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Mountaineer – Bloodletting

by Santiago Puyol at 17 May 2020, 1:09 PM

Coming May 22th 2020, "Bloodletting" is American Post-Metal band MOUNTAINEER’s third full-length, following their previous efforts: debut album "Sirens and Slumber" from 2017, and "Passages" from 2018. The band has gone through a couple of line-up changes, with this album being the first record for guitarists Isaac Rigler and Forrest Harvey, making it a three-guitar assault, something that truly shows on the heaviest sections of the record.

MOUNTAINEER mostly sticks to the Post-Metal moniker, infusing distortion and some gnarly, harsh vocals to their Post-Rock based and Shoegaze-tingled compositions, although there is a bit of experimentation too, mainly when it comes to vocal harmonization. Clean guitars give way to wall-of-sound distorted passages and a solid yet simple rhythm section works to lay down hypnotic grooves.

Opener "Blood of the Book" features some beautiful vocal harmonies at the very beginning, with an almost folky quality to them. The clean guitar work in here adds a lot of light to a melancholic and at times anxious track. Harsh vocals clash with cleans, while the song-structure shifts through various moods. Atmopsheric and violent, a lovely and expansive song to begin with.

The shorter tracks in here, all still ranging between four and five minutes and a half in length, seem to be more on the Shoegaze end of the band’s sound, sometimes even Noise- and Dream Pop-tingled. Effected vocals and muddy guitars with heavy but never too heavy distortion. This is particularly clear on "Apart", a track that would not be that out of place on a MY BLOODY VALENTINE album. This also applies to CD and Digital only bonus track, the groovy "Still".

The other two four-to-five-minute-long tracks are a little bit more straightforward in their songwriting, with "The Weeds I Have Tended" having a little bit of a Post-Hardcore edge on its vocals and "Bloodletting" being slower paced, with a dash of Doom melancholy and beautiful acoustic touches on the mix.

When the band decides to go over the six-minute mark, things more into exploratory Post-Metal territory. Repetitive songs with shifting tempos and soft-loud-soft dynamics. Never too predictable, this band avoids the trappings of other Post-Metal bands that basically sound like EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY with more distortion.

The experimental songwriting might not be too out-there, but it is commendable in its diversity and creativity. Take for instance closer "Ghost Story" that feels like an Alternative Rock power ballad, filtered through Post-Metal lenses. The clean guitar and vocals only verses are outstanding in their vulnerability. Meanwhile, "To Those We’ve Said Goodbye" is an exercise in building an equally heartwarming and heartbreaking crescendo. A eulogy to the dead.

"Shot Through With Sunlight" and "South to Infinity" are the more dynamic songs overall. The former moves through pastoral sections with spidery clean guitars and kick drum-driven, noisy outbursts. The latter, takes a sludgier tone for its first two minutes, before descending into pure Post-Rock, deconstructing into ambience and going out with a fashionable explosion of sound.

Overall, "Bloodletting" is a fantastic record from MOUNTAINEER, an eight-track collection (nine with its bonus track) of mood pieces, that manages to exorcise a couple of demons through musical power. Production-wise I found a little clipping on some of the louder sections, which made it a bit too noisy at times, and I would not have minded if the bass were more prominent in the mix. Aside from that, a solid album filled with well-written songs and tons of emotion.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Blood of the Book
2. The Weeds I Have Tended
3. Shot Through With Sunlight
4. To Those We’ve Said Goodbye
5. Bloodletting
6. South to Infinity
7. Apart
8. Ghost Story
9. Still (Bonus Track)
Clayton Bartholomew – Guitars & Bass
Miguel Meza – Vocals
Patrick Spain – Drums
Isaac Rigler – Guitars
Forrest Harvey – Guitars
Record Label: Lifeforce Records


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Edited 04 February 2023

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