‘Blood Mountain’ gives hard-rock experience

Kevin Kolus


Credit: Jason Hall

With towering guitar riffs, inhumane drum fills and thought-provoking lyrics, Mastodon’s latest is a clinic in flawless hard rock.

Coming off the critical success of 2004’s Leviathan, the quartet from Atlanta performs one monster of an album with Blood Mountain.

Opener “The Wolf Is Loose” starts the album with Brann Dailor’s trademark assaulting drum patterns before moving into a much more progressive rock leaning than the band is used to. But they pulled it off quite well.

In fact, progressive rock seems to be the inspirational textbook from which Blood Mountain was fashioned.

Songs such as “Crystal Skull” and “Capillarian Crest,” the former pulsating with groove and the latter spinning with dizzy, technical guitar interplay, evoke an era when music was musical.

Always the forward-thinking metal band, Mastodon incorporates many styles, instruments and voices to color this lush concept album. Blood Mountain is set in a mythological world where the forces of nature clash with a nameless main character. The story is about trial and perseverance, and the odyssey unfolds with many twists and turns.

Though the story is moving by itself, it’s Mastodon’s diverse music that sets the band apart from the everyday rock group.

“Circle of Cysquatch” is a thunderous tune complete with layers of complex riffing and a gut-busting low end, whereas instrumental “Bladecatcher” is an energetic mix of grinding metal rhythms and melodic guitar aerobics that wouldn’t seem out of place on a Rush album.

Along with the booming metal screams of Troy Sanders, Blood Mountain is complete with tuneful singing and eerie spoken passages. “Sleeping Giant” and “Colony of Birchmen” are songs complete with clean vocals, a move the band has never attempted.

Another highlight on Blood Mountain is the oddly inventive closer “Pendulous Skin.” With clear acoustic guitar licks and a resonating organ, this song defines Mastodon’s stance as an outside-the-box band within an increasingly stale genre.

Despite the risky use of exotic instruments for a metal recording, what separates Mastodon from any heavy band on the market is their use of theme. The music on Blood Mountain isn’t only technical and melodic; it is captivating.

For instance, “Siberian Divide” introduces an acoustic idea that progresses into an explosive electric-riff ending. Because of its theme, the song is epic in scope and memorable in groove.

While the music on Blood Mountain may sound remarkable, it is not for everyone.

People with low attention spans will find the record to be too intricate for easy listening. Also, fans of the extreme first album, 2002’s Remission, who berated Leviathan for its melodic rock sensibilities, will hate the multifaceted direction of Blood Mountain.

Regardless of the shortcomings fans will find in this album, Mastodon is on the cusp of well-deserved popularity. The band has sacrificed its brutal beginnings in honor of thoughtful and mature composition. If Mastodon continues to write classics such as Blood Mountain, they may never go extinct.

Contact building and grounds reporter Kevin Kolus at [email protected].


Blood Mountain

Release on Reprise Records

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