Review

MASTODON Crack The Skye

Album · 2009 · Sludge Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Kingcrimsonprog
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.***
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