted guitar solo followed with dazzling drum work which then brings the music into fast tempo style. "Bladecatcher" (3:20) starts with guitar fills in the vein of King Crimson's Adrian Belew guitar style. The music follows in a fast tempo. "This Mortal Soil" (5:00) is another good metal music. "Pendulous Skin" concludes the album with NOT a 22 minutes duration but apprimately 5 minutes. It's recorded and printed by mistake, I believe.

Overall, as far as metal concern, this is a good album especially for those of you who like heavier part of rock music. Keep on rockin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#121043)
Posted Monday, May 07, 2007 | Review Permalink
The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Ok, it didn't work. So let's go back to the traditional format.

Last year this album was mentioned in a lot of posts in the forum as one of the best albums of 2006, and some even heralded it as a masterpiece of prog-metal. Of course I felt compelled to buy the record to see if the music lived up to the hype. I already had experienced a disappointment with the choice for Album of The Year, so my fears about this particular album weren't completely unfounded. And then I heard it.

First, let me say it right away: if you listen to music from a certain perspective, this actually could be heralded as a masterpiece. This is metal, really hard, heavy, violent metal, but played with the utmost precision and with excellent technical skills. We hear echoes of bands like Messhugah and Death here and there, and that would be a good way to describe the music: a mix between technical metal (with just hints of death metal) and of that violent, hammering music that Messhugah delivers, but with a lot of original elements. There are also hardcore influences here, for sure, and even some industrial-metal sounds (which for me isn't too good). The music, extremely violent at times, does never lose precision nor coherence, and it's easy to tell each song from the other. There are a few (in caps: A FEW) moments of something resembling melody in the album, and there are bits where the singer actually sings. The guitar playing is very interesting, as is the drumming which never lets us down. I can see why the bad is here in PA, as there are a lot of instrumental passages, songs connect with the others with a smooth, rational flow, but that's about it.

If you like more melodic, tuneful metal, then BLOOD MOUNTAIN can't be heralded as a masterpiece, as the violence crushes everything in its wake, melody one of the biggest casualties of this musical war. As I said before, another one of the elements that I don't particularly like are those that remind me of hardcore and industrial metal, as I pretty much can't stand any of the two genres.

About the progressiveness, this is not the place to discuss such matters, but let me say that this is one of those albums where, one second you can find arguments in favor of its being categorized as prog, the next minute you can come up with 5 other reasons as to why Mastodon isn't prog. I don't have an answer myself but I have a saying in the rating I give to any album I review, so, in that light, I would say that Mastodon's latest is NOT a masterpiece, but if you look at it from a different point of view, it CERTAINLY CAN BE. Let me clarify that: for violent, ultra-heavy music, this IS a masterpiece, as everything works so perfectly and there's even room for some actual music here and there; but for rock music in general, and for what I think and like, this is too violent and there's not enough melody.

3 stars. I can't go higher, but I also can't go lower.

Recommended for: Fans of extreme metal with "brains", fans of violent metal, fans of Messhugah, and open-minded prog-rock fans that can withstand a vicious musical attack.

Not recommended: People that like melodic music and who can't stand extreme noise and a relentless attack on their eardrums.

.if you listen to this album, blood won't be coming from a mountain, but from your ears.

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Send comments to The T (BETA) | Report this review (#123197)
Posted Wednesday, May 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Best song: Sleeping Giant Highlights: The Wolf Is Loose; Sleeping Giant; Colony Of Birchmen; Hunters Of The Sky; Siberian Divide; Pendulous Skin

Mastodon's 2006 album is, in my humble opinion, not only their best (yet) but also one of the best progressive metal albums ever. With "Blood Mountain", the band continues to perfect what seems to be a mixture of death metal, jazz and classic symphonic prog. It goes without saying that the playing abilities of these four gentleman are way above the regular musician. Of course, the honourable mention goes, as usual, to the exquisite drumming skills of Mister Dailor, who always delivers his goods fast, accurate and tempo-perfect. The album starts with "The Wolf Is Loose", an up-tempo ass-kicker that you can almost call it a classic Mastodon album opener. Then follows "Crystal Skull", which is a perfectly decent metal song but in the context of the album, with the quality standard set by the other songs, it ends up being a bit of a let-down. The third one is one of the most prog songs ever done by Mastodon (in the classic sense of the word), with its complex intro, the string quartet and the coolest vocal melody. Songs 4 and 5, "Capillarian Crest" and "Circle Of Cysquatch" respectively, are both competent metal songs, although they don't have the usual "jam" structure that Mastodon usually use (and which I prefer), having a more common rock structure. Then we have the odd "Bladecatcher", with vocals paying homage to Mr. Bungle. The song is crazy and cool, the only flaw being the fact that it sounds a bit to emo-ish for my personal taste. The second part of the album is a bit more melodic and epic, containing a good song ("This Mortal Soil"), three great songs ("Colony Of Birchmen", "Hunters Of The Sky" and "Siberian Divide") and another great instrumental coda ("Pendulous Skin"). "Colony Of Birchmen" is very melodic and it's one of the best vocal efforts of the whole album. "Hunters Of The Sky" has a really mind-blowing intro and "Siberian Divide" features a cool collaboration with Cedric Bixler-Zavala, of Mars Volta fame. The last song, "Pendulous Skin" is really beautiful, with great keyboard guitar interplay and a very funny message by Queens Of The Stone Age's mentor Josh Homme. The album is a great piece of music, with some of the best ever done by Mastodon. Some people argue that this is not progressive music and to that I can only say that, to me, a prog band only has to do intelligent and complex music. Concept albums and long songs are just an after-thought.

