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3.93 | 71 ratings | 7 reviews
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Album · 2006

Filed under Sludge Metal


1. The Wolf Is Loose (03:33)
2. Crystal Skull (03:23)
3. Sleeping Giant (05:35)
4. Capillarian Crest (04:24)
5. Circle of Cysquatch (03:18)
6. Bladecatcher (03:19)
7. Colony of Birchmen (04:18)
8. Hunters of the Sky (03:50)
9. Hand of Stone (03:30)
10. This Mortal Soil (04:54)
11. Siberian Divide (05:30)
12. Pendulous Skin (22:15)

Total Time 67:49

Japanese edition:

12. Pendulous Skin (05:08)
13. Crystal Skull (Live) (20:37)

Total Time 71:19

Deluxe edition DVD:

1. The Making of Blood Mountain (43:14)
2. "Capillarian Crest" Video (04:34)
3. Photo Gallery (08:31)

Total Time 56:19


- Troy Sanders / bass, vocals
- Brent Hinds / guitar, vocals
- Bill Kelliher / guitar, vocals
- Brann Dailor / drums

Guest Musicians:

- Scott Kelly / guest vocals on "Crystal Skull"
- Josh Homme / guest vocals and Guitar on "Colony of Birchmen"
- Cedric Bixler-Zavala / guest vocals on "Siberian Divide"
- Isaiah Owens / keyboards on "Pendulous Skin"
- Jimmy Geofferys / tuba and euphonium on "Sleeping Giant"
- Nicola Shangrow / violin on "Sleeping Giant"
- Erica Brewer / violin on "Sleeping Giant"
- Jennifer Ellison / cello on "Sleeping Giant"

About this release

CD and CD deluxe edition (with bonus DVD) released 12th September 2006 on Reprise Records (44364-2).

12" vinyl LP released 12th September 2006 on Relapse Records (RR 6676-1):

2400 copies - White vinyl
500 copies - Black vinyl
500 copies - Red/blue vinyl
500 copies - Red/yellow vinyl
100 copies - Clear vinyl

CD released 2006 on Фирма грамзаписи Никитин (4607173158307).

CD released in Japan 11th October 2006 on Warner Music Japan (WPCR-12457), with bonus track.

Recorded at Studio Litho, Red Room Recording & Jupiter Studios.
Mixed and mastered at Sony Music Studios, NY.

There is a hidden spoken track (00:53) after Pendulous Skin.

Thanks to NecronCommander, Bosh66 for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

The Crow
The third Mastodon's full-length effort was their definitive entry into prog!

The outstanding Leviathan had some prog elements, with intricate passages and some long instrumental sections, but it's really far from the complexity of Blood Mountain, where the guys show all their instrumental skills, and the great amount of imagination they have to compose songs. Nevertheless, I think they did not achieve the level of Leviathan.

The style of this album was still a curious mixture between thrash metal, stoner and prog, like the previous one, but Blood Mountain increased the level of prog and psychedelic elements, making the songs more intricate and variated, and even more personal and unique. The problem is that they were not so catchy as the Leviathan killer tracks. The experimentation of this album was commendable, but I think the band did not achieve a real good balance between the immediate killer power of Leviathan and the new attempt to reach a proggier level.

Specially the second half of the album is a bit dull to hear, because some songs like the silly Bladecatcher, the insipid Hunters of the Sky and the not really interesting Hand of Stone, which are under the usual level of the band.

Best Tracks: the first five tracks are splendid and I like Colony of Birchmen and Siberian Divide very much. The rest of the album is not at the same level.

Conclusion: I think that Blood Mountain was some kind of transition album. It had not the power and the catchy style of Leviathan, because the band tried new musical ways in the prog way, but not finding the right balance.

The album has great songs, but some musical ideas didn't work so well, specially in the second half of the album, and the general level is under Leviathan.

My rating: ***
I've never been too hot on Queens of the Stone Age, so to detect a glimmer of their influence on Mastodon's Blood Mountain (even before I realised Josh Homme was guesting on Colony of Birchmen) was an unwelcome turn of events. Mastodon's bid at creating a crossover piece which would bridge the gap between the sludge and progressive metal they'd built their sound on and the broader commercial audience the success of Leviathan had brought them tantalisingly close to doesn't quite work, and whilst I can't blame Mastodon for giving it a shot at a mainstream breakthrough, equally I respect the fact that they backed away from this particular stylistic departure when they realised it wasn't quite taking.
Trample! Trample! TRAAAAMPLE!!!

