Mastodon
Crack the Skye


4.0
excellent

Review

by Fugue USER (58 Reviews)
March 22nd, 2009 | 137 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Crack the Skye is Mastodon's proggiest album to date, showing a vast maturity in the band since previous release Blood Mountain. Whilst not as heavy as any of their previous albums, Crack the Skye is still an exciting, unpredictable gem of an album.

Atlanta based band Mastodon have never been ones to do things the easy way. Known for their unique brand of technically stunning progressive/sludge metal the band made a name for themselves through breakthrough album Remission, a vigorous and fierce album that was met with widespread critical acclaim. Refining their sound for follow up albums Leviathan and Blood Mountain the band expanded their ever-growing fan base whilst staying true to their musical roots. On the face of it latest release Crack The Skye is a typical Mastodon album; energetically performed technical music executed brilliantly. Sure its ambitious but so was Leviathan, and yes it contains an overly eccentric curvilinear concept, but Blood Mountain had one too. What sets this album apart from previous releases then is not the musical ideologies of the band, but the evolution of how this music has been integrated into a concept which differs greatly to any the band have previously attempted.

The album gets off to a frantic start, with two of the faster paced songs, Oblivion and Divinations, opening the album. These two songs demonstrate the pure ruthless energy typical of the bands previous releases. As well as having some of the faster riffs on the album, both songs are also immediately catchy and contain some of the best guitar riffs on the album. After the furiously energetic one two punch of Oblivion and Divinations the more melodic riffs and slower tempo of third track Quintessence feel out of place, and although the track individually is good, it disrupts the flow of the album. Thankfully this is the only case in which a song feels wrong in the context of the album as the rest of the songs are ordered well, and flow into each other nicely.

The multi-parted The Czar is possibly the albums most interesting song. Although it starts slowly, it gradually speeds up and in doing so is a better track for it. The guitar interplay is particularly good throughout the track and the 10+ minute play time is justified by the large amount of variation shown throughout. Sadly the same cannot be said for the other ‘epic’ The Last Baron. Although starting strongly the track is a whopping 13 minutes long and uses the same melody for most of those thirteen minutes. Whilst not a bad melody, the track does get repetitive, and although it too contains plenty of guitar solos and breakdowns it is not enough to stop the track growing old after a few listens.

Where Leviathan had its Herman Melville inspired water based themes and Blood Mountain had a concept devoted to mythical beasts, Crack The Skye too immerses the listener in a conceptual theme. Delving into the realms of space and interstellar travel, the album continues the elemental premise fundamentally based around air, albeit with a little Tsarist Russian imagery thrown in for good measure. Where fire, earth and to a certain extent water can be seen as aggressive elemental principles, the element of air has no such attributes, making the concept radically different to anything the band has previously attempted. Nevertheless by creating a spacey feel to the music and complimenting this with clean vocals and tight song writing Mastodon once again have managed to create a top quality album that passes more than just a fleeting resemblance to the conceptual themes it represents.

Musically Crack The Skye is vastly superior to previous release Blood Mountain. Without ever becoming overwhelmed by the concept, the album has been affected by the calmer elemental hub. The music on offer is categorically not as heavy as on previous records in order to remain effective at displaying the required emotional nuances that the concept requires. Thankfully the stodginess that was an ever-present entity in Blood Mountain is gone, replaced with a more free flowing feel that encapsulates the airy mood. The biggest change musically is the vocals, which have in general improved since Blood Mountain. The fierce vocals that were so prominent in earlier releases are almost non-existent in Crack the Skye, with cleaner passages now lasting for extended periods of time. However as with previous releases the fulcrum of the music is not the vocals but the guitar passages, which thankfully are as technically stunning and intricately woven as ever. Often both guitars play quite different melodies to add multiple layers to the music such as on the The Czar and Ghost Of Karelia.

With Crack The Skye Mastodon have shown that they are maturing as a collective unit, revealing marked improvements in song writing and a more restrained performance whilst still keeping the raw passion and eccentricity that has got them to where they are today. Mastodon are slowly moving away from their sludge metal roots, evolving into a more defined progressive metal band with intricate guitar passages and unorthodox tempo changes undoubtedly playing a more prominent part than in previous releases. Whilst not as heavy as any of their previous albums, Crack the Skye is still an exciting, unpredictable gem of an album and solidifies Mastodon's deserved reputation.

Recommended Tracks
Oblivion
Divinations
The Czar

Overall 4 Excellent



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user ratings (3255)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • ryallen (4)
    More prog than metal, but will be easily appreciated by fans of either....

    crackerjack (5)
    A stone throw away from oblivion....

    Idioteque (5)
    An album to drown in...

    Hernan M. Campbell STAFF (4.7)
    The Mystical, the Heavy, and the Prog....