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Send comments to mobber89 (BETA) | Report this review (#132196)
Posted Tuesday, August 07, 2007 | Review Permalink
russellk
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is a very strong metal album, but lacks the outstanding compositions that would have elevated it to the top echelon of the genre.

Fearsome technical skill is becoming more and more common these days, and with BRANN DAILOR this outfit have a supremely skilled skin-smasher. The rest of the band aren't too bad either. What is too bad is that too many of these tracks don't go anywhere: 'Bladecatcher' is an example of this, an instrumental without purpose, an album-filler. On the other hand, 'Sleeping Giant' is a genuine rib-crushing classic. Slow, extremely heavy, grinding the listener into the granite like a slab of BLACK SABBATH. 'The Wolf Is Loose' represents an excellent stab at a more commercial track. 'Colony of Birchmen' overflows with riffage, and 'Pendulous Skin' is a more than competent instrumental.

There's definitely a whiff of progressive sensibility here, but not much more. MASTODON is not a typical metal band, and neither is it a DREAM THEATER clone. They have been compared to OPETH, though it's not a comparison I'd make myself: OPETH'S compositional skills are far greater than those exhibited here. Definitely a band for fans of the sub-genre, though I'd imagine many proggers would enjoy 'Sleeping Giant'. Along with 'Leviathan', 'Blood Mountain' is MASTODON'S best work.

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Send comments to russellk (BETA) | Report this review (#137720)
Posted Tuesday, September 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars OK, clearly not an excellent addition to any prog music collection, but a great one to any progMETAL collection.

As a big fan of metal, definitely not just progressive, i consider Blood Mountain a masterpiece, but it might not appeal to fans of Dream Theater, Queensryche or so, but fans of Opeth, Isis , Atheist or Death should definitely give it a try. Mastodon's music is quite extraordinary blend of progmetal, Death metal, Tharsh metal Hardcore punk and Jazz. While they introduce some tricky rhytms and dissonant melodies, there are still a bunch of jaw-breakingly heavy riffs. The first two tracks The Wolf Is Loose and Crystal Skull are both fast and angry eruptions second of them featuring some rather jazzy drumming. The record calms down on the third track Sleeping Giant which begins with an silent instrumental section but soon develops into quite bizarre heavy ending. The next song, Capillarian Crest is Mastodon's most progressive so far and the weird time signatures combined to virtuosic playing make it one of the best tracks on the album. Rest of the album exept the beginning of This Mortal Soil and the peaceful ending, pendulous Skin is quite angry and straightforward extreme progmetal, but not once song lacks nuances, unlike Meshuggah for example.

Recommended to all fans of innovative metal

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Send comments to delirium (BETA) | Report this review (#157842)
Posted Saturday, January 05, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars The record can be described in one word: primal. It is seems to be about beasts, savagery, totemic symbolism, shamanic incantations, lycanthropy, and man's struggle against nature. So it is a concept album, with something vaguely like a main character, and something vaguely like a plot. The lyrics usually don't have a meter or rhyme, and come out in a 'stream of consciousness'. They're not amazing, but they're effectively affective.

The guest musicians reveal a lot about Mastodon: the vocalist of Neurosis, two members of TMV, and Josh Homme (King of the Desert, Lord of Hemp and 'Shroom). Mastodon is not firmly in the progressive camp. It is a metal band, influenced by progressive, hardcore, sludge, and groove metal. High-testosterone riffs interweave with psychedelic passages (the main character is starving and hallucinating). Occasionally Mastodon goes melodic, and you can even sense the smallest bit of country twang in a few songs.

As everyone knows, the instrumentation is mind-blowing. A friend of mine described his progress on learning the Colony of Birchmen guitar solo thusly: It's really f***ing hard. And of course, Mastodon's drummer has been elevated to musical godhood.

The music hits you at the gut level. Every track is entertaining, and the riffage entices you to rock out.

I wish the rating system was not so esoteric; but this album is not going to be every prog fan's cup o' tea, and so it deserves a 3. Fans of tech/extreme and even experimental/post metal should buy it. It offers a bit to psychedelic fans, too. There's some stuff that folks from the American South can appreciate (Mastodon's members acknowledge their love of some country music). But the music is not entirely made from the prog-rock palette, and thus I give it a 3 in the best possible sense of the number.

