MASTODON — Crack The Skye — the ultimate metal music online community, from the creators of

MASTODON - Crack The Skye cover
4.29 | 100 ratings | 12 reviews
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Album · 2009

Filed under Sludge Metal


1. Oblivion (05:46)
2. Divinations (03:38)
3. Quintessence (05:27)
4. The Czar (10:54)
I. Usurper
II. Escape
III. Martyr
IV. Spiral
5. Ghost of Karelia (05:24)
6. Crack the Skye (05:54)
7. The Last Baron (13:00)

Total Time 50:06

Japanese edition:

8. Just Got Paid (ZZ Top cover) (03:33)

Total Time 53:39


1. Making of Crack the Skye
2. Track by Track
3. Photo Gallery

2009 Royal Edition bonus disc:

1. Oblivion (instrumental) (05:45)
2. Divinations (instrumental) (03:28)
3. Quintessence (instrumental) (05:40)
4. The Czar (instrumental) (10:53)
5. Ghost of Karelia (instrumental) (05:48)
6. Crack the Skye (instrumental) (05:57)
7. The Last Baron (instrumental) (13:03)

Total Time 50:34


- Troy Sanders / bass, vocals
- Brent Hinds / guitar, vocals
- Bill Kelliher / guitar, vocals
- Brann Dailor / drums

Guest Musicians:

- Rich Morris / Keyboards
- Scott Kelly / Lead Vocals on "Crack the Skye"

About this release

CD released 24th March 2009 on Reprise Records (459132-2) / Warner Bros. Records (WBCD 2211) / Фирма грамзаписи Никитин (4690355000587).

CD/DVD released 24th March 2009 on Reprise Records (9362-49791-1).

CD released 8th April 2009 on Warner Music Japan (WPCR-13301), with one bonus track.

2LP (45RPM) /CD released 5th May 2009 on Reprise Records (517931-1), limited to 2500 copies.

12" 33⅓ RPM red / gold (650 copies) or black vinyl LP released 5th May 2009 on Reprise Records (459132-1).

2CD Royal Edition released 15th December 2009 on Reprise Records (521635-2).

12" red / green vinyl LP released April 2010 on Reprise Records (459132-1), limited to 1500 copies.

12" baby blue vinyl LP released 2nd June 2015 on Reprise Records.

Recorded at Southern Tracks Recording, Atlanta, GA.
Mastered at Gateway Mastering, Portland, ME.

The Czar (track 4) is divided into 4 parts:
I. Usurper
II. Escape
III. Martyr
IV. Spiral

Videos were made for "Divinations" and "Oblivion".

Thanks to negoba, NecronCommander, adg211288, Bosh66 for the updates


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As you might expect from an album named after one of the more obscure 1970s progressive rock bands (Crack the Sky, no "e" on the Sky), this Mastodon album has a certain nostalgic vibe to it - it feels, in fact, like Mastodon taking a stab at making stoner metal, right down to the vocals which sound a lot like Sabotage-era Ozzy Osbourne. (Indeed, if you Crack the Skye do you get a Hole In the Skye?)

Of course, this is stoner metal filtered through Mastodon's distinctive sludgy-prog aesthetic, so this isn't purely an exercise in nostalgia - instead, it's a lightning raid on the past, plundering whatever works best for the purposes of Mastodon's compositional goals and leaving behind what doesn't work for them and in this way advancing their sound even as they pay tribute to their influences.
I don’t know how Mastodon do it, but once again they’ve managed to release an album that tops their previous effort as career highlight; Mastodon just keep getting better and better. Crack The Skye takes the ball ‘Blood Mountain,’ brought and runs with it, The music is even more progressive, even more virtuosic and the material is even more dense.

Somehow Mastodon have also simultaneously reinvented themselves and stayed true to their trademark sound at the same time. The jangly, awkward riffs are the same and the complex jazzy drumming is the same, but the music has a fresh, cleaner and at first glance more ‘listenable,’ air to it; in addition to this the production is amazing, the artwork is in keeping with the tone of all Mastodon artwork to date and once again the album is a concept album. No doubt a few fans in Remission T-shirts will still label this album as a sell out despite the fact that this is Mastodon’s least commercial offering to date due to the length, density and originality of the music.

Fans of the direction Mastodon started to take with Leviathan and especially with Blood Mountain will welcome Crack The Skye as the next logical step; praising the numerous guitar solos, haunting clean vocals and entertaining lyrics. Everything you’d expect in terms of passion and performance is represented here and represented in stronger doses than ever before. The album is bursting with new ideas, with exciting bass lines, complicated time shifts and yet all the force you’d expect from the band who wrote Remission.

