Mastodon - Blood Mountain (2006)

Article originally published on on 2nd April 2011.

Mastodon's third studio album will always be remembered as one of the defining heavy metal albums of the 2000's. Following it's sophomore album, Leviathan, Mastodon had started to venture into unmarked territory in Blood Mountain. A unique and stand out record that will no doubt stand the test of time and continue to inspire many heavy metal bands in the future.

At a time when the genre had been swamped with popular metalcore (depending where you looked) acts after the downfall of nu-metal, it was nice to see a band step up to the plate and offer something truly unique in a sludgy, progressive effort that was the bands 2004 album, Leviathan. It was then further solidification with this 2006 effort from the band.

The album features no less than four tracks featuring guest artists, all of which adds to the diversity and complexity of the album. Of considerable note is the seventh track, and noticeably a standout, Colony of Birchman featuring Joshua Homme of Queens of the Stone Age on supporting vocals.

Adding to the collaborations includes Crystal Skull featuring Scott Kelly, which seems to be now tradition for Mastodon to include as a feature artist on at least one song from each of their albums (except Remission).

Packaging and Sound Quality

I managed to pick up the 2010 pressing of the album (Reprise Records, catalogue#: 44364-1) that comes in one of three different colours (red, blue or blue/white). I received the red one. This is standard weight vinyl at a speed of 33 rpm.

The red vinyl itself looks quite stunning, a very vibrant shade of red that really stands out. The package is presented in a single sleeve format and includes a sleeve insert containing the track listing and album credits.

The cover art is unique to this pressing and as you can see from the photo it features intricate patterns of red, blue and yellow. A welcome rehash of the original brown background that was featured on the original CD.

As for sound quality, I was a little concerned considering it is indeed a coloured vinyl; I haven't had a lot of luck with anything other than black vinyl in the past. After listening to this though, my harsh conviction of coloured vinyl has all but disappeared. This record sounds great!

I volume matched the waveforms of the CD and vinyl versions of the album for easy comparison.

As you can see from the waveform comparison of the second track Crystal Skull, this is clearly a different mastering job to that of the original 2006 CD. It suffers from none of the clipping and distortion from the CD master that was a result of pushing the volume limits way to far. By comparison the vinyl sounds rich and smooth, just the way I like my music.