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Send comments to Hirgwath (BETA) | Report this review (#162582)
Posted Sunday, February 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
Moatilliatta
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Mastodon has got to be the most alluring band in metal. They have an awesome name, some of the greatest artwork out there and they have great album/song titles. Blood Mountain is a name that demands respect, and demands to be heard. Even if you don't like the music, how could you not find that to be an amazing album title? One of my best friends is disappointed with himself because he can't get into an album with such a fantastic title. You all should be too, three reviewers above me who rated this album with only three stars!

So anyway, Blood Mountain is the third album in a series of albums dealing with the four elements by Mastodon. Yet another awesome piece of art on the cover, and yet another set of awesome songs by a unique and constantly improving band. I remember buying this thing on its release date, coincidentally the same date as Amputechture. My best friend and I wanted to be able to sit down and savor all of the greatness that was to be found on The Mars Volta's album, so we threw this one on in the car to rock while running the rest of our errands. I'm not sure why I underestimated this album, but we were unexpectedly leveled by the sheer force of this thing right from the start. Brann's opening drum fill on "The Wolf Is Loose" leads into a crushing slab of awesome for 50 minutes. With as abstract and perplexing as Amputecture ended up being, Blood Mountain turned out to be the real treasure of the day. For the first four songs, I felt like this was going to be the greatest metal album ever (you'll note I said something like this about Beyond Twilight's For the Love of Art and the Making as well). Sadly, the album didn't hold that same level all the way through, and while the aforementioned Volta album grew over many listens, unveiling another masterpiece, Mastodon's is more or less a face value album, and didn't do any growing after 2-3 listens. However, if an album is darn good from the start, it's still darn good after repeated listens.

So, restating what I said earlier without the short, fragmented recount of my personal experience with the album, the first four tracks on this album are fantastic. The cerebral, heavy and fast metal discharges of "The Wolf Is Loose" and "Crystal Skull" get your adrenaline rushing out. "Sleeping Giant" is the first experiment on the album. The band keeps the tempo low [for them] and delivers a dynamic and, at the end, quirky song that is really quite cool. As usual, Brann Dailor's drumming commands the music, most often with his spastic, strangely rhythmic seizures. But as we see first with this song, he can keep a mean single beat as well. Those builds and pounds are so full of power! The final song in that "fantastic four," if you will, is "Capilarian Crest," which contains the coolest, most fun riff the band has ever written, and it is so good, it warrants that almost ridiculous number of times they repeat it.

"Circle of Cysquatch" is a solid track, but after the first four it just doesn't stand out. "Bladecatcher is a quirky instrumental that revolves around a set of riffs that get repeated twice, after a nice, clean intro. The songwriting does sound a bit immature here. The lines are repeated exactly and very mechanically. They sound cool, but the song as a whole is undeveloped. "Colony of Birchmen" is another highlight, featuring guest vocals by Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age. He is one of three guest vocalists on the album, who, unlike guest vocalists on other album, sing backups. This song is also a new style for the band, and it rocks hard! "Hunters of the Sky" and "Hand of Stone" are good, but forgettable tracks (truthfully, I still forget what these songs sound like). Fortunately, the final three tracks are memorable ones. "This Mortal Soil" is as melodic as I have ever heard the band get, and it works very well. "Siberian Divide," coincidentally, features vocals from Cedric Bixler-Zavala of Mars Volta fame. It's a strange track, especially with Cedric's haunting shrieks in the background, but it proves to be an enjoyable experiment. "Pendulous Skin" closes the album with a light, airy instrumental. The strange thing about the "instrumentals" on this disc is that they have vocals, but they are incoherent. I'm not if they're just Mastodon's version of skat vocals or what, but their presnece does bring something positive to the songs. Don't be fooled, though, it's not 22 minutes long. It's about 5, and it's followed by an unreasonable amount of silence and finally a hidden snippet of a band member reading a (joke, I do believe) letter from Josh Homme.

So, if you don't want to bother reading that huge chunk up there (and you shouldn't, it isn't very interesting and I didn't insert anything funny), know this: the band has made another excellent album, and we're starting to see a lot of stylistic experimentation. The band is certainly on the verge of a masterpiece. They sound better with each release, and they sounded good from the beginning! Of course, due to the nature of their sound, this won't be for everyone (as the ratings and reviews reflect), but anyone who is open minded should find something they'll appreciate here. Fans of metal should definitely look into this band if they haven't already; they will destroy you!

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Send comments to Moatilliatta (BETA) | Report this review (#173099)
Posted Thursday, June 05, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Mastodon, metal's poster child. Why are they here? Amazingly dense drumming, complex guitar riffs and puzzlelingly weird structure.