  • Will Forest (4.5)
    This is the shooting star and the bright halo for all that Mastodon stands for....

    Will C. (4.5)
    Mastodon makes a humongous change in their style and takes the listener into a void of unc...

    sulkenigma (4.5)
    This is an album that can be described as epic with or without any irony......

    Darkvoid67 (3.5)
    Mastodon venture further into the land of prog, and discover their softer side...

  • therayder (4.5)
    A mysterious, haunting, and fantastic journey across the cosmos, courtesy of Mastodon...

    Professor (4)
    Unlike many progressive metal bands, Mastodon just can't stop progressing....

    potsos (4.5)
    Crack the Skye finds Mastodon continuing to tip the scales toward prog-metal vision, clean...

    Edmund Blackadder (4)
    Mastodon create another great album with few flaws that appeals to both old and new fans....

  • quinny1989 (4.5)
    Simply Fantastic....

    Jorn van Schaïk (4)
    If the evolution found on this record is the destiny of Mastodon, then metal's collective ...

    Sean (4.5)
    An amazing successor to the critically acclaimed "Blood Mountain". Mastodon continue their...

    Nick Greer EMERITUS (2)
    A strange journey into the occult that leaves the listener with an earful of amazing riffs...

  • IronGenesis (4.5)
    Crack the Skye is a musically polished output and arguably Mastodon's most technically foc...


Comments:Add a Comment 
lexicons
March 22nd 2009


144 Comments


Leviathan is the only thing that can compare to this. Album still beats the pants off Mastodon's Moby Dick adventure though.

Fugue
March 22nd 2009


7354 Comments


Yeah so this probably isn't the review this album deserves. I think I was a bit sloppy in places and some of the paragraphs don't flow very well. I'll probably conduct a small edit tomorrow to patch the language up a bit.

Digging: Damien Rice - My Favourite Faded Fantasy

DFelon204409
Emeritus
March 22nd 2009


3996 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

There will be a staff review up by the end of tonight fyi. Guess the rating if you dare...

natey
March 22nd 2009


4170 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

1.5

BallsToTheWall
March 22nd 2009


44805 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Mastodon returns in 2009 with a zazzy affair. There are two kinds of records, those with and those without zazz. Fortunately, Mastodon recognizes the need for zazz and fufills the zazzieness wiht unabashed zazz. Whereas Blood Mountain lacked zazz, Crack The Skye put the music on the zazz train to zazzville. Zazzy riffs and vocals combine with a zazzy rythmn section bolstered by zazzy songwriting. Overall, Crack The Skye is an incredibly zazzy event, a fantastic star studded evening of zazz if you will.


Digging: Pink Turns Blue - If Two Worlds Kiss

Phantom
March 22nd 2009


8930 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Zazz overload

Poet
March 22nd 2009


5935 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is probably the album of the year for me right now, and that's sad because this is far from being unbelievable. I have been disappointed by 2009 so far

Fugue
March 22nd 2009


7354 Comments


Yes this is indeed a zazzy album.

Acre
March 22nd 2009


847 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

More zazz than YOUR BODY HAS ROOM FOR!

TricksterGRex
March 22nd 2009


2087 Comments


This is probably the album of the year for me right now, and that's sad because this is far from being unbelievable. I have been disappointed by 2009 so far

Obviously you haven't heard the new Isis.

BallsToTheWall
March 22nd 2009


44805 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Is it zazzier than this?

TricksterGRex
March 22nd 2009


2087 Comments


By far, it's currently on its way to a 5 for me.This Message Edited On 03.22.09

kingsoby1
Emeritus
March 22nd 2009


4951 Comments

Album Rating: 2.3 | Sound Off

this isn't even the best album of march 24th.

BallsToTheWall
March 22nd 2009


44805 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Looks like somebody jumped off the zazz train to zazzville a bit too early. I never really dug Mastodon but I really like this. Hell, I think i'm going out to buy this soon.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
March 22nd 2009


2690 Comments


I'm guessing this is going to be a 2 from Greer.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
March 22nd 2009


15743 Comments


it is an album thats not thrice and that jared or burton didn't review and is hyped by many users and publications so 1-2.5

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
March 22nd 2009


20857 Comments


While I can't exactly say I'm the expert on this band, this was a really good review Ross (worth a pos in fact). I especially liked the way you used the word 'fulcrum'! Haha. You may want to shorten your summary to fit though.

Oh & congrats for getting in first with this review... Especially since it may be on its way to creating a record for the most amount of Sound-Offs!



mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
March 22nd 2009


17944 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i'm guessing a rating of i'm a faggot from nick greer

elephantREVOLUTION
March 22nd 2009


2784 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i have been waiting for someone to review this. great album and great review!

charlesfishtitz
March 22nd 2009


784 Comments


chan, i love you


cannot wait to get this in the mails



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