If you have an open mind there is a hell of a lot to enjoy here, such as the new Keys and synths, along with longer songs and cleaner vocals (plus more vocalists) that add whole new dimensions to the sound that Mastodon previously only hinted at in songs like ‘Ol Nessie,’ and ‘Sleeping Giant.’

Some may be surprised to find that in addition to the amazing Troy and the aggressive Brent, Brann Dailor appears to be lending his vocal talents to the album. Additionally, many fans will welcome Scott Kelly back for yet another wonderful guest vocal appearance.

There is little point in naming standout tracks as the entire album is the best thing the band have ever done, but if I was forced to pick a favorite I’d pick ‘The Czar,’ which is probably the coolest song you’ll hear all year, that or ‘The Last Baron,’ which has some beautiful acoustic moments, some lead epic guitar moments and an awesome section that seems like a cheeky tribute to ’21st Century Schizoid Man,’ over all the song is like a bizarre cross between ‘Trampled Under Hoof,’ with ‘This Mortal Soil,’ and the drumming is just so impressive.

Overall; Although at first the album may seem like a departure, repeat listens will reveal moments that could fit at the end of ‘Hearts Alive,’ or fit into the middle of ‘Mother Puncher.’ In fact the first single ‘Divinations,’ sounds like it could fit well on the Blood Mountain album. The most important thing however, is the sheer quality of music, I really can’t recommend this album highly enough, to fans of metal, to fans of prog or just to anyone with an open mind.

***This edition comes surprisingly with no slipcase but does have a gold coloured spine to match up with the rest of the Mastodon spines. Most importantly it comes with a hour and a half long making of DVD which is very entertaining and informative, which sheds lights on the writting process as well as the recording process and contains interviews with all band members and the new Keys player Richard Morris. Well worth the money to see the down to earth guys talk about their career, the new album and how it was made.***
A Good Buye

Given how I'm relatively new to this band, I'm not going to go on at length about how Crack the Skye is different from the previous albums and how good or bad the change turned out to be. Maybe it's more progressive, less metal or more eclectic. One thing is certain - I bought this record for 5 euros (brand-new!) and I'm damn glad about it.

Mastodon is one of those eclectic modern metal bands that constantly walk the thin line between progressive creativity and commercial appeal. Despite the fact, that CRACK THE SKYE is not completely free of mainstream leanings, it is a very original and powerful album. I haven't heard such an amount of different influences - ranging from old-school prog rock through sludge, psychedelia, groove metal and stoner rock to hardcore and metalcore - for quite some time. Besides, I think that real, honest energy and unrestrained creativity is what I like most about this record. Not to mention technical prowess and interesting - somewhat stoner/hard rock - vocal delivery from every band member.

CRACK THE SKYE is a solid album with a few uninspired moments (e.g. the title track (whye, Mastodon, whye?) but generally it's full of very good or even mind-blowing pieces ("The Last Baron" and especially its middle part left me speechless) and interesting rhythm experimentation ("Ghost of Karelia"). Not to mention all of these catchy and ass-kicking groovy riff rides running through the whole album. "Divinations" is certainly one, 3 minutes long ride.

Mastodon is well known as one of the most powerful bands in the modern progressive metal scene. With a fresh, creative style, young, fierce spirit, and the capability to make incredible music, they have a lot to offer. Through four studio albums, the band has shown their technical ability, willingness to experiment with their sound, and amazing ability with the music they make. On their latest offering, Crack the Skye, the band displays a much mellower, progressive sound, full of incredible experimental dissonance and sludge metal overtones. The entire album is an experimental powerhouse, packed to the brim with the band's finest music crafted yet. Overall, this album is truly a marvelous showing of 2009 and easily the band's best.

One thing that is obvious about this album's music even in the first few seconds is the infectious dissonance that is perfectly insinuated between the melodies and harmonies. The band's compositional quality is not that of what one would hear on an everyday progressive metal album, which makes this album truly unique in a really spectacular way. The band crafts their music in such a way as to keep that epic metal that they're known for while procuring a wonderful progressiveness about their music as to appeal pretty much any experimental metal fan.

The whole atmosphere of the music on this album is also quite incredible. To augment the dissonance about their music, the band inserts very subtle and appropriate filler aspects similar to what The Mars Volta has done; they use very quiet and subtle strings, chorus, and mellotron/Hammond fills to really fill in the gaps of their playing in a truly incredible way. It adds spectacular colour and depth to the music, and making the entire album a real blast to ride on. The whole album is brimming with genius compositions, and the great sludge- inspired insinuations add a nice flavor to the already experimental metal. Overall, musically, this is a truly wonderful album, and the band's best so far.