The Wolf Is Loose, on with the drum fills. So far it sounds like a trash metal band. The singing, to be honest, is horrible. It couldn't sound any worse. This song really surprised me, it turned around from what I thought it was. Mainly the drum fills and guitar lines towards the halfway mark are what caught me. Overall decent song, somewhat repetitive. (8/10)

Crystal Skull started off very intriguing. Then became packed with THE WORST SINGING ever imaginable. Oddly, during some of the worst singing on the album came one of the best drum lines in the album. Something sounding like Martin Lopez of Opeth. Other than some extended solos near the end, this song really didn't rub off all too well on me. (7/10)

Sleeping Giant, this song is much slower than the first two. It's one of the longest on the album; the band elaborates on it's length. Some quaint drum fills at the beginning, this song caught my attention. This song sounds like real progressve metal. Then, right when I expected the old car brakes (vocals) to come in, the singer was actually singing. It actually sounded good too! What happened? Scott Kelly happened. Whoever that is, he made this song all the better. Beautiful. (9.5/10)

Capillarian Crest! The song that got me to purchase this album. This is easily the most puzzling Mastodon song. It's cycles are truly amazing, especially that mind boggling instrumental in the middle. Hints of Phil Collins are peppered across Brann Dailor's drumming, but it comes out in this song. You can clearly hear it during the instrumental. The instrumental is broken up by a short vocal thing, then leads back into a mind bending instrumental leading into more vocals. Brann Dailor is truly amazing. (10/10)

Circle of Cysquatch. Starts off very interesting, then with the pirate singing again. Not all that interesting. Until the vocoder kicks in, then the cycling and the insane drumming. This song has somewhat redeemed itself from what it was before. It ends somewhat in the style of this metal band, Gojira, which I listen to. I found that to be a nice touch. Decent. (8.5/10)

Bladecatcher starts off a little jazzy, with the twin guitars. Jazz it is not however. It becomes this murdering instrumental which is actually really amazing. The pirate singing was replaced with what sounds like a demented DJ Scratch table. Every time I listen to it, that sound makes me laugh heartily. The song basically repeats itself twice. Cool! (9.5/10)

Colony of Birchmen, wow! Starts really nice, with the singer actually singing again. It's actually Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age. They should have more guest vocalists, because it makes the songs better. The lyrics aren't just random lines either, they're actually very nice. This songis much calmer than the other songs, this works for them. Near the two minute mark, it gets really beautiful, it really sounds like progressive metal at this point. The instrumental at the end is awesome! They end this song with some tasteful double bass and a wicked guitar solo. Best song on the album. (10/10)

Hunters of The Sky starts off very...metal. This song is probably one of the heaviest in the album. I found it to be much more trashier than what preceded it. Didn't like that. If there's one thing in this world I despise, it's 80's thrash metal. Althought the hints of it are nice, this song hints it too hard. (6/10)

Hand Of Stone, starts off almost immediately with the fills and whatnot. This song hits you hard with some puzzling drumming and quizzingly wicked guitar riffs. Not too heavy, but not soft at all. Well played. I like the instrumentals throughout. Overall, nice. (9/10)

This Mortal Soil sounds like...Yes...what? They guitar intro really set the mood for this song, it was really nice. It reminded me of something Opeth would've done. Then that jumps into a really nice progressive metal riff. This song sounds more progressive metal than the others, which I love. It keeps on switching from one mode of playing to the other. I found this to be very progressive. The Finally Free like guitar lines towards the end really put a nice penultimate feel to the song. Great song. (9/10)

Siberian Divide starts of very proggy, with the singer actually singing. But it's actually them singing, no guest vocals. This song erupts into a carnage of heavy guitar riffs and drum fills. I can hear something in the story about avalanches. (?) In the intrumental/fill section, I can faintly hear Cedric Bixler- Zavala's vocals screeching away in the background. Cooooool. The fills section with Cedric I really loved, the drum fills were awesome there. The instrumental that comes after, however is really sweet. Then the guitar lines leads back into the fills section which then finishes the song. (9.5/10)

Pendulous Skin, I am so ready for this epic prog fest. Twenty two minutes says Itunes. Starts off acoustic, with some nice synth sweeps in the background. Then with a very The Mars Volta section. I was ready for this prog epica, I check the lyrics book. It's an instrumental....Okay, so no prog epica. I check Wikipedia, (Song ends at 5:03). This kind of made me not like this one. It isn't even that good. Pretty poor effort here, reminding me of the ender on Amputechture. I guess The Mars Volta rubbed off on them. (5/10)

I can say, I wasn't dissapointed. A great record, easily deserving of many listens. Most of the prog community shun these guys, mainly due to their harsh guitar playing and violent singing. I can handle this stuff, I listen to Necrophagist. These guys are severely underrated here, they are deserving of so much credit. I will be listening Colony of Birchmen for the next few days. Good day.

4 stars.

High Points: Colony of Birchmen, Capillarian Crest

Low Points: Hunters of The Sky, Pendulous Skin

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Send comments to Treasure (BETA) | Report this review (#176197)
Posted Sunday, July 06, 2008 | Review Permalink
ProgBagel
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Mastodon - 'Blood Mountain' 4 stars

More progression and experimentalism, just lacking some punch, the final punch specifically.