Holy mackerel, Mastodon! You're trampling my mind like an enraged Cysquatch after blunt knife castration! That's one of the most energetic albums to ever emerge from sludge, or even whole modern metal scene. I got into Mastodon's music not so long ago and I must admit that there are both things I love and dislike about their music. However, BLOOD MOUNTAIN is definitely an album that contains mostly the things I like, oh yes. In my opinion, it's the second best Mastodon's release after CRACK THE SKYE.

Production of the record is good but honestly, could have been better. While drums, especially bass drum, sound heavy and organic, there's something in the way they're produced, that irritates my ears. I guess the snare drum is to be blamed for that as it sounds a bit flat. Also, guitars does not sound as heavy and massive as they should. Anyway, the album sounds clean and isn't painfully overproduced. Still, I think both LEVIATHAN and CRACK THE SKYE have better production.

As many reviewers have already stated, the record can be considered as a transitional episode between sludgy and aggressive Leviathan and spacey/progressive CRACK THE SKYE. Stomping sludge element is still the most prominent one, but experiments with song structures and spacey/psychedelic and progressive rock influences have become more noticeable. Most tracks are galloping sludge metal songs with Mastodon's typical leanings towards punk-ish aggressiveness combined with stoner metal feel (especially in the case of Brent Hinds' vocal delivery). Numerous tempo changes, complex structures and incredibly compelling, unmistakable drumming by Brann Dailor determines BLOOD MOUNTAIN status as a modern progressive metal album. I think the biggest drawback this record has, is the lack of real, compelling masterpieces. Tracks are short and a little bit too uniform for my tastes. Mastodon's great talent for long and complex compositions manifested in their following release, but here - despite a few absolutely fantastic and catchy songs - it's still underdeveloped. Besides, I found some tracks to be simply uninspired or even terribly annoying ("Bladecatcher"- what the hell is that? electro-grind-core-stoner metal?).

All in all, BLOOD MOUNTAIN is a very good eclectic progressive metal album, deeply rooted in sludge metal genre. If you're into aggressive and energetic metal with a stoner element, this record is for you.

TRACKS BY RATINGS: 9/10[fantastic!]: Crystal Skull || 8/10[great]: The Wolf Is Loose; Sleeping Giant; Capillarian Crest; Colony of Birchmen; Siberian Divide || 7/10[very good]: Circle of Cysquatch; Hunters of the Sky; This Mortal Soil || 6/10[good]: Hand of Stone; Pendulous Skin || 3/10[poor]: Bladecatcher || OVERALL = 71/100
Blood Mountain, Mastodon’s third studio album is a simply amazing record. When this came out, it was like a revelation, many directions hinted at on the band’s earlier work were now fully explored and the vocals were cleaner and clearer for longer and longer sections of the songs than ever before. The powerful and brooding ‘Sleeping Giant,’ and the upbeat and supremely enjoyable ‘This Mortal Soil,’ would have been a little out of place on Remission, but somehow the band have adapted their sound so that these excellent songs feel completely justified and do so without sacrificing what made Mastodon so vital in the first place. Everything about this album is outstanding, from the production, artwork and songwriting to Bill and Brent’s complex and interesting guitar work. There is basically nothing to complain about on the near faultless record, truly a rarity for any album. Troy and Brent’s vocals are really excellent on this album, a huge improvement was made in preparation for this album both with their clean and heavy voices. Brann Dailor’s unique drum style has always been a huge part of Mastodon’s appeal and it is great to see that even with the change in direction the band had taken, Brann was still able to fill the album with truly virtuosic and inspirational drum work, from complex beats and furious lunging tom rolls to the powerful almost post rock tom build ups on the more progressive numbers. Guest vocal appearances from Josh Homme on ‘Colony of Birtchmen,’ and Cedric Bixler Zavala on ‘Siberian Divide,’ (although you could be forgiven for thinking his contribution was actually a synthesizer on first listen) prove the icing on the cake. The Mastodon school of concept album writing has always been to write songs about the concept, rather than telling the concept directly to the listener through lyrics and Blood Mountain is no exception. Highlights include concert favourite ‘Crystal Skull,’ the punchy and entertaining ‘Hunters of the Sky,’ and the aforementioned ‘This Mortal Soil.’ Blood Mountain is an absolutely essential album, easily one of the best metal albums ever recorded and no Mastodon fan should ever be without it.
Conor Fynes
'Blood Mountain' - Mastodon (8/10)

