Following their thematic masterpiece, LEVIATHAN, the mighty Mastodon brings us their most ambitious and complex music to date on BLOOD MOUNTAIN. Mastodon have been called the next big thing in the metal genre, and with this album, it is hard to deny that they are the most exciting band in this music.
To use a jazz phrase, this band really swings. Mastodon is building a Rush-like reputation as the most technically proficient band in their genre. They can bludgeon, and they can simply rawk. They constantly play with timings, playing (almost) stoner-slow or blast-beat fast. Vocals sway from screaming intensity to bar-soaked looseness, and they can just as easily get weird and mess with your head.
BLOOD MOUNTAIN brings a complete scene change from LEVIATHAN. Whereas LEVIATHAN made you feel like you were riding the sea, hunting an elusive foe, BLOOD MOUNTAIN sends you into the deep wilderness, where you are the hunted. Themes range from the searching ("Crystal Skull," "Sleeping Giant"), the vertigo-inducing ("Capillarian Crest") to the fantastic ("Colony of Birchmen") and the frantic ("The Wolf is Loose," "Circle of Cysquatch").
My favorites so far include the (aforementioned) full-force of "The Wolf is Loose," the intricately prog-like "Capillarian Crest," and the extremity of "Circle of Cysquatch." Probably the sharpest left turn on the album comes on "Sleeping Giant," another sign that Mastodon isn't afraid to stay at a groovy mid-tempo for a while. And I just wish the graceful album closer, "Pendulous Skin," could only have continued that cool vibe for about ten more minutes.
It's hard to top such an epic like LEVIATHAN, and it's too early for me to decide where this album will fit in their history. The band suggests that BLOOD MOUNTAIN is a metaphor for where Mastodon stands in their musical "quest." Appropriately, they have reached a peak with this album, although it's a different peak from LEVIATHAN and REMISSION. And it's exciting to know that Mastodon should continue to reach higher with their future releases.