No underground metal act this decade has had a more driven ascent than Atlanta's Mastodon. Two members had previously cut their teeth in Today Is the Day, but their combined efforts have made them a household name in a world where reality TV and summer festivals are the ultimate yardsticks of popularity. By contrast, Mastodon have toured hard and released three critically acclaimed albums that fuse progressive technicality, fantasy concepts, and heavily anchored riffs and melodies.

The band's second disc, Leviathan (a concept album about Herman Melville's Moby Dick), topped many magazines' year-end lists and garnered the attention of Warner Bros. WB wooed the band to make Blood Mountain with the promise of total support and creative control. Listening to Blood Mountain, it's clear that Mastodon made no concessions. Same guys, same producer, same cover artist, etc. It's still a tightly wound sound where Brann Dailor's drums ceaselessly roll, guitars fuse and pummel, and brutish vocals shout about one-eyed monsters. Musically, a lot of cues are taken from mid-era Iron Maiden albums like Somewhere in Time, along with heavy influence from Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here. The resulting clean vocals (a new addition), hint at Corrosion of Conformity's Pepper Keenan. These improved dynamics result in some of the album's best moments.

Even with all the hype surrounding Mastodon's success, it's tough to disrespect their methods or results. They swear that they make music from the heart, and that they just want to support their families by making classic and progressive heavy metal. Is that so wrong? recommended