Published Jan 01, 2006Anticipation is the first step towards disaster; even the greatest accomplishment can fall short of an imagined landmark. Such is the tension surrounding progressive metallers Mastodon. Releasing their full-length Blood Mountain this month, the Atlanta, Georgia quartet face not only comparisons to their highly acclaimed sophomore effort Leviathan, but also the risk of emerging from the comfortable calm lagoon of the underground into the indelibly rocky seas of a major label.
Musically speaking, the monumentally dynamic leap to Moby Dick-inspired sophomore release Leviathan from debut Remission left many slack-jawed in awe. It also bred doubt about their ability to match or top it on Blood Mountain. With just two months set aside to write and record between tour dates earlier this year, the heat was on to both create an album and deal with the intangible pressure both internally and from expectant fans.
"It sounds like a cliché but we just ignored all of that, says bassist and singer Troy Sanders. "Mastodon didnt come together to worry about what others think. Despite a lot of the responsibilities were starting to incur as we become more recognised, this is still our band. Were doing this to make music we want to hear and that will never change. We found an idea we wanted to attack for Blood Mountain and ignored everything else. Every band can say their new album is their favourite and it should be or why put it out? but this is our best work yet.
Blood Mountain is loosely inspired by Bill Hayes novel Five Quarts: A Personal and Natural History of Blood and includes guests like Scott Kelly (Neurosis), Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) and Isaiah "Ikey Owens and Cedric Bixler-Zavala (the Mars Volta). Complicating the challenges of topping two beloved albums is pressure from their fan base regarding the bands jump to major label Reprise/Warner. Despite the fact that the band suffered through a tumultuous relationship with Relapse (the band allegedly have yet to see a royalty cheque and constantly decry their fiduciary tribulations), Mastodon have recently become a bit of a punching bag for keeners intent on keeping their own little secret.
"I dont know what [fans are] concerned about, Sanders grumbles. "Were the same band. You dont go into this kind of music to make money, especially on a major label. Who puts it out is the furthest thing from our minds; I would expect that Mastodon fans would understand and even appreciate that. If this album does well, it means that we can continue to make music. Its not going to turn us into anything different. Itll just give us the means to continue if more people appreciate us. People seem to forget that and get upset before theyve even heard the record.
Still, Sanders cautions eager fans that patience with Blood Mountain is a must. Not unlike Leviathan, the album is a complicated blend of influences that are undeniably Mastodon, but that must be allowed to soak in while it shifts from the straightforward adrenaline of opener, "The Wolf Is Loose through chaotic disorder in "Bladecatcher and back to a rolling, contemplative lull of "Hand Of Stone.
"For the album as a whole, people cant expect to like it right away. I wouldnt want them to. Youd be sick of it after three listens; we want people to just start understanding [it] after three listens. Thats when you start to discover things you hadnt heard. I want this to be a relationship more than a fling something people learn to love forever, not forget about next week.