This album was a very nice follow-up to 'Leviathan' that really stirred up a storm in the metal community. 'Blood Mountain' has a lot more variation, like the dueling instrumental acoustic guitars section in the beginning of 'Sleeping Giant' to the complete avant-garde John Zorn like track 'Bladecatcher' and the voice box on 'Circle of Cysquatch'.it's all over the place!

Mastodon certainly did not lose their brutal signature sound of course. Brann Dailor's furious dynamic drum solo opens up the album before some crunchy guitar and Troy's angry vocals come in right along with them. The clean vocal work is used much more then on 'Leviathan'.

Now, the only flaw are some of the songs themselves. If tracks 1-8 were the only tracks on this album, it would be one of the best metal albums of all time. It was quite sad that after 'Hunters of the Sky' the album lacked good song structure. Tracks 9-12 just sounded like an amateur Mastodon wannabee band. The most useless would be the last track 'Pendulous Skin'. 'Pendulous Skin' is a 22 minute piece consisting of 5 minute Mastodon blues which just sounds bad in words, the music would share the same fate. The album would only lose one star in my view for having a horrid four track run to close out the album. Otherwise, this album was quite excellent.

I recommend this to any fan of prog-metal. It is surely one of the better releases in the genre. Others with a bit of a more eclectic taste can try out this album as well. It does not disappoint!

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Send comments to ProgBagel (BETA) | Report this review (#176558)
Posted Friday, July 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This forest is growing faster than I can tell.

Mastodon's third album, and in my eyes their weakest, although still excellent!

The songs seem to still be very sharp and heavy. With almost thrash style metal creeping in at times. I do feel that the writing and vocals took small hits, but it is still Mastodon. The lyrics as always are filled with violent elemental imagery. Almost being reigned in as poems with death metal added to them.

The Wolf is loose starts out very heavy and violent. The first thing you will feel is the sheen that has been placed on this album. It has been gutted a bit, and some of the force has been taken out. So, you get a bit less metal death, and a bit more melodic metal. It is still crunchy, chaotic, violent, barbaric, and it tends to stomp about, but this is not the same Mastodon, we were trampled by and gorged to death as last time. It is a new behemoth. One that is trying to break out of a cage, and doesn't seem to come all the way out.

There are a few moments that seem to let out the monster. The wolf is loose, the very erratic and paranoid organized cacophony that is Bladecatcher, and Colony of birchmen (a positive album highlight, and a song that recaptures the sludgy melodic death of Mastodon's past successes. Hunters of the Sky and This Mortal Soil are all very powerful and raging. Siberian Divide has my favorite lyrical and vocal use of the album. Finally, you have Pendulous Skin. Quite possibly my favorite song on the album. It is so moody and atmospheric. Again, an ode to Merrick. It is haunting, and completely unexpected. So restrained and spacey.

Not my favorite Mastodon album, but not bad by far! I recommend it. 4 stars.

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Send comments to Alitare (BETA) | Report this review (#208803)
Posted Thursday, March 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The third Mastodon's full length efforth was their definitive entry into prog!

The outstanding "Leviathan" had some prog elements, with intrincated passages and some long instrumental sections... But it's really far from the complexity of "Blood Mountain", where the guys show all their instrumental skills, and the great amount of imagination they have to write songs. Nevertheless, I think they did not achieve the level of "Leviathan".

The style of this album is still a curious mixture between thrash metal, stoner and prog, like the previous one... But "Blood Mountain" has an increased level of prog and psychedelic elements, making the songs more intrincated and variated, and even more personal and unique. The problem is that they are not so catchy as the "Leviathan" killer tracks... The experimentation of this album is coomendable, but I think the band did not achieve a real good balance between the inmediate killer power of "Leviathan" and the new attempt to reach a proggier level.

Specially the second half of the album is a bit dull to hear, because some songs like the silly Bladecatcher, the insipid Hunters of the Sky and the not really interesting Hand of Stone, are under the usual level of the band.

Best Tracks: the first five tracks are splendid... And I like Colony of Birchmen and Siberian Divide very much. The rest of the album is not at the same level.

Conclusion: I think that Blood Mountain is a kind of transition album... It has not the power and the catchy style of "Leviathan", because the band tried new musical ways in the prog way, but not finding the right balance. The album has great songs, but some musical ideas didn't work so good, specially int the second half of the album, and the general level is under "Leviathan". Have they found a better formula in "Crack the Skye"? I hope so!

My rating: ***1/2

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Send comments to The Crow (BETA) | Report this review (#224164)
Posted Wednesday, July 01, 2009 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Blood Mountain is the third full-length studio album by American experimental metal act Mastodon. Mastodon left Relapse Records after the huge success of their second full-length studio album Leviathan (2004) and signed a major record deal with Reprise Records ( A subsidary to Warner Music Group Company). A decision to move from a smaller company ( which tends to focus on the artistic side of music) and into the big league ( which tends to focus first on making money and then if you´re lucky on artistic values) always creates lots of speculations. I think many a fan was worried about the prospects of how Blood Mountain would sound like when it was released. With the high quality material on this album I´m sure none were disappointed. This is one of the rare cases were artistic values and commercial interests go hand in hand.