Although this is the third Mastodon album I've experienced, I will say that it is the first that I've really felt a connection with; my own rosetta stone so to speak, for this Atlantan metal quartet.

After two sludgy albums- the latter of which propelling Mastodon to the forefront of the metal scene- Mastodon's third record 'Blood Mountain' is the logical follow-up to their breakthrough; an album that takes the sound they became famous with, and turns it on its side. While there is still the aggression and edgy vibe here that gave 'Remission' and 'Leviathan' the power to succeed as records, there is a new, progressive approach the band takes, emphasizing technicality and a deeply psychedelic dimension now.

The sheer 'out there' nature of the album and trippy overtones makes the album special for Mastodon, even when compared to their more generally acclaimed album 'Crack The Skye'. Opening with a number more traditional of the band's older style, 'The Wolf Is Loose' kicks off the album in a fairly deceptive fashion, while it is evident that the band has tightened up their act from 'Leviathan', things are very riff-based and sludgy for the first two tracks. While generally quite good, charged and fiery songs, 'Blood Mountain' doesn't hit its real stride until 'Sleeping Giant' (the third track) rolls around. The intro sounds like something a dark psychedelic band would do, although the heaviness is still kept in check. From there on in, 'Blood Mountain' continues to develop it's unique sound.

'Capillarian Crest' shows the album's blistering technicality, a trait more often attributed to progressive metal than any sludge act out there. The weirdness culminates with the odd instrumental 'Bladecatcher', whose freakishly chaotic nature features electronic ramblings that almost sound like WALL-E (yes, of the Pixar film) is doing a guest feature. My personal favourite track on the album is 'Colony Of Birchmen', which seamlessly flows between deep grooves and more emotionally resonant sections.

Sporting their newfound fame, there are also a couple of very notable guest vocalists on the album. Of most interest to the metalhead would be Scott Kelly, of post-metal titans Neurosis. Also here is Cedric Bixler-Zavala of latin-tinged prog rock band The Mars Volta, an overt statement by Mastodon and their new alignment towards psychedelic music. Unfortunately, neither of these vocalists are used nearly as well as they could have been. While the singing done by the band members of Mastodon works quite well here, hearing a part from Zavala beyond some ambient wailing in 'Siberian Divide' would have made it quite a bit more than being merely worth having the guest's names on the packaging.

'Blood Mountain' has plenty of fantastic moments and a very fresh sound for metal, but it does so at the expense of cohesion, a problem that would later be fixed by 'Crack The Skye'. Partially due to the fact that the album is so ambitious with its sound, the album often feels very over the place, and many of the transitions between tracks feel half-baked and ineffective.

The fact remains however; before listening to Mastodon's 'Blood Mountain', I did not readily consider me a fan of the band, even a mild critic of what I perceived to be a fairly overrated act. After hearing the band in their element here however, I have been able to appreciate the band as a whole, and especially their most musical work 'Crack The Skye' so much more. An excellent, adventurous piece of work.
Climbing Blood Mountain to Crack The Skye

Mastodon's "Blood Mountain" is the album preceding the masterful "Crack the Skye" that put them on the progressive metal map.

The earlier work seems to be heavier and less prog but "Blood Mountain" is a progressive album culminating in a psych prog conclusion.

The album begins with 'The Wolf Is Loose' that utilises trademark power metal riffs that change time signature. The vocals consist of caustic growls and screams. This is one of their heaviest tracks and starts the album on a high note. There are assaults of brutal riffs, duel guitar breaks, and complex effective drumming. A short blast that is technical, fast and progressive.

