Heavy metal sub genres are often pretentious, yet commonly essential. To an outsider, it may seem unnecessary and even ridiculous. Then again, it can seem that way to an insider, too. I’m sorry to offend the local post progressive blackened Swedish grindcore expert. I even had an appearance on a short-lived podcast in college where we made fun of metal sub genres a little tongue in cheek (I professed to be an expert on Japanese Samurai panda metal).

What does this have to do with the new album by Mountaineer, called Bloodletting? Well, a little. This band, featuring former members of Secrets of the Sky, have been genre tagged in multiple different ways. I have seen them listed as post-metal, sludge, doom, and pop. I made that last one up. Post metal used to be one of my favorite sub genres and I would be happy to give any new release with the tag at least a cursory glance. However, over the last year or two, I can’t recall any landmark releases. I enjoyed Cult of Luna’s latest, but it is quite long for my attention span. I’m not sure if I’ve grown out of it or maybe the sub-genre itself has gone stagnant. Either way, I am more than willing to see if Mountaineer has what it takes to pull me back in.

The very first track, “Blood of the Book,” takes a few minutes to get moving. It’s a nearly 7-minute song with a somber intro that includes choral vocals and a beautifully strummed guitar. The vocals get going about two minutes in. It’s at this point the music changes as well into a heavy, lurching doom riff. So far, 3 minutes into the first track, and we have choral vocals, screams, and passionate cleans. This track constantly evolves. It also gets this album off to a hell of a start. I hope Mountaineer can keep up this momentum.

Track 2 does its best to keep the momentum going. It does so by continuing the same type of riffing from its predecessor and mostly screamed vocals. A lead pops up near the end, which is somewhat buried beneath the vocals and the rest of the heavy instrumentation. When compared to the first song, it’s nowhere close, but gives one an idea where their head is.

When I continue to listen to the album, I keep picking standout songs. On the promo copy, there are 9 tracks, including “Still,” which is listed as a CD and digital bonus. I will say that track 8, “Ghost Story,” feels like the last song on the album. The music stops with about 30 seconds left in the song. During the first few listens, after a few moments of silence, I would check to see if the album was over, then “Still” kicks in. Of course, one can see “Ghost Story” was intended to be the closer. I do keep going back to thinking that, perhaps, the album could be a bit shorter. Perhaps a track could be cut. However, the last two tracks are fantastic (including the bonus), so what track would be removed? Honestly, the truth is none.

I will sum this up by saying that there are typically two types of “post metal.” There’s the more introspective variety, also known as the less heavy type. Although I will not claim to be an expert, I usually put Alcest in this category. Then, there’s the heavier end of the spectrum, which is where I would typically place Cult of Luna. This album is in the more introspective, less heavy side. That’s not an insult because it kills. In a time like this, we could all use an album with which we can relax. Will Bloodletting re-ignite my passion for post metal? Time will tell, but I have fallen under this album’s spell and if this type of deep, introspective post metal with mostly clean vocals is your type of thing, give it a chance, and I am willing to bet it will hypnotize you as well.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
April 28th, 2020


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