Sound — 9
Every once in awhile, a band comes out of seemingly nowhere and changes the entire way you look at music. I mean, I always knew about Mastodon, but their first two albums, Remission And Leviathan, just never did it for me. I thought the overall concept of their work was very goofy and reserved for nerdy kids who are all about mythological and fantasy-like figures. It just didn't make sense to me. Unbeknownst to me, I was missing out on one of the best progressive metal bands in years. I picked Blood Mountain up recently out of impulse while doing my monthly perusal of CDs and boy was I pleased. Stylistically, it shows how much Mastodon has progressed since their debut and sophomore effort. Their first albums showed elements of metalcore, sludgey/stoner rock, and even pays homage to their southern rock roots. Blood Mountain is a more mature, defined record. I really don't think this record can be characterized by any generic metal sub-genre, though the closest way I can describe it is technical metalcore. Instrumentally, it is unanimously their most accomplished album. Brann Dailor is one of the most entertaining drummers out there and his interpretation of jazzy metal astounded me on this album. The guitar work is stunning as well. Crunchy, distorted riffs, with technically insane tremolo picking, accompanied by juicy jazz licks? What more could you possibly ask for? Vocals have never been the band's prowess, but the emphasis on clean vocals just further bring attention to how much better everything else is. In short, the sound rocks like a rock album should. Top notch.
Lyrics — 7
The only reason I am rating this lower than everything else is because of the actual singing itself. The singing is an acquired taste, but if you listen to what is going on and see the concept in this record, you will overlook those vocals very quickly. Now that I have gotten that out of the way, I can tell you how awesome the lyrics are. Blood Mountain is said to represent the "Earth" element. I haven't entirely figured out the main idea of the concept but I do know this album is about the main character (presumably one of the band members) who is on a quest for the "Crystal Skull" (a track from the album). He hopes to place this skull at the top of Blood Mountain. The Crystal Skull will help the owner of it achieve the next step in human evolution, which is why it's desired. During his journey, the main character comes in contact with "Cysquatch", which is a one-eyed monster who can see deep into the future. He warns the main character of the dangers he is facing on his journey and the rest of the album chronicles the events of his journey. It's such an epic concept and I really don't see why anyone couldn't enjoy it.
Overall Impression — 9
One of the best albums I have heard in years. Rock music needs a band like Mastodon that puts music traditions in check from time to time. They're so inventive and different, which is I guess the reason that draws me into their material. This is definitely their most powerful work to date, so if you're looking to get into Mastodon, I would suggest giving this album a spin. "Sleeping Giant" and "Bladecatcher" are definitely the high points on the album to me. I love how these guys just manhandle music. They just transform music into a circus, yet it's so enjoyable. I don't know how much more I can say. I guess you will have to listen to it and see for yourself.