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Mastodon - "Blood Mountain" (CD)

Mastodon - "Blood Mountain" CD cover image

"Blood Mountain" track listing:

1. The Wolf Is Loose
2. Crystal Skull
3. Sleeping Giant
4. Capillarian Crest
5. Circle Of Csysquatch
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

Reviewed by on July 30, 2008

"Blood Mountain's virtuosity is always and only necessary. Mastodon use their talent to demonstrate their vision, and not the reverse."

Three opuses in, Mastodon have dealt us concept albums on Fire (“Remission”), Water (“Leviathan”) and now one on Earth. There’s no reason not to believe they'll complete this elemental quartet with a disc about Wind. At that point, certain dubious prophesies in obscure Yes liner-notes will be validated; the visionary mercenaries named Mastodon will battle in the sky with sundry astral dragons and winged minotaurs, the guardians of a treasure trove reserved for those who lift prog to its final apotheosis. You heard it here first.

Rock? Blood Mountain deals with a spiritual journey up some monstrous, unhallowed stone, as is illustrated by the lyrics "We will climb to bestow our trust." Mastodon plays without irony and composes without cheese as we encounter lyrical themes to make the most hardened dungeon master drool: psionic one-eyed sasquatches and man-sized moths that soar on wings of broken glass. Riding “Blood Mountain’s” ornate rippling polyrhythm, their music rings brutal, pure and strange, but never lacks an off-kilter sense of mirth at the impossible places it finds.

And it moves. The groove here digs deeper than their tidal “Leviathan,” and its southern-rock inflections are now utterly buried by the throbbing aura of doom metal. Like Meshuggah, they found their compositions on simple, repetitive riffs that slowly unfold into dizzying rhythmic space. Unlike their Swedish math-death brethren, they write vocal hooks, which take the forefront on most of these twelve songs. Mastodon has never compromised anything, but there's enough melody here to draw in your seventh-grade sister. Forty minutes later and she’ll be breaking Drowningpool albums over her knee.

Even the sparse solos demonstrate a dense, expressive melodic sense, and stay integral to each song's structure. Blood Mountain's virtuosity is always and only necessary. Mastodon uses their talent to demonstrate their vision, and not the reverse. This is a tempered prog-rock, lacking the showing-off that so often keeps prog pasty and hollow. It's the sound of ground breaking.

Highs: Sizzling guitar work and mindblowing experimental sections.

Lows: The bastards signed to Warner on this one.

Bottom line: Ultra-heavy prog with impeccable, concise songwriting.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)