The music on Blood Mountain is a natural progression from the music on Leviathan. The style is still experimental metal with elements from both thrash metal, hardcore, post metal, psychadelic rock and progressive rock. The vocals are a mix of shouting angry type vocals and clean rough singing. The latter style is more used on Blood Mountain than it was on Leviathan giving the album a more melodic edge. This is still furious, fast played, complex and aggressive music though. Blood Mountain is just a more varied affair than anything Mastodon had done before. Just listen to the strange processed vocals on the song Bladecatcher or the psychadelic rock singing in closing track Pendulous Skin. The album took some time to sink in for me though. After being blown away by the powerful opening trio of songs The Wolf Is Loose, Crystal Skull and Sleeping Giant I found myself having a hard time remembering other songs from the album ( with exceptions like Bladecatcher of course). I´ve listened and listened to find details to hang on to ( and there are many), hooks I could remember or just a memorable song line. After listening to Blood Mountain many times I´ve succeeded in my quest. For some people this is an easily accessible album but not for me. But the click that came when I finally got it, was so rewarding that I wouldn´t have been without my long journey. I enjoy musical challenges and this is certainly one.

The musicianship is excellent. Powerful, fast as hell and complex drumming, sharp yet melodic guitar riffing and vocals that match. The vocals are the weak point though if I have to make one complaint.

The production by Matt Bayles and Mastodon is powerful and intense. A professional and well sounding production.

Blood Mountain is another great album by Mastodon. With this album they cemented their position as one of the most respected and successful experimental metal acts in the last ten years and a 4 star rating is well deserved.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#228220)
Posted Friday, July 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars If Mastodon masters one thing it's kicking off their albums. The Wolf is Loose delivers on its title's promise. This is crisp and energetic metal that sounds freshly melted from Lucifer's deepest pits.

Even though there are subtle moves towards a more varied and accessible sound, Mastodon haven't changed fundamentally since the debut. They are still a solid metallic alloy of alternative metal, hard-core, death metal and some scraps of post-metal. They added some clean singing but that often sounds equally unmelodic and strained as the forceless gruff vocals.

The biggest change comes from the rhythm section. Brann Dailor must have realized that hitting every tom and cymbal of his kit at least 10 times a second wasn't maybe the best way to make a song dynamic. He varies the tempos much more now, he allows for slower sections and abstains from sealing every bar tight with fills and ruffles. It permits the band to develop more interesting music such as on Sleeping Giant, This Mortal Soil and Siberian Divide. But still, a 'Divide' is clearly no 'Kathru'. With tiresome vocals like this, Prog or any other musical Valhalla is far out of reach.

Blood Mountain is a good album but I liked it a lot more the first few times that I heard it. It hasn't aged very well really. I want more highlights and especially more emotive power from music then the few crumbs that lie scattered here.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#268585)
Posted Saturday, February 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
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.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#277124)
Posted Saturday, April 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Blood Mountain is one the least beloved mastodon albums, it's quite unfortunite, all i ever hear about is crack the skye -- which in its own right is a funomanal record, dare i say near flawless, but Blood Mountain itself is somthing completly different. You hear the band becoming more and more progressive with every track, and even making reference to genesis with the song title Colony of Birchmen (colony of slipperman, The lamb lies down on broadway).

the album begins on a very heavy note, chugging guitars, bombastic drumming and alot of yelling. By track three the album begins to take shape, adding to their sound alot more time signature alternation and over all a more conceptual element with amazing lyrics and great lead vocal swaping to match. It's evident a huge influence on Mastodon is King Crimson very similar song arangments and theory are shared between the two band, mastodon being much heavier, but never the less often tracks resemble KC songs like 21st century century schizoid man or One More Red Nightmare.

The drumming on the album is unbelivable, (he has been quoted saying one of his main influences was Phil Collins). brann is very different compared to most metal drummers spending most of his time on toms and symbals rather than on the double bass.

The singing is good, the two singers, with the addition of occasional singing from the drummer, is very diverse. Guitar work is solid and very well constructed as well as excellent playing from the bassist, the album is a must in the progreesive Tech/Death genre and for open mined fans of progressive rock. 4 out of 5

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Send comments to DASistGrantTeeL (BETA) | Report this review (#286467)
Posted Monday, June 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Post Rock Team
2 stars Due to all the praise this album was getting on PA back in 2006, I bought it. Let me tell you something...it was the *last* time I ever bought any music without at least hearing some of it first. This was a (almost) complete waste of my money. After all the praise Crack The Skye was getting I listened to some of it on YouTube...didn't like anything I heard. This album is about 95% metal and 5% prog...and it's not even original metal! The first few times I listened to it I thought: "This part sounds like 80s Metallica...this part sounds like 80s Slayer...this part sounds like 80s Maiden..." Etc. Basically the whole album sounds like what those three bands were doing in the '80s, mixed with some Megadeth and Anthrax and maybe a hint of Sepultura. "Colony Of Birchmen" even sounds like '80s Ozzy sometimes.