In the end, Crack the Skye is easily one of the better metal albums of 2009. Chock full of fantastic melodies (sludgey and scratchy but still fantastic), a wonderful experimental feel, two sublime epics (Czar and The Last Baron), and so much more. The band has truly shown their true colors here, expressing their willingness to morph the very sound they pride themselves on and their ability to delve into uncharted territory in the musical spectrum. Overall, this is truly a great album, and I recommend it to every metal fan out there. 4 stars.
Conor Fynes
'Crack The Skye' - Mastodon (8/10)

Before listening to 'Crack The Skye,' I could safely say that Mastodon was certainly not 'my cup of tea.' While I am certainly aware of progressive tendencies in 'Blood Mountain,' there was never anything about the band that really made me want to call myself a Mastodon fan. While I am still not wholly convinced that the band is right for me, I can safely say that 'Crack The Skye' is a brilliant album, and despite being critically hailed as a bit more than it cuts out to be, a nice dose of a brand of progressive metal much unlike the more European- styled sounds of Dream Theater or Symphony X.

With 'Crack The Skye,' Mastodon craft a very dense soundscape, which at times is very easily likened to psychedelia. There is also a fair metallic dosage here, although it's not near as brutal or heavy as alot of music lodged into the 'extreme prog metal' realm. If Mastodon has anything going for them, it's that they sound very original in contrast to their other prog-metal contemporaries. It could be well-said that a substantial portion of modern progressive metal bands default to sounding like carbon copies of Dream Theater or Symphony X at the earliest behest. Mastodon -on the other hand- looks back to the band's geographical roots (the band hails from Georgia, in the heart of the American southland) and instead of typical prog-rock influence, uses Southern rock as the main external voice to the sound of the band... While I have never been able to appreciate Southern rock too much in the grand scheme of things, it's very fresh to see this melded with progressive metal.

The instrumentation in the album is fantastic. There is some great riffage here; the riff at the chorus of 'Divinations' in particular works very well in the sense that it is both progressive and complimentary to the song's spirit. The album's (or the band's, I should say) main fault seems to lie with the vocals themselves. Brett Dailor -while I have nothing truly against the man or his work- does not have a voice or style that I have all too pleasing to listen to. His belting is far too nasal (in the likes of Ozzy Osbourne) and lacking in range or feeling to get any rise out of me... It is a shame that's the problem with the album, because I'm sure that with a different singer with a more emotional vocal style, the album would have felt alot more emotionally fluid and organic. With extra added listens though, the veil falls down and the emotional quality initially hidden by Dailor's gravelly voice is seen in full view.

Despite it's few (yet pronounced) flaws however, 'Crack The Skye' is a great piece to get lost in for a little while, and is an album to look out for in 2009. As a closing note, I will say that it took me literally months of listening until the album finally hit me full force, and I realized it was such a fantastic work.
'Crack the Skye' was my introduction to Mastodon and it captured my attention immediately.

The blend of extreme metal and experimental jazz fusion psychedelia is well executed throughout. Each song is part of a thematic master work about Eastern philosophies and Religiosity. The very off kilter time changes are wonderful on each track. It contains a multi- movement suite with songs within a song on the mini epic 'The Czar' which is worth the price of admission on its own.

Other highlights are the catchy metallic 'Oblivion' and 'Divinations'. If you can get hold of the video clip of this latter track it is worthwhile as it depicts an astronaut, very '2001'ish, trying to rescue another astronaut who is drifting in space - the effects are great and it opens up a new dimension to the meaning of the obscure lyrics.

'Ghost of Karelia' is another good track with some beautiful lead guitar work and 'Crack the Skye' is excellent. The last track 'The Last Baron' is the epic that features a rather strangled blend of jazz time signatures and crunching chunky metal riffs clocking in at 13 minutes.

The vocals by Dailor on each track range from clean to agressive growelling. The vocals compliment the sound of the tracks and there are some incredible lead guitar breaks from Hinds and Kelliher. The bass work of Sanders is excellent and there are many strong harmonies and choruses to stick in the memory banks well after the CD ends.

The riffs are intricate and complex and never dull, as you are not quite sure in which direction the tracks are heading. This is a great album and worth checking out if you have never encountered this ensemble of technical metal proggers.

