Blood Mountain


Reprise, 2006

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


Heavy metal and progressive rock are two genres that most critics seem to reserve their worst bile for. God help you if you’re a hard rock progressive band (see Rush or Dream Theater). However, critics will usually cut one band from this genre a little slack. It may be to show audiences that they’re not prejudiced against any genre of music or it could be that one influential site or reviewer puts in a rave about the band and a snowball effect occurs.

Case in point: Mastodon.

Before their major label debut Blood Mountain, the band released Levitathan, an album heavily influenced by “Moby Dick.” The concept behind Blood Mountainmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 , in short, is a mountain filled misery, monsters and death. Add lyrics that sound like they could have came from former WWF icon Ultimate Warrior’s near psychotic rants, and you have a band that reviewers love to hate. Most critics would have probably placed a ‘D’ (or 3, or ‘trash it’ etc.) in their review before he or she even hit the ‘Play’ button.

But for some reason, Blood Mountain scored big, placing high on many critics’ ‘Best Of’ lists for 2006. After giving it a few listens, I’m left with one question: Why?

Well, for starters, Blood Mountain rocks like a mother. Drummer Brann Dailor absolutely makes a case for being one of the best drummers in heavy metal today, holding songs with schizophrenic time signature changes together and giving an extra pulverizing push to more straightforward rockers like “Colony Of Birchmen” (featuring a vocal guest spot by Josh Homme) and “Crystal Skull.” In addition, the disc itself sounds amazing; the best elements (drums, Brent Hinds’ guitar work) are clean and at the forefront. Also, fans of uncompromising music will have much to admire with this album. For a major label debut, the sonic quality may have improved over their previous albums, but the band still let their inner freak run wild on the almost unlistenable “Bladecatcher.”

Mastodon has plenty of the heft and viciousness of ‘80s thrash metal pioneers Slayer. However, listening to Mastodon is a far difference listening experience than Slayer. While Slayer has the riffs to keep you listening for the entire album (albeit a 35-minute album), Mastodon’s sound begins to sound repetitive after five or six songs. That doesn’t bode well for an album that’s probably meant to be digested whole. But what’s worse is that most songs here don’t hold up individually on the shuffle of an iPod. The band is set to release Crack The Skye this year. If the band can put half the effort into creating songs that stick in your head as they do sounding like the heaviest band on the planet, Mastodon may actually live up to their critical hype.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2009 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Reprise, and is used for informational purposes only.