The only song I ever really liked and the only reason I still have the damn CD is the last song "Pendulous Skin". Totally different to the rest of the album, this one actually sounds almost like Southern rock. The song is only about 5 minutes but the whole track is about 22 minutes....mostly silence, with some talking at the very end. That trick was used alot in the '90s: have the last song on the CD be about 20 minutes but only the first 3-5 minutes is an actual song, and then a whole lotta silence and....a *bonus* song or some talking or something for the last 2 minutes or so. I didn't know bands still did that kinda thing in the iPod Age. Anyway, it's a good song, I wish the whole album sounded like it! Mars Volta keyboardist Ikey Owens plays organ on the song. Also, that chick from Mars Volta 'sings' on "Siberian Divide". The only other song that even slightly catches my attention is the instrumental "Bladecatcher", mainly for the oddball sound effects.

Listening to this album just makes me miss what Metallica, Slayer and Iron Maiden were doing in the 1980s. 1.5 stars rounded up to 2.

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Send comments to zravkapt (BETA) | Report this review (#303820)
Posted Wednesday, October 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Blood Mountain' - Mastodon (8/10)

Although this is the third Mastodon album I've experienced, I will say that it is the first that I've really felt a connection with; my own rosetta stone so to speak, for this Atlantan metal quartet.

After two sludgy albums- the latter of which propelling Mastodon to the forefront of the metal scene- Mastodon's third record 'Blood Mountain' is the logical follow-up to their breakthrough; an album that takes the sound they became famous with, and turns it on its side. While there is still the aggression and edgy vibe here that gave 'Remission' and 'Leviathan' the power to succeed as records, there is a new, progressive approach the band takes, emphasizing technicality and a deeply psychedelic dimension now.

The sheer 'out there' nature of the album and trippy overtones makes the album special for Mastodon, even when compared to their more generally acclaimed album 'Crack The Skye'. Opening with a number more traditional of the band's older style, 'The Wolf Is Loose' kicks off the album in a fairly deceptive fashion, while it is evident that the band has tightened up their act from 'Leviathan', things are very riff-based and sludgy for the first two tracks. While generally quite good, charged and fiery songs, 'Blood Mountain' doesn't hit its real stride until 'Sleeping Giant' (the third track) rolls around. The intro sounds like something a dark psychedelic band would do, although the heaviness is still kept in check. From there on in, 'Blood Mountain' continues to develop it's unique sound.

'Capillarian Crest' shows the album's blistering technicality, a trait more often attributed to progressive metal than any sludge act out there. The weirdness culminates with the odd instrumental 'Bladecatcher', whose freakishly chaotic nature features electronic ramblings that almost sound like WALL-E (yes, of the Pixar film) is doing a guest feature. My personal favourite track on the album is 'Colony Of Birchmen', which seamlessly flows between deep grooves and more emotionally resonant sections.

Sporting their newfound fame, there are also a couple of very notable guest vocalists on the album. Of most interest to the metalhead would be Scott Kelly, of post-metal titans Neurosis. Also here is Cedric Bixler-Zavala of latin-tinged prog rock band The Mars Volta, an overt statement by Mastodon and their new alignment towards psychedelic music. Unfortunately, neither of these vocalists are used nearly as well as they could have been. While the singing done by the band members of Mastodon works quite well here, hearing a part from Zavala beyond some ambient wailing in 'Siberian Divide' would have made it quite a bit more than being merely worth having the guest's names on the packaging.

'Blood Mountain' has plenty of fantastic moments and a very fresh sound for metal, but it does so at the expense of cohesion, a problem that would later be fixed by 'Crack The Skye'. Partially due to the fact that the album is so ambitious with its sound, the album often feels very over the place, and many of the transitions between tracks feel half-baked and ineffective.

The fact remains however; before listening to Mastodon's 'Blood Mountain', I did not readily consider me a fan of the band, even a mild critic of what I perceived to be a fairly overrated act. After hearing the band in their element here however, I have been able to appreciate the band as a whole, and especially their most musical work 'Crack The Skye' so much more. An excellent, adventurous piece of work.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#393640)
Posted Friday, February 04, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I really don't see this as much of a step up from Leviathan but as more of the same from the band at the same spot in their evolution. The two albums share most of the same strengths and weaknesses. With that being said, I thought Leviathan was one the best metal albums of the 21st century so it isn't really a knock against this album.

