Mastodon - Blood Mountain (Cover Artwork)


Blood Mountain (2006)


Remission came out and some people were calling Mastodon the saviors of American metal. The first band to make critical noise on the thrash front in a long while, Mastodon steered the course and started to show signs of diving into the progressive fray with Leviathan, and in turn had both old fans crying for the dirty and rough Mastodon of yesteryear, and just as many, if not more, fans calling Mastodon the saviors of American metal. So with its major label debut Blood Mountain, Mastodon has served up a healthy portion of prog, and just as healthy a portion of metal. It's a heavy plateful, but to finish it is well worth it.

Once again Mastodon has hooked up with Matt Bayles for the album and the expected result is there. The production on Blood Mountain is nearly crystal clear, much more so than it was on Leviathan. That point right there might be enough to turn some people away from the album, because the rugged noise of Remission is gone. But Blood Mountain needs the technical clarity to work because the band's mastery of their instruments is on display throughout the entire album. Tracks like "Capillarian Crest" flex the progressive craziness without losing the ferocity of the metal edge. And sure, there are times when the prog beats are getting a little over the top, but just as quickly as Mastodon attempts to alienate you with its seemingly nonsensical progressive wizardry, it snaps back into clear indications that Mastodon is plain metal -- dueling guitars, excessively heavy bass and drums that fuel the speed faster and faster and faster. Songs like "Colony of the Birchmen" serves as the precarious lynchpin for this balance -- just enough prog to provide a nice introduction into Mastodon's sound, but enough metal moments to keep the flowing locks of metalheads everywhere satisfied.

Lyrcially Mastodon has started to separate from the other metal bands of today. There are no whales here, but rather questions of human origin and ways of life. Blood Mountain isn't just sheer head-banging entertainment, for which there are plenty of opportunities, but this is a smart album throughout. From the start of the blistering drumming of "The Wolf Is Loose" to the howling finale of "Siberian Divide," Blood Mountain is a heavy and dense album, meticulously layered to every extreme. Mastodon isn't trying to change the face of American metal with Blood Mountain; it is trying to showcase all the potential the genre has to offer. Just based off the sheer technical superiority of this album, Mastodon has vaulted the ranks of bands like Meshuggah without leaving behind any of the head-banging instincts that flows through its veins.