Label: Lifeforce Records
Genre: Post-Metal, Doomgaze
Country: United States
Release Date: May 22nd, 2020
For Fans Of: Holy Fawn, Cult of Luna, Garganjua
Mountaineer have arrived to drop yet another post-metal mammoth of a record on us, which only somewhat makes up for the crap year we have been dealt thus far, not music related. Bloodletting is an outstanding record and will be sure take the genre to new and even higher heights. Bloodletting is a mesmerizing record that is centered around the concept of growing as human beings; leaving parts of ourselves and the things that have troubled us behind so we can ultimately grow. Bloodletting is an entrancing and truly memorable experience that I can confidently say that I will not get bored of anytime soon. Bloodletting leaves me completely in awe every single time I play through it, and I can count on one hand the records this year that have me feeling that same way so far.
Blending progressive doom metal and post-metal with plenty of soft atmospheric passages similar to how Garganjua did with Toward the Sun earlier this year, Mountaineer take it a step further and add plenty of shoegaze influence to ultimately create this “doomgaze” amalgam. In comparison to Toward the Sun, as the musical styles are quite similar, Bloodletting creates a slightly more cohesive listening experience and refines even more of what I wished Garganjua executed on their record. This comparison isn’t meant to express which record is better than the other, but rather than to explain how Mountaineer’s record is one fluid entity, being both heavy and lusciously soft at the same time whereas Garganjua had an ebb and flow between the heavier and softer passages. Sometimes I want that nice contrast between the catastrophically heavy passages and the more serene moments but other times, I want them both to be one entity, akin to how life and death are ultimately two sides of the same coin. Bloodletting reminds me quite a bit of Holy Fawn, another stellar group well-known for their heavy, psychedelic brand of shoegaze. Mountaineer have hit that sweet spot of creating music that despite being quite heavy, it is also incredibly beautiful and perfectly saturated with texture and emotion. Come to think of it, it is the farthest thing from being a doom record while still being a doom record.
The opening track, Blood of the Book, starts off with harmonizing vocals that remind me of Prelude by Thank You Scientist, and as the track progresses, it slowly builds adding more and more elements in combination with those vocals. From the incredibly jazzy guitar licks, to the Cult of Luna-“tribute” passage, to the incredibly somber organs that close out the track, this opening track absolutely floored me upon the first listen, and still does to this day. Steven Wilson was right all along, “I’d rather hear Dave Gilmour playing one note and break my heart, than hearing Joe Satriani playing 300 notes and not touch me in any way at all.” I may not necessarily agree with that always, but I completely understand in the context of records like Bloodletting and disclaimer, I do love me some Joe Satriani. Regarding Mountaineer’s new record, there isn’t anything necessarily crazy going on at any given moment, but the culmination and slow progression of this emotionally charged music is beyond satisfying to say the least. The build ups and the release of tension revitalizes me in ways that I cannot possibly describe. Dammit, I love post-metal. I love this Mountaineer record.
Tracks like Blood of the Book, Shot Through With Sunlight, Apart, and Still are incredibly gloomy yet comforting. This record musically just breaks my heart while mending it at the same time with the gentle and warm undertones. Tracks like To Those We’ve Said Goodbye and Apart have vocal melodies that are quite infectious despite not necessarily featuring any choruses, with the former tracks vocals resembling those of Jacob Bannon’s vocals in Wear Your Wounds, the Americana post-rock side project from the front man of Converge. There is a wide variation in the vocals found on this record as well, with plenty of harsh, sung, and those raspy clean vocals similar to that of Aaron Turner of ISIS, as is heard on tracks like South to Infinity. Each track brings something unique and interesting to the table and that makes this record almost impossible for me to get bored of.
The instrumentals seamlessly blend the fluttery and glistening arpeggios, jazzy licks, and the thick, distorted bass and rhythm guitar to create this massive wall of sound that makes it difficult for me to decide what I want to focus on; its all just too much, but in the very best of ways. There are several features of different instruments as well, like the organ in the opening track, and the sorrowful string accompaniments in South to Infinity. During my first playthrough, just when I thought I heard everything this record has to offer, the next track would go and prove me wrong, without fail. The final track, Still, puts the cherry on the top when it comes to delivering that melancholic vibe with the very ethereal and serene sounding vocals that repeat in a painful manner, “I want this to end.” The saddest thing about that line and delivery, lyrical content aside, is that I truly don’t want this record to end, I really don’t.
Compared to many other post-metal records and metal in general, Bloodletting isn’t even that heavy at all but given that this record tiptoes the line between shoegaze/post-rock and doom/post-metal, ultimately creating one single musical being, it is a true testament to what can be done with heavy music, proving to any naysayers that heavy music can in fact be wondrously gorgeous. Mountaineer have struck gold with their newest and most refined effort. This record is easily one of the most memorable records of the year so far, delivering some emotionally bleak and musically devastating tunes that will resonate with you for quite a long while. The staying power that Mountaineer’s music has is undeniable, and I am already beyond eager for their next release as who knows what more they will do with that infectious, hypnotic doomgaze sound of theirs. But at least this new record will keep me satisfied for a very long time.
- Blood of the Book
- The Weeds I Have Tended
- Shot Through with Sunlight
- To Those We’ve Said Goodbye
- South to Infinity
- Ghost Story
Total Playing Time: 53:03