Monday, December 21, 2009

Mastodon - Blood Mountain (2006) (320)

"The hero of the gods,
the crossing of the threshold,
the belly of the whale,
refusal to return."

Maybe the coolest opening lyrics to a metal album, ever.

How does a band one-up themselves after they put out a concept album based on Moby Dick? Mastodon's brilliant 2004 album, Leviathan, brought the group to more mainstream consciousness, and is in a way a departure of their previous sound. Earlier releases, such as 2002's Remission as well as their Call of the Mastodon compilation embrace a more abrasive, chaotic, and when it comes down to it, heavier sound. Through the years their style became more eclectic, and some might say smarter, including complex arrangements and time signature changes. The band today sounds little like when they began.

But to address my first question, Mastodon followed Leviathan with 2006's Blood Mountain, disregarding any existing folklore in favor of creating their own mythical world. The listener must "guide a truth, prevail, and RIDE!!!" in search of the Crystal Skull (without Indiana Jones, no less), heed the word of the Cysquatch, and journey through the Colony of Birchmen. Very Lord of the Rings, right? Well metal and Tolkien are commonly associated (Middle Earth has provided band names for groups such as Gorgoroth and Amon Amarth).

The compositions of Blood Mountain are musically-challenging but accessible to the listener. Mastodon's time signature changes seem effortless, playing cool riffs and grooves in 7/8 and 6/8. Drummer Brann Dailor is a solid rhythmic enforcer who can keep time and go apeshit on the kit at the same time. The tempos are diverse, from the frantic "The Wolf Is Loose" to the sludging "Sleeping Giant", to the moody album closer, "Pendulous Skin". To me Blood Mountain is the middleground between Mastodon's early sound and their next album, 2009's Crack the Skye, which leaned towards a classic rock sound. Mastodon are seen as a band that appeals to people who don't even like heavy metal, and Blood Mountain might be the right place to start.


1. The Wolf Is Loose
2. Crystal Skull
3. Sleeping Giant
4. Capillarian Crest
5. Circle Of Cysquatch
6. Bladecatcher
7. Colony Of Birchmen
8. Hunters Of The Sky
9. Hand Of Stone
10. This Mortal Soil
11. Siberian Divide
12. Pendulous Skin


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