If anybody says that they liked Mastodon the first time around then they are lying. If anybody says that they sat through all of their albums in one sitting and had no problem doing so, no itching to put on something a bit more low brow, then again, their noses should lengthen out a bit like Pinocchio’s. However, any one who makes an effort and still doesn’t get it after some time is simply no metal head.
Mastodon is one of the better metal ensembles I have heard that hail from this century. In fact, slowly, but surely, the more Blood Mountain sinks into me, the more I am tempted to think that this might be one of the best metal album of the decade, yes, it is THAT good. I have been listening to the album for 2 months now and am still not familiar with all the riff and tempo changes. Call it my inattentiveness or attribute it to the mastery of this band, but that’s what it is, and seldom does any album take that long to assimilate in my ear.
Their biggest achievement is the fact that they have genuinely built up a unique sound, and this is not AMG “unique” that I am talking about here (on AMG, every band is unique). They sound huge, grand without trying to, without the synths, mellotrons and female choir ala Therion etc. They are complex without trying to be, without the constant use of polyrhythms and mind bending time signatures ala Meshuggah, Textures etc.
If Leviathan is taken as the starting point for this band, then Blood Mountain is the next big step. That monster was all about rhythms, this one is all about the rhythm and the melodic lead breaks. The Southern rock influences return in full force on tracks like Crystal Skull which has an awesome Lynyrd-Skynyrd-y solo at the end, only sped up and hard rockitized. That track is so awesome, its beyond belief, what with the harmonies that they bring in through the rhythm and lead guitar. The vocals have changed too. I can actually understand the lyrics and the emphasis is on pitch and key rather than on being harsh and guttural. Better than Leviathan? Definitely.
My only beef with them would be that sometimes it seems that they deliberately want to put the listener off, for example take Bladecatcher, which has a solid intro, but then goes haywire with some weird sound effects, only for a brief moment, but it is off putting, the kind of stuff that makes the normal person say “that’s why I don’t listen to metal.”
To make a long story, short, most of the album consists of similar awesomeness, and to point that out I use, kids, say it……
Recommended Songs -: Crystal Skull, Sleeping Giant, Hunters of the Sky