These guys are riff generating machines and fill my heart with envy. Their abundant creativity is what really makes them stand out to me. You get the feeling listening to them that they could sit down and rewrite each section with 20 other great ideas that would probably work just as well. This leads me to the biggest weakness of Blood Mountain which is a matter of refinement. Every single song on this album has parts I love but few remain absolutely solid all the way through. The issue to me is the abrasive factor in transitions and vocals (although a lot of the screaming works great).

Highlights would be 'Sleeping Giant', 'Colony of Birchmen' and 'This Mortal Soil' which I think make the most complete and resolved single tracks.

The album has all of the substance but not enough polish. If only they would address that on the next album...

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Send comments to Gyges (BETA) | Report this review (#452423)
Posted Thursday, May 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Trample! Trample! TRAAAAMPLE!!!

Holy mackerel, Mastodon! You're trampling my mind like an enraged Cysquatch after blunt knife castration! That's one of the most energetic albums to ever emerge from sludge, or even whole modern metal scene. I got into Mastodon's music not so long ago and I must admit that there are both things I love and dislike about their music. However, BLOOD MOUNTAIN is definitely an album that contains mostly the things I like about it. In my opinion, it's the second best Mastodon's release after CRACK THE SKYE.

Production of the record is very good but could have been better. While drums, especially bass drum, sound heavy and organic, there's something in the way they're produced, that irritates my ears. I guess the snare drum is to be blamed for that as it sounds a bit flat. Anyway, the whole sounds heavy and clean and it's not overproduced. Still, I think both LEVIATHAN and CRACK THE SKYE have better production.

As many reviewers have already stated, the record can be considered as a transitional episode between sludgy and aggressive LEVIATHAN and spacey/progressive CRACK THE SKYE. Stomping sludge element is still most prominent one, but experiments with song structures and spacey/psychedelic and progressive rock influences have become more noticeable. Most of the compositions are galloping sludge metal songs with Mastodon's typical leanings towards punk-ish aggressiveness combined with stoner metal feel (especially in the case of Brent Hinds' vocal delivery). Plenty of time signature changes, complex structures and incredibly compelling, unmistakable drumming by Brann Dailor, determines BLOOD MOUNTAIN status as a modern progressive metal album. I think the biggest drawback this record has, is the fact that there are no songs I consider to be masterpieces. Mastodon's great talent for long and complex compositions manifested in their following release, but here - despite a few absolutely fantastic songs - it's still underdeveloped. Besides that, I found some tracks to be simply uninspired or even terribly annoying ("Bladecatcher"-> what the hell is that? electro-grind-core-stoner metal?).

All in all, BLOOD MOUNTAIN is a very good eclectic progressive metal album, deeply rooted in sludge metal genre. If you're into aggressive and energetic metal with a twist, this record is for you.

TRACKS BY RATINGS: 9/10[fantastic!]: Crystal Skull 8/10[great]: The Wolf Is Loose; Sleeping Giant; Capillarian Crest; Colony of Birchmen; Siberian Divide 7/10[very good]: Circle of Cysquatch; Hunters of the Sky; This Mortal Soil 6/10[good]: Hand of Stone; Pendulous Skin 3/10[poor]: Bladecatcher

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Send comments to bartosso (BETA) | Report this review (#626372)
Posted Saturday, February 04, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars 8/10

As its recognition by critics and public has increased, Mastodon has obtained the freedom to express the sound they actually propose. Thus, while in Blood Mountain you will find the sound of heavy and overwhelming his two predecessors albums, also see that this quartet is taking a step further in his music, while also offering a range of progressive and psychedelic influences.

Never imagined that the two songs, however. The Wolf is Loose Crystal Skull and present the típoc overwhelming and kickass sound of banda (the second opening with a exotic percussion), full of abrupt changes of time signature, something in which these gentlemen are masters. But with Sleeping Giant is the album's direction change. What a great band! I love especially his introduction. Capillarian Crest is another great song, and although the vocals are not much instrumental section is leaving jaws dropped. Circle of Cysquatch is just more of the same, although much like the section with distorted vocals. And Bladecatcher is a crazy instrumental, with the purpose of "broken vinyl", multiple bars and an epic interaction between members.

Now, what is this song, Colony of Birchmen? She took me by surprise. And if you have not noticed, the title is a reference to the classic "The Colony of Slippermen" genesis - after all, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway album is drummer Brann Dailor's favorite. It's a wonderful song, I can not express it in words. Hunters of the Sky and Hand of Stone are also more of the same, but Hand of Soil is my favorite here, a song full of nuances that prog is a true musical maze confined in 5 minutes. Siberian Divide is a song that I could not enter, though I love the bizarre effects of guest vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala (The Mars Volta) on the chorus. Pendulous Skin And although deceive us with 17 minutes of silence, is a wonderful work, very psychedelic and distorted with effects and use of Hammond, closing this album brilliantly.

4 stars, and I see that Mastodon has only to grow on me.

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Send comments to voliveira (BETA) | Report this review (#942047)
Posted Wednesday, April 10, 2013 | Review Permalink

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