Mastodon - Blood Mountain
Despite being named after an extinct wooly lumbering elephant, Atlanta band Mastodon have breathed new live into the metal genre, building on their healthy reputation with this, their third album. Hailed by some critics as "the future of heavy metal", they build together intricate songs which pitch between fast, furious technical metal, and more tender moment of sweeping guitars and progressive rock.
They certainly build a whole lot of variety into their work, most songs containing multiple parts, going from one extreme to the other. Lead single Capillarian Crest highlights their considerable skills, and also the talent behind the mixing death. Matt Bayles has working with the likes of Pearl Jam in the past, whilst the mix-down was the duty of Rich Costey, famous for his work with Muse. Through this album, Mastodon stretch the boundaries of contemporary metal, with an innovative touch and a "try anything" mentality to truly stretch the possibilities of their sound.
Highlights on this album include Crystal Skull, a powerful sonic onslaught of pounding riffs with some highly skilled rhymic drumming from Brann Dailor holding the whole song together. The guest vocal on this track from Scott Kelly also lifts this song above the rest. Other guests on this album include Cedric and Ikey from The Mars Volta on the last two tracks, and Josh Homme on Colony of Birchman, where the vocal is buried deep in the mix, smothered by the noise.
Also worthy of mention is This Mortal Soil, a song so varied from moment to moment that at times its hard to remember that you are still listening to the same track. One moment it has a melodic rock feel, until suddenly cascading to full speed in a riot of tumbling guitars and drums.
Mastodon are currently touring the United States with Slayer, a band to whom they resemble in both sound and ambition. This is heavy metal at its intelligent best, with none of the lameness of big-hair rock or the radio friendly sound of bands like Bon Jovi. This is full on, in your face metal, about to jump feet first into the mainstream.