I recommend this to any one who likes their prog metal loud and technical as this album has much to offer even the most discerning prog metal addict.
Phonebook Eater

"Crack The Skye" is an album to remember, for being not only Mastodon's best album yet, but also a great example of how prog metal can have a more alternative sound.

Mastodon have been increasing in popularity over the years,becoming world wide famous in 2006 with "Blood Mountain" and being universally appreciated with their 2009 release, "Crack The Skye". This last album is most definitely their best one to date, beating their mind blowing 2004 release "Leviathan".

Although Mastodon has always been a good, respectable band, with "Crack The Skye" they reach a whole new level, and they are now considered one of the great Progressive Metal bands out there, and this one the best Prog Metal album of the year. While the older releases had a harder, more extreme, and very sludgy sound,"Crack The Skye" is a lot more progressive influenced, which is noticeable even in the length of the songs, almost all above the average Mastodon track. The style hasn't changed much, but there is a huge difference; the Sludge Metal sound is gone. The hooks, the riffs, the melodies, all of these elements are mostly typical Mastodon style, but the sound is completely different, maybe a little softer, but definitely still pure, strong metal.

This was my first Mastodon encounter, even though I knew them a little before getting this album, so I wasn't mind blown immediately. In fact, it took me a few listens to appreciate fully all of these songs, all of them pretty ambitious, although not exactly full of experimental moments, to the point where one might think this is your average wanna be mainstream Heavy Metal album, when it intended to be the contrary. "Crack The Skye" is the final chapter of the four part project, which is formed by Mastodon's four albums released thus far.each album concentrates on one of the four elements: if "Remission" was fire, "Leviathan" water, "Blood Mountain" earth, than "Crack The Skye" is air. The concept of the album in fact is quite spacey, but I won't tell you no more.

The album has seven songs, the shorter ones, like "Oblivion", "Quintessence", the title track and "Divinations"and are more in you face, aggressive,with the typical Mastodon-like fast rhythms, even though some progressive hints are present. But the longer ones, like the mini suite "The Czar", which has an amazing build up, or the closing chapter "The Last Baron" are full of experimentation, that make the band a lot more interesting than what they apparently are.

"Crack The Skye" is an album to remember, for being not only Mastodon's best album yet, but also a great example of how prog metal can have a more alternative sound. I would recommend this to anyone who likes metal and prog, for sure.

Progressive Sludge? Stoner Prog? Or Just Great Headbanging Fun?

My introduction to Mastodon was a 3 hour ride in the tattoo chair under the hands of a fanboy who claimed he'd inked up a few of the boys in the same booth. He had numerous posters of their not so beautiful mugs for me to consider while he drug needles through my skin and we shot the breeze about music. I'm not exactly sure what impression that left but I subsequently tried to get into them a couple of times. Each individual song I sampled was fine enough, but never totally grabbed me. Then the explosion of praise for the new album erupted so I thought I'd just dive in.

Crack the Skye is hard to categorize - it's not tech, it's not really extreme, it's not really prog, but lawdy lawdy is it good. It contains great riffage to crank in the car, music that makes you want to air guitar or go home and learn the tab. For those not into guitar, there's plenty to just yodel along with the now remarkably melodic music. The refrain "I'm lost in oblivion" in the very first song is as great as heavy hooks come, and actually the pre-chorus of that song is as good as some band's best refrains.

The music sounds more like sludge metal than any other specific genre, but there are certainly some prog elements. There's an infamous section in the middle of "The Last Baron" that is prog-improv craziness that sounds more like the beginning of the song "Close to the Edge" than anything traditionally metal. Two extended epics are both excellent. Several band members' multi-timbred vocals are the best of the band's career, spanning barks and growls to tasty harmonies to Ozzy-like whine. The guitars sound great, raw toned but precisely played. The band definitely has its own distinctive sound and just oozes rock-n-roll. Attitude, love of loud, attention to good riffs, mixing of aggression and love of fantasy topics, it's everything that attracted me to metal when I was the teenage male target audience 20 odd years ago. Listening to this album makes me think of the great concerts of my youth.

This is also the work of a clearly mature band. They've spent the time to get the compositions right, make the instruments sound great, nail the vocal takes. While the production is very modern, Crack the Skye doesn't sound micro-corrected to death at all. It maintains a live intensity and fire, a vibrant looseness that the best studio albums capture. Four of the seven tracks are truly great songs, and the remaining three are good. Not quite a masterpiece, but an excellent piece of work, one of the better offerings of the year 2009.

