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Mastodon

Heavy metal bruisers Mastodon combine such diverse influences as Iron Maiden, Rush, pre-sellout Metallica, Southern rock and '70s English progressive rock bombast into a meticulously distinct and unparalleled sound.

Songs from their unrelenting third opus present these Atlanta-based wooly mammoths as fierce, unfriendly and technically proficient beasts. The timbres are ballsy; the vocals are throaty; and the ingeniously complex lyrics are dripping with fantastical themes--clearly a wet dream for those who worship geek-night gaming or a recurring nightmare for those unfamiliar.

Mastodon has always concocted a highly conceptual lyrical world, and the rugged and dizzying trek up Blood Mountain is no exception. The mystical journey includes soul-searching tribulations, cannibalism and confrontations between monsters real or invented, including a mythical creature that is part Cyclops and part Sasquatch ("Circle of Cysquatch") and an army of chlorophyll-generated forest fiends ("Colony of Birchmen," with guest vocals from Josh Homme).

Powered by Brânn Dailor's astounding drumming and the prehistoric snarl of Brent Hinds, opener "The Wolf Is Loose" is a twisting and churning full-frontal offensive that exposes an agitated quartet of refusing to lessen its ferocity.

Blood Mountain is the Godzilla of jab-heavy histrionics and visionary percussion, an adventurous effort by uniquely inspirational heavy metal behemoths whose complexities leave the listener bloodied, dazed and anxious for more aural abuse.

More by Ron Bally

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