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Mastodon - Blood Mountain Album Cover

Mastodon - Blood Mountain

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9.3
Mastodon - Blood Mountain

One would think that the jump to a major label would bring more money, superstar producers and all of the technology possible to make a “perfectly” produced album. In many cases this is true, resulting in overproduced albums that lack the feel and groove that gave the band its original buzz to begin with. In other situations, the band will stick to the ideals of what they originally created, and instead of reinventing themselves with the added budget; will perfect the style that defines them. This is the path taken by Mastodon on their 3rd studio full length, Blood Mountain.

If you are at all familiar with or are a fan of Mastodon’s earlier releases, 2002’s Remission and 2004’s massive epic Leviathan, then you will have a fantastic time with Blood Mountain. Enlisting Matt Bayles, who produced their previous two efforts, the band expands on their fundamental sound by adding a level of technicality previously missing. They are still exploring new ground through instrumental Iron Maiden-esque freak-outs such as the constantly evolving “Bladecatcher” while still maintaining the power and intensity missing in a lot of modern metal. This truly is an album that may change the way people feel about metal while simultaneously helping to fix the negative connotation of the genre in general, that is, if this album can be categorized into any particular genre. Blood Mountain runs the gamut between so many different styles of music but somehow it does not seem out of place or forced. A breakdown with an Arabic flair inserted into a brutal chugging song? You bet. Southern Rock influences? Yep, they’re there too. Somehow with all of these different styles, the album feels more cohesive than any of the band’s previous outings; part of this is due to the increasing complexity of the instruments.

This album might as well as been called "Drum Mountain." Drummer Brann Dailor is the driving force on this album, utilizing a stable, ride-cymbal and fill heavy style, which recalls Neil Peart or Iron Maiden’s Nicko McBrain. Every good band must have a solid foundation built upon the drums. In this case, Dailor provides an excellent canvas for guitarists Bill Keliher and Brent Hinds to paint a masterpiece over. "Capillarian Crest" alone solidifies him as a veritable force to be reckoned with and would make The Mars Volta’s Jon Theodore a little nervous. The guitars on this album contain some of the biggest sounding riffs put to tape in the past decade. A characteristic of the guitar stylings of Mastodon is the sheer beefiness of the sound. Blood Mountain does not disappoint in this category with drudging, wandering guitar showcases such as “Crystal Skull” and “Hand Of Stone”. Lead guitarist Brent Hinds really stepped up his game for this album, incorporating chicken pickin’ finger style guitar lines (“Bladecatcher”) into the already harmony laden, Melvins inspired guitar parts exemplified in the album’s first single “The Wolf Is Loose”.

Conceptually, this album is the 3rd elemental inspired album from the band. Remission dealt with fire, Leviathan with water, and now themes of earth are present on Blood Mountain (yes, before Thrice). The lyrics mainly follow mythical adventures to capture mystical objects such as a crystal skull, with the protagonists of our tale being the band themselves. I know, it sounds very strange, but for some reason it is carried out extremely intelligently and never in a cheesy fashion. Vocals are more split on this album with guitarist Brent Hinds’ Ozzy Osbourne-esque crooning sharing the spotlight with Troy Sanders’ heavy grizzled voice. Guest vocals courtesy of Cedric Bixler-Zavala (“Siberian Divide”) and Queens of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme (“Colony Of Birchmen”) only add to the diversity even more, acting as perfect compliments to what Hinds and Sanders are doing.

If you are a fan of the band already, then everything you have come to know and love is here and in copious amounts. If you have never enjoyed what they have done in the past, then you might be inclined to check out the instrumental “Pendulous Skin” or “This Mortal Soil”, both vast departures from their earlier material, which could turn non-fans on to what the band is trying to convey. It is good to have an honest to God, solid metal album out to maybe inspire a renewed interest in harder music. You can bet that at the end of this year, for the first time in a long time, a metal album will be in my top 5, and that album is Blood Mountain.

http://www.myspace.com/mastodon
http://www.purevolume.com/mastodon

Track Listing:
1) The Wolf Is Loose
2) Crystal Skull
3) Sleeping Giant
4) Capillarian Crest
5) Circle 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
This review is a user submitted review from Tom Good. You can see all of Tom Good's submitted reviews here.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 20
04:33 PM on 09/30/06
#2
mma
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good review, I might have to check this out now
04:59 PM on 09/30/06
#3
WakingTheMisery
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I wouldn't say the drumming drives the album.
05:07 PM on 09/30/06
#4
McSavah
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Great cd!
05:24 PM on 09/30/06
#5
alreadyheardit
highly refined pirate
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good review of a great record
05:42 PM on 09/30/06
#6
Tom Good
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I wouldn't say the drumming drives the album.

By drives I mean that it would be a significantly different album with a different player playing. Of course this can be said for the guitars because they are playing the melodies. My point was that it takes a certain degree of talent and creativity for the drums to be noticed and recognized as being great, far more difficult than the other parts of the album because the percussion plays more of a background role in many recordings. On this album, they take the spotlight, at least in my opinion.
07:51 PM on 09/30/06
#7
Cue the Sun
I'm not sad anymore
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By drives I mean that it would be a significantly different album with a different player playing. Of course this can be said for the guitars because they are playing the melodies. My point was that it takes a certain degree of talent and creativity for the drums to be noticed and recognized as being great, far more difficult than the other parts of the album because the percussion plays more of a background role in many recordings. On this album, they take the spotlight, at least in my opinion.
Well said. Awesome review, by the way.
08:07 PM on 09/30/06
#8
a speedo model
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i need to listen to this.
08:16 PM on 09/30/06
#9
perrone
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not nearly as good as leviathan and remission
10:41 PM on 09/30/06
pacemaker
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not nearly as good as leviathan and remission

I disagree to a certain extent.

This album is overall an amazing record. Remission and Leviathan are both amazing... but if you listen to this album all the way through (on a long drive or while doing yard work or manual labor) compared to their other albums... Blood Mountain totally surpasses everything else they've done. At least as a whole, Blood Mountain is the perfect major label debut, compared to bands like Coheed and Cambria (who I love, by the way).

While other bands get signed and make the album they think they should be making, Mastodon went and made an almost perfect album via their own terms.

And Tom's review is well thought out and it seems that he is experienced enough in music himself to be able to convey what is going on with this shit.

The Mars Volta might be able to bend little kids' minds with their wankery... but Mastodon can deliver a solid album that makes sense and is listenable to all the way through.

I love this new reviewer (Tom Good) and I love Mastodon. This review is what AP.net needs. A fresh perspective, along with an amazing band = total glory forever and all time.
12:20 AM on 10/01/06
perrone
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i'll agree that it's more complete

but the quality of the songs doesn't knock me on my ass like the last two have
10:27 AM on 10/01/06
WakingTheMisery
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By drives I mean that it would be a significantly different album with a different player playing. Of course this can be said for the guitars because they are playing the melodies. My point was that it takes a certain degree of talent and creativity for the drums to be noticed and recognized as being great, far more difficult than the other parts of the album because the percussion plays more of a background role in many recordings. On this album, they take the spotlight, at least in my opinion.

Thanks for clearing that up. It is an awesome album and a great review.
03:17 PM on 10/01/06
Nowisnotthetime
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Awesome record, awesome review, Do more reviews Tom, this site needs it!!!!!!!!!
09:32 PM on 10/01/06
abusedcat
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their best album yet.
09:13 AM on 10/02/06
Tom Good
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their best album yet.
agreed. Definitely stepping it up, I can't wait to see what happens on the.....air album?

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