For me, at least up until Crack The Skye Mastodon have been a metal band with some good ideas, moments of brilliance even and improving over each subsequent release. Crack The Skye immediately benefits from having the best vocals I've heard from the band so far. It's also their most progressive album to date and full of cracking songs. They're more melodic than before without sacrificing any of the power and intensity of their performance. There's no getting away from the fact that Crack The Skye is an extremely heavy album, very busy and just when you think it couldn't get any heavier they find a way of raising the power quotient a few notches. The band plays brilliantly throughout with some of the best metal riffs I've heard in years and as usual drummer Brann Dailor is all over his kit with his trademark high speed rolls. Although almost consistently heavy throughout they also bring things down a bit at times and understand the benefits of dynamics as they do on the 4 part The Czar, one of the best tracks on an album full of highlights. Special mention should go to final track and 13 minute long The Last Baron, a restrained beginning masques a rollercoaster ride of a song which at times gets so frantic you expect it to fall apart at any moment. Simply stunning!

Mastodon's Crack The Skye should go down in history as a milestone metal album, the way that Metallica's Master Of Puppets, Slayer's Reign In Blood or Opeth's Blackwater Park are so highly regarded setting a new benchmark and finding new life in a genre that is often tired and repetitive these days. The only 2009 album that I've awarded 5 stars to and the best prog metal album since Opeth's Watershed. An essential release for prog metal and metal lovers alike.
Crack The Skye is an excellent release by Mastodon. Although there are plenty of metal bands that have groove, heaviness, along with a mystical aura, none achieve the vibe that comes along with this album. Among the heavy and melodic guitar, most of the album contains haunting singing by 3 of the 4 band members, all used in a variety of ways to help embellish the song as much as they can. Along with that you can hear traces of keyboard in a few parts, most notably in the intro to "The Czar". Of course, the metal elements definetely stand out the most, since the standard guitars, bass, and drums never stop for a ballad or quieter song. That does not mean there is no atmosphere, of course.

The album begins with the first three songs being mostly straightforward hard rock songs, "Oblivion", "Divinations", and "Quintessence". All three contain great driving melodies, catchy choruses, and a good level of experimentation. These three will please any metal/hard rock fan, though they certainly won't alienate those who can't stand brutal music, since they're pretty accessible and could easily be heard on mainstream hard rock radio.

The rest of the album is more progressive once "The Czar" comes in. "The Czar" is a lengthy, building piece with enough riffs to fill an entire rock album, with several different moods to complete it. It should please any fans of post metal, extreme metal, and heavy prog.

The album continues to mix in atmospherics and experiment with the heavy tones. "Ghost of Karelia" is definely a highlight among an album of highlights, with mystical guitar sounds and constantly changing time signatures. It gives an almost oriental vibe, just before some heavier guitars come in. After that is "Crack The Skye", which brings the album back to the more sludgy Mastodon roots.

The greatest part of the album has to be "The Last Baron" though. It begins with haunting singing above epic guitar strumming and powerful drums, and just builds. Through its entire 13 minute length it goes through emotional flowing atmostpherics, energetic and agressive thrashing, and complex technical insanity. The album would not be complete without it.

In summation, this record is a good choice for those who love hard rock, sludge metal, and any prog fan who likes things a bit heavier. There are great atmospherics and many good things to say about this album.

Members reviews

Prog Metal with growlings. That's it and there's nothing wrong about it.

This album is really a jewel of music made in a musical way. Heavy fast riffing with some moody atmosphere set the scene for this album. Even the growls are used only in a controlled way and have a good melodic leads overall.

If you are into prog metal or Opeth you would really appreciate this album. This one in particular seems to be better oriented in avoiding the riffing onslaught for a better balanced moody-metal approach. And I'm very pleased with it.

The singer sounds a lot like Ozzy Osbourne, very theatrical and dark and the musicians are at the top of the game (as most of the prog metal musicians) and the result is quite entertaining and impressive. The band knows how long the compositions should go and the album is pretty short in comparison to other bands obsessed with filling every minute available with some technical virtuosity. Just over 48:00 minutes it's enough for them to prove they can compose, can play loud and remain interesting.

The production is not crystal clear (in fact, it sounds a little cheap but I'm sure it's on purpose). The sound is not polished, which gives a little raw ambient to the result and makes the album a little heavier than what actually is. Don't know about the lyrics, I just enjoy the mood, the performance and the very interesting journey through their music.

I know I'm pleased for knowing them, and though they are not in my top 5 favorite Prog Metal bands, They are surely a band that I should like to dig in. 3.5 stars is fair for a good metal band...

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