'Crystal Skull' begins with tympanic African drumbeats from Dailor then an excellent Slayeresque riff chugs along. "Into the black hole, searching for crystal... making the veins bleed," the vocals growl. The incessant riffing are intricate with many time changes. Blazing guitar solos from Hinds and Kelliher and emphatic vocals create a seriously brutal tone and killer speed. 'Sleeping Giant' has even more depth and complexity beginning with a doomy slow guitar motif. There is some harmonic work and a great lead break. It changes pace when the vocals kick in. The track is a definite highlight, very catchy tune and at 4:20 there is a brilliant riff to latch onto and a scorching guitar break. The drums are frenetic at times, a low vocal is used in places and it ends with a jagged guitar and it rings from left to right speaker.

'Capillarian Crest' features more inspired dynamic guitar power riffs to introduce it and then it shifts to a speed metal pace, then changes pace later to launch in to a lead break. It slows again when the vocals resume and feels like a different song. The intricate technical playing is astounding. Guitar squeals break the pace and then it shifts again into a cool chugging riff with screeching vocals and pulsating bass. A weird effect ends the track and transitions it to:

'Circle of Cysquatch', which is a crashing energetic rocker that is more of the fast technical thrash. There is a robotic voice on this and a really brutal power riff, bass heavy and dark composition.

'Bladecatcher' features guitar picking and builds to a chaotic mid section with nonsensical vocalisations, like a metal chipmunk. A crunching onslaught of Hinds and Kelliher's duel guitar riffing chugs along and then a strange effect like a vinyl album played back n forth leading back to the main riff.

'Colony of Birchmen' is a metal track strung along by riffs and time changes but there is more harmony in the vocals. At 3:20 the time sig is very strange with a well executed lead break. A weird effect transitions this to:

'Hunters of the Sky' and this has great vocals and heavy pounding guitars. The verses are repeated over very speedy riffs. It slows at 3:05 into a nice melodic riff that fades into the next track.

'Hand of Stone' is a moderate speed riff heavy track with high register vocals that are virtually screamed. I am reminded of Testament on this track. There are many twin guitar lead breaks and at 3:10 it gets very heavy and fast and then ends without warning.

'This Mortal Soil' begins with phased guitar and acoustic picking. There is a slower mellow pace with melodic vocals. The pace changes swiftly and suddenly. Mastodon are masters of time sig changes, so tight and innovative moving from 7/8 to 6/4 and 8/6 effortlessly. At 3:30 the pace is very fast with Black Sabbath riffing. The dark, ferocious riffs absolutely blaze at 4:10. The drummer somehow keeps pace and drives the track back to the main riff at 4:36. The next bizarre effect segues into:

'Siberian Divide', which is a more aggressive attack with shifts in pace and then a proggy guitar riff locks in at 4:15. Ferociously original metal. 'Pendulous Skin' is a weird experimental psych prog track with some inspirational passages of instrumental virtuosity. It begins with acoustic picking over an estranged spacey effect. A sublime guitar follows and very weird vocals. Spacey, psychedelic atmosphere makes this track a real stand out and there is even a Hammond sound that shimmers and grinds like the 70s prog days of ELP or Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso. The surrealism stops at 5:13 and there is dead silence and we await a ghost track. But there is none forth coming except at the end of about 22 minutes a voice speaks about downloading, "Keep it real". How weird is that?

In conclusion, this is a definite prog metal album to get hold of. Innovative, experimental, technical, original, strange, heavenly riffs and power metal technical virtuosity. 4 shining stars.

Members reviews

After the massive success of the previous album (2004's Leviathan), Atlanta's Mastodon decided to continue in experimenting with their already distinct sound. What resulted was their most daring and ballsy album yet, 2006's Blood Mountain. On this particular recording, they took things a little bit further than they did on Leviathan as they added proggier and more psychedelic bits to their sound. This one resulted in a mish mash of different sounds and approaches. It is an album that I enjoy quite a bit. Blood Mountain is yet another concept album for Mastodon (Fun tidbit:3 of their first 4 were actually concept albums). The concept deals with the element of earth and it tells a story of a man who journeys to the top of a mountain (Blood Mountain obviously as it is the album title) but the journey is not an easy as he comes across cysquatches, birchmen, etc. Musically, this is also yet another album that continues what I like to call "The Progression" as Mastodon approaches in delivering the vocals in a much clearer and more intelligible manner (it works brilliantly in my opinion). Melodies are more prevalent on the album too and although none of the songs are all that long, there is a lot going on in them. I found them all to be very interesting and refreshing to say the least. Let's how I feel about each individual track shall eh??

