Album: Blood Mountain by Mastodon
Released: September 12th, 2006
Mastodon is a progressive metal band from Atlanta that was formed in 2000 from the ashes of two disbanded acts. The group has had the same lineup since its formation which consists of bassist Troy Sanders, guitarists Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher, and drummer Brann Dailor. Mastodon has released seven studio albums to date; four of these have been concept albums. Initially known as a stoner and sludge metal band that used growling vocals, Mastodon has sought to expand their musicianship and genre with each record. Each musician brings a masterful and unique style to their instrument and Mastodon is noted for having three vocalists (Sanders, Hinds, and Dailor). Though the band that recorded on 2017’s Emperor of Sand sounds very different than the one which released Remission in 2002, the same four amazing musicians continue to persevere and carve their own unique place in music history.
The Story and the Songs:
Blood Mountain takes the sludgy heaviness of Leviathan and injects an element of prog-rock as Mastodon continues their growth as musicians and songwriters. “The Wolf Is Loose” comes in with fast paced, spastic drum fills and hearkens back to the thrash metal influences in the band; this song starts the album at a dead sprint and references chapter titles from Joseph Campbell’s defining work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. The harmonious guitar lines of Hinds and Kelliher work to contrast the aggressive riffs in the verses. “Crystal Skull” begins with a primal drum beat before exploding into the full band’s attack; Sanders stands out with lead vocals on this track. “Sleeping Giant” adds an element of the ether with an extended instrumental intro showcasing Kelliher on the lead guitar melody. The relative break in prog-rock virtuosity is shattered by “Capillarian Crest” which features blistering guitar playing by Hinds and masterful fills performed by Dailor. “Circle of Cysquatch” sees Kelliher take the lead guitar riff again in a song about a one-eyed sasquatch that can see into the future and warns of dangers to come before segueing into the schizophrenic tempo changes of the instrumental, “Bladecatcher.”
“Colony of Birchmen”, one of the singles from the album, is a heavy rock anthem with a catchy chorus that features singer Josh Homme from the band Queens of the Stone Age. “Hunters of the Sky” keeps a relatively slower tempo compared to earlier songs on the album and injects some psychedelic soundscapes into the background. “Hand of Stone” swings in with a bombarding swagger and staggering musicianship before the prog powerhouse of the album, “This Mortal Soil”. “Siberian Divide” switches to a 7/8 time signature and cleaner guitars before the guttural vocals of Hinds appear to keep the song from being pinned down in one genre. “Pendulous Skin” is Blood Mountain‘s final song; featuring Hinds on lead guitar and vocals, it is another ballad for the Elephant Man like Leviathan’s “Joseph Merrick”. This song completes the journey up Blood Mountain and allows the listener to reflect on the listening experience as a whole.
Much like its predecessor, Blood Mountain contains a concept that is hinted at and exists in the songs, but doesn’t take full precedent in the execution of the album. Each song could exist as a stand-alone, but the work as a whole serves as an allegory for the band’s rise to release a record on a major label after years of playing small gigs and building a die-hard following. Blood Mountain is the most progressive of their albums in the sense that it calls back to many prog-rock bands of the 70’s, and allows the band to branch out more in their songwriting. This is also the first album to really feature guitar solos by Brent Hinds, which will become a staple of the following albums due to his unique style of playing.
Please enjoy some song recommendations, a song from the album, and check out the band’s social media accounts below!
Song recommendations: “Sleeping Giant” , “Capillarian Crest” , “Circle of Cysquatch” , “This Mortal Soil”