Reigning kings of the early-2000s metal resurgence, Atlanta's Mastodon expertly blended vintage speed-metal riffage, stoner rock's sludgy power, and prog's vision and scope on 2004's acclaimed LEVIATHAN. The band returns even stronger on their 2006 major label debut, BLOOD MOUNTAIN. The quartet's playing remains unquestionably tight, as fierce solos overlay colossal riffs, which are anchored by a rhythm section that is fluid when necessary (as on the ambient prog-metal of "Sleeping Giant") and lock-step perfect when the orders for speed and power are sent down from on high (see "Bladecatcher").
While BLOOD MOUNTAIN is purportedly a concept album (loosely built around the idea of being lost and doomed and at nature's mercy in the great wild, as opposed to LEVIATHAN's overt Moby Dick theme) it's difficult to decipher a clear narrative from the scorched-earth vocals. Nonetheless, a classical sense of grandiosity pervades the album, as the lightning intensity and sheer power of the music take the listener on a bewildering journey. But remain calm, dear listener: Mastodon will get you to the top of the mountain--bloody and beaten, but altogether satisfied.
What the critics say...
Rolling Stone (p.82) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Melody matters as much as mayhem, and the treacherous temp shifts are navigated brilliantly by drummer Brann Dailor..."
Rolling Stone (p.103) - Ranked #9 in Rolling Stone's "The Top 50 Albums Of 2006" -- "[They] leap between math-prog tempo shifts without losing their sense of primal paranoid thunder."
Entertainment Weekly (p.81) - "Major-label metal hasn't sounded this hungry since Metallica got haircuts." -- Grade: B
Q (p.144) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[C]onsisting of relentless time changes...[and] vocals that veer from unintelligible roar to choral chant....Exhilarating."
Uncut (p.117) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "A crushing heaviness grounded in classic hardcore and grind meets the drumming of Brann Dailor..."
Alternative Press (p.p.206) - "BLOOD MOUNTAIN finds Mastodon neck-deep in the primordial ooze, ascending to a very literal artistic peak by album's end."
Kerrang (Magazine) (p.69) - Ranked #5 in Kerrang's "20 Greatest Albums of 2006" -- "[They] continue to dazzle and confuse everyone with their staggering reinvention of heavy music's fundamental principles."