Cold Blue Mountain conquers new sounds with Old Blood
Metal isn’t just metal anymore, and sub-genres are multiplying like rabbits. Whether that’s a good thing is for another discussion. But you won’t find Chico heavy-rock unit Cold Blue Mountain playing into music writers’ favorite (and lazy) little pastime. The five-piece’s first full-length ripped and tore right through any silly labels, and the new album, Old Blood, is a beast unto its own.
Cold Blue Mountain aren’t the same band they once were. What started out as a noisy and scrappy instrumental trio has evolved into something heavier and much larger in scope with the additions of guitarist Sesar Sanchez and vocalist Brandon Squyres a couple of years ago. Old Blood is heavier and sludgier than its predecessor, with a total of five songs clocking in at around 45 minutes.
Squyres didn’t hold back on this album, concocting a concept based around a civilization that is overtaken by an opposing force. While the story is fictional, the parallels to history are clear.
“I had been reading a lot of history about ancient civilizations, specifically the Native Americans,” Squyres explained. “What kept striking me, and really hit home, was the idea of so many civilizations throughout time, that were taken over such a long time ago, have almost completely forgotten who they were and where they came from.”
The songs make up chapters in the story, concluding with the 11-minute bloodbath “Demise.” If there’s a story in there, you’ll just have to take Squyres’ word for it, with the vocals sounding as if he’s puking up shards of glass. Musically, it’s far more cinematic than anything Cold Blue Mountain has done, creating suspense as heavy riffs disintegrate into piano and string lulls.
“There are a lot of layers going on all over the record,” said drummer Daniel Taylor. “Layered guitar tracks, keyboard tracks and even tambourines and shakers and shit like that; things that generally have no place on a metal record.”
Old Blood originally included two more chapters, but was trimmed to make it fit onto vinyl (those songs likely will find their way to split-releases with other artists at some point). Wisconsin label Halo of Flies (home to other Chico heavies Amarok and The Makai) released the album Oct. 2, and the band is celebrating with an album-release party Oct. 17 at Café Coda. It’s already catching the discerning ears of metal sites across the country on the strength of the band’s new video for “The Strongest Will,” a very Chico homage to classic rap videos that adds some light to the record’s dark subject matter.
“I think both this video and our last video really show that we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” Taylor said. “I think it probably makes a lot of people who don’t know us, or know anything about how rad Chico is when it comes to creating awesomely fucked up juxtapositions, wonder what the hell is going on when they watch the video.”
The clip also looks to confound listeners even more as to what the band is all about. Only the members of Cold Blue Mountain—rounded out by bassist Adrian Hammons and guitarist Will McGahan—know what it all means. Squyres says Cold Blue Mountain continues to evolve, but that the band’s philosophy is pretty simple.
“We don’t write songs with the idea that they need to stay true to what we did before,” he said. “We write songs based on how we’re feeling and don’t throw away stuff just because it doesn’t fit to an old mold. If we all like it, we play it.”