1) The Wolf Is Loose - This one begins with Brann hammering the hell out of the drums. It then leads to the belting out of "The hero of the gods, the crossing of the threshold, the belly of the whale, refusal of return (I just love the part). The simplicity and phrasing of the lyrics is sublime. It goes through quite a few changes throughout. It also has a bit of dueling guitars towards the end. Eventually climaxing in a fury. I found the song rather hardcore punk rockish (crossover thrash perhaps??) and thrashy in nature. The whole song is brilliant. I love it. 10/10

2) Crystal Skull - Yet another adventurous but brutal piece of music. It might not even eclipse the 4 minute mark but there is a lot going on in this. A great track in my opinion. "Intooo the blaaack hoole, searching for crystaal." 10/10

3) Sleeping Giant - Mastodon took a leap of faith with this one. It was one of the most spacey and daring songs that they had done up this point. It is also another piece off of this album that I absolutely adore. I especially love the ending when the band is going all out and Troy is essentially speaking the following lyrics out: A vast, calm wilderness. The call to adventure comes. Lead and land atop this rock. Infinite path carved with unrivaled skill. Very odd but that's what I love about it. A really great song. 10/10

4) Capillerian Crest - This one is just ridiculous(in a good way though). Very mathy and very complex. So many different time signature changes. It does not get as bad as some bands though (I am looking at you Dream Theater). A lot is going on in it. Brilliant track. 10/10

5) Circle of Cysquatch - This one begins with that iconic Mastodon riff(If you haven't heard it yet just listen to it) before becoming a furious track. The way the music and vocals are done is just amazing. Yet another song that I love off of this album. I love the mechanical voice part. 10/10

6) Bladecatcher - Although this one is really good and really crazy it is my least favorite track on the album up to this point. 8/10

7) Colony of Birchmen - This one is probably the biggest and most famous song off of the album. It has killer guitar hooks and a very memorable pre-chorus and chorus. Even though it might be a really popular track (nothing wrong with that). I quite enjoy it. 10/10

8) Hunters of the Sky - This one is also really good but probably my second least favorite off of the album (just barely above Bladecatcher). Don't overlook it though. It might get to you (it does just that to me sometimes lol). 8/10

9) Hand of Stone - This one is one of the most underrated Mastodon songs in my opinion. I don't think it gets the credit it deserves. Everything is great about this song. I just love the part after Troy blurts out "The hand matches. The hand that leads the way. To kill the shepherd. Just to see his face. Heed the warning. Ingest the rotten bone. The hand that falters. The hand that turns to stoooneee." Grade A. 10/10

10) This Mortal Soil - I love, love, love this track. My favorite song on the album. Everything about it is awesome. From the trippy beginning, vocals, arrangements to the melodies. The vocals during the initial verses are just amazing in my opinion. Mastodon is not afraid to experiment I tell you. Best track on the album in my opinion. 10/10

11) Siberian Divide - This one is rather foreboding and one that I enjoy a lot too. Brutal but haunting and not so brutal if that makes any sense. 10/10

12) Pendulous Skin - A psychedelic and rather melancholy track. One that was rather unusual for the band(but then again it probably wasn't??). I loved it. However, I could do without the long parts of nothing and then Josh Homme speaking lol. It was a really great track. 9/10

2006's Blood Mountain was yet another album that kept me interested in Mastodon's music. I believe it was the 3rd album (I don't quite remember as a lot has happened in my life since I purchased the album) I got from them after 2011's The Hunter and 2004's Leviathan. In this album they were able to freshen their sound up a bit and make it even more grandiose than before. It definitely continued to steer them in the right direction(remember that this is just my opinion, you might have a different one though). Another great and grandiose album that should be talked about for years to come. It too receives 4.5 solid stars from me!! Peace out!!!

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