Blood Mountain is the third full-length studio album by metal band Mastodon. The recording of the album finished in April, 2006 and it was released on September 11 in the UK and September 12, 2006 in North America.
Like Mastodon's previous studio work Leviathan, Blood Mountain is a concept album. According to bassist Troy Sanders, "It's about climbing up a mountain and the different things that can happen to you when you're stranded on a mountain, in the woods, and you're lost. You're starving, hallucinating, running into strange creatures. You're being hunted. It's about that whole struggle."
The album includes guest appearances by Scott Kelly of Neurosis on "Crystal Skull", Joshua Homme of Queens of the Stone Age on "Colony of Birchmen", as well as keyboardist Isaiah "Ikey" Owens and singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala of The Mars Volta on "Pendulous Skin" and "Siberian Divide", respectively.
Music videos for "The Wolf Is Loose," "Colony of Birchmen," "Sleeping Giant" and "Capillarian Crest" have been made. Although the video for "Capillarian Crest" is made up of live footage, the studio version of the song is played.
Guitarist Bill Kelliher considers this album to represent the earth element. Vocalist/bassist Troy Sanders calls this "sonically the best album we have done."
The band's emphasis on clean, melodic vocals instead of the harsher vocals that the band used on their early work continues to grow on this album.
The album in full could be streamed at the band's MySpace page a few days prior to the release.
Blood Mountain debuted on #32 spot in Billboard 200 best selling album charts, marking the highest debut in the band's career. By December 2006, the album had sold more than 65,000 copies in the U.S. alone according to their website . By March 2009, the album had sold 150,000 copies in the U.S. according to Nielsen Soundscan
Blood Mountain was largely well received by critics. Total Guitar magazine voted it its Number One album of 2006, and magazines such as Metal Hammer and Kerrang! have stated that it is every bit as good as the band's previous album Leviathan, if not better. The album has also charted in many websites and magazines 2006 countdowns. The band's first single off the album, "Capillarian Crest", was ranked #27 in Rolling Stone magazine Top 100 songs of 2006. Blood Mountain was ranked 9th in Rolling Stone Top 50 Albums of 2006/2, and 42nd in Pitchfork's Top 50 Albums of 2006.
Blood Mountain was voted the best album of 2006 in the UK Metal Hammer magazine end-of year polls, as well as top in Total Guitar magazine's top 50 albums of 2006. It was also rated the 17th greatest metal album of all time by a countdown recently done by gaming website IGN. However, the album is not without its detractors, as The Guardian states that the album is unorganized and feels as if the tracks are far longer than they actually are, which resulted in the 1/5 rating.
The main character is in search of the Crystal Skull which he hopes to place at the top of Blood Mountain. In the making of DVD, the Crystal Skull is supposed to remove "the reptile brain" causing its owner the ability to achieve the next step of human evolution.
In an interview with bassist Troy Sanders it was revealed that a Cysquatch is "a one-eyed Sasquatch that can see into the future." The Cysquatch warns the main character of the following dangers during the journey for the Crystal Skull.
Although not officially confirmed by the band, Birchmen are supposed to be a race of tree people that grow abnormally fast, and form one giant tree.
The album's last song, "Pendulous Skin", contains a secret "fan letter" from Josh Homme, who provided guest vocals on the album. At 21:25, he says: "Dear Mastodon: My name is Joshua. I'm a big fan from Southern Cal. Really diggin' on your new scene. That's why I hope you don't mind when I got your new demos for your new CD, I had to sing parts on them and send them to you as a tribute. I hope you're not mad about me also uploading them onto the Internet. But hell, it seems like you guys are so cool that you might dig something just like that. Sincerely, your fan, Joshua M. Homme. P.S., Keep it real…REAL (studio effects are used)….*laughter*….REAL." When asked about the message in a Pitchfork Media interview, Homme said, "I was just fucking with them. Then they asked if they could put that on the end of their record, and I was like, 'Yeah.' I did the vocal and sent it back to them, and that message was before the song started."
The title "Colony of Birchmen" is a homage to the song "The Colony of Slippermen" by progressive rock group Genesis, whom the band's drummer, Brann Dailor, has been known to appreciate.
The track "Sleeping Giant" is available as downloadable content for Guitar Hero III, and "Colony of Birchmen" is an on-disc track in Rock Band 2.
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