Blood Mountain is the third full-length studio album and major label debut by American heavy metal band Mastodon. The recording of the album finished in April 2006 and it was released on September 12 in the UK and September 12, 2006 in North America through Reprise Records. The album in full could be streamed at the band’s MySpace page a few days prior to the release.
Like Mastodon’s previous studio work Leviathan, Blood Mountain is a concept album. According to bassist Troy Sanders, “It’s about climbing up a mountain and the different things that can happen to you when you’re stranded on a mountain, in the woods, and you’re lost. You’re starving, hallucinating, running into strange creatures. You’re being hunted. It’s about that whole struggle.” Guitarist Bill Kelliher considers this album to represent the earth element. At the time, bassist Troy Sanders called it “sonically the best album we have done.” The band’s emphasis on clean, melodic vocals instead of the harsher vocals that the band used on their early work continues to grow on this album.
The album includes guest appearances by Scott Kelly of Neurosis on “Crystal Skull”, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age on “Colony of Birchmen“, as well as keyboard player Isaiah “Ikey” Owens and singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala of The Mars Volta on “Pendulous Skin” and “Siberian Divide”, respectively.
The Wolf Is Loose—-Sounds literally seem to come at you from all directions at the opening of this release. The musical delivery seems even more aggressive than on the previous Leviathan release. The vocal has a menacing quality that allows you to step back with an impressed smug on your face. This is progression…but never loses the epic feel of the band.
Crystal Skull—-The listener really must notice the sludgier feel to this release than on those previous released. The feel of the record…although epic…sounds muddier and vocally disorganized at times…..while the music continues to impress with volume and experimentation. This is dirtier…but really still pleasant to listen to…even casually.
Sleeping Giant—-Melodic and damn pleasant, this in itself is a journey to behold. The huge epic crashes of the music…the muddled vocal that seems to fit the deep heavy murkiness of the music like a glove. This is an incredible song…..you sometimes hear Ozzy in the vocal…..it’s easy to imagine….a different time…a different place.
Capillarian Crest—-I love this song…..everything about it has an intensity and aggressive edge that speaks to me. The vocal is eerie in it’s sound…the music comes at you so fast and hard…there just seems to be layers and layers of different sounds to the song…at times the unending riff can make you lose your mind….but only in a good way. This is just fantastic.
Circle Of Cysquatch—-Beginning with an almost bright guitar line that dissolves in the deepness of the drums and the bass line, the vocal that accompanies this is crazy!!!! Maniacal in sound and at times this reminds me of Lemmy from Motorhead. This is loud…layered and crowded….but that only adds to the epic sound of the damn thing.
Bladecatcher—-Building and building and then meticulous in the quaint melody line…..only to be slapped in the forehead by the intense and manic sound of the mayhem that ensues. The structure of the song remains intact…but it is so schizophrenic in delivery that it is hard to keep my attention.
Colony Of Birchmen—-Much more accessible from the onset, this still sounds like a lost Sabbath record to me at times. I love the vocal overlays…giving the song a body and melody. The tripiness of the music is unmistakable…this is like a high that won’t leave you be…lol. This all seems to grow more experimental as it progresses….but I can say…the band always keeps the core sound intact.
Hunters Of The Sky—-Epic and really well constructed. This has a masculine sound to it that makes me want to expend energy and lose my mind. I love the layered vocals…giving a texture that seems to ride on top of the music…..the incredible fast bass line steers the ship…and the drums will give you a hemorrhage….but otherwise great…lol
Hand Of Stone—-Muddled and crowded with huge epic sounds only add to the epic feel of this track. This is so psychedelic in sound…..the music all seems to go in a million directions but is somehow magically held together to create a huge lush Viking sounding track that makes me want to embrace the cold and the snow……just magical.
This Mortal Soil—-Slowing things down a bit at the onset, one wonders where this is all going to go. The guitars are layered with a texture I can’t quite describe…..the drums almost silent in the background as the repetitive melody opens up and becomes something epic and concise. The vocal seems to plead with you….begs you to pay attention and embrace the desolation. The interspersed almost spoken delivery breaks everything up….and this quaint song becomes an epic track of unmatched proportion. Just incredible!!!
Siberian Divide—-Continuing much in the vein as we would expect, this track has some beautiful elements to it. The guitars at times gentle before they explode and smack you in the face while the vocal pummels your gut. This is exquisite in construction…I would love to see how this band comes up with the shape shifting feel of the songs all the time…no wonder it takes awhile…you can never rush genius.
Pendulous Skin —-Ending the release with a 22 minute opus seems overblown…..but what else could you ask for. Combining all the elements of the album…..muddled bass lines…..erratic vocals…….intense guitar lines….a melody line that disappears and reappears magically. The end track is a mini release all of it’s own. Enjoy…..
**** out of 5