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Highly Overrated Progressive Sludge - 70%

darkreif, May 31st, 2007

Mastodon released their "masterpiece" entitled Blood Mountain. Once again the media made a massive ordeal on how Mastodon are the next "saviors of metal" and how they bring a refreshing style to the genre in a stale generation of metalcore. I will say their style is somewhat unique - I prefer my brand of progressive metal to be more epic rather than sludgy - but it was somewhat refreshing to hear something new rather than metalcore.

As saviors of metal - I doubt Mastodon fits that. Blood Mountain is full of interesting rhythms and very spastic music. A lot of jazz influence seeps out of the music along with a lot of strange time signatures and timings.

The guitar work is something that is hit or miss. The sludge sounding riffs have an off sounding tone that at first sounds very cool but by the end of the album a nice clean guitar was the only thing I wanted. There are some very nice thrash riffs present but they are few and far between. The leads are nice but also in a very strange guitar tone. The fret work is good and the complexity is top notch. The leads are even chaotic at times like in the song Bladecatcher. To really define the guitar work in simple terms is very hard. The guitars have a massive range on the album itself and are one of the reasons that the album feels very scattered. A solid theme or sound would have been nice to latch onto for at least part of the album.

The bass work blends way too much with the sludge guitars. Once I was able to pick out the bass lines (after a few listens) I could tell that the they were well written but as a fan of bass individuality I found that the bass itself blended in a little too much to be very catchy. The complexity does follow the non-linear feel of the album and that is something interesting.

The drums get on my nerves. Although a very good drummer, I found that Dailor uses WAY too many snare drum fills and once I caught onto that I felt the snare was a very overpowering element on the album. It's a very Mastodon sound they have with the drumming - but I felt that the drums could even be more diverse in their playing. He has the abilities and the intelligence but he seems to even be playing it a little safe by hiding behind his snare fills.

The vocals should be a lot more interesting then they were. Two vocalists that share singing duties usually give the album a nice range in the vocal melodies. As it turns out the two vocalists sound remarkable the same. It took me a long time to decipher which vocal belonged to which singer (with the help of a few music videos might I add) and in the end I still am not sure exactly of who is singing what. I was also disappointed with the "harsh" vocals on the album. Not all the harsh and even though they have more aggression - they sound as if he is trying too hard to be harsh rather than letting his vocals be aggressive.

The lyrics are actually kind of fun. Although I read the story that the album is supposed to be a concept album on, I would have never actually gotten it unless I had read it. The lyrics are sparse and very mysterious. They tend to follow the music well but for telling a story they aren't very descriptive - which is both a blessing and a curse for the album. It fails as a "story-telling album" but succeeds in letting the listener put their two cents into what the lyrics mean.

Overall, Mastodon has released their masterpiece. Following in the vain of their writing and style they have really perfected their sound. But their sound is very strange. The sound is sporatic and sludgy and as an album I feel that it is quite forced. It tries to epic and jazzy a little bit too hard.

Songs to check out: The Wolf is Loose, Colony of Birchmen, Capillarian Crest.