Released: 2006, Reprise/Relapse
Reviewer: Gord White
When this CD was released last year, it was released with a whole lot of hype. Mastodon had long been one of those ‘buzz’ bands, much like Meshuggah had been years before. Given the current climate in metal culture, that would usually mean that you should expect a bottom-heavy metalcore record with a lot of tough guy posturing. Not so with Mastodon’s third full-length, BLOOD MOUNTAIN, an intelligent and aggressive release featuring near-virtuoso musicianship and above-average song writing.
The first thing that one who is familiar with the band may notice is that Troy Sanders’ vocals are much more varied than on previous efforts, LEVIATHAN and REMISSION. He has incorporated many more clean vocals to go along with his usual hardcore bellow without losing any of the intensity present on earlier albums. Another thing that anyone would notice is that this album is produced to the tits, which is to be expected from a major label. A very slick and polished effort, it sometimes leaves the listener wanting a little grittier sound. Given that though, Mastodon executes their material perfectly, achieving what few bands can – that is, creating some serious prog metal without having any overlong songs. They pack an overwhelming amount of riff changes into a song like “Sleeping Giant”, which at 5:36 is the longest on the album. Guitarists Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher create some serious magic together on songs like “Hand of Stone” and the zany instrumental “Bladecatcher”. Not to be outdone, drummer Brann Dailor is a human whirlwind throughout, right from the opening salvo of “The Wolf is Loose”.
While purists may scoff at Mastodon, lumping them in with bands like Lamb of God, Chimaira or any of the other countless metalcore bands, BLOOD MOUNTAIN is a very solid release. The only weak spots are “Crystal Skull”, which seems to get a little repetitive and the album closer, “Pendulous Skin”. Not that the latter is a bad song by any means, but the album would close on a much higher note if it were cut one song earlier, on “Siberian Divide”, the strongest song on the album. It will be interesting to see what the band will do from here on in, given their popularity. You can count this reviewer as one who hopes the band chooses the path that they have started on with this album.