Review Summary: An amazing successor to the critically acclaimed "Blood Mountain". Mastodon continue their awesome musicianship, but also bring more experimentation into their already amazing and one of a kind sound.
Once in a while, a band releases an album that sounds quite different from their other albums. Sometimes this is good and sometimes it is quite bad. Opeth released "Watershed" last year, and while being much different sounding from their other albums, it was a good transition and change from some of their past stuff. However, other bands have released albums that have strayed very far away from their beloved original sound, such as Cryptopsy with the release of the horrid "The Unspoken King". What I am getting at is that sometimes it works and sometimes it just simply doesn't. However, that has not stopped the critically acclaimed Mastodon from deciding to mellow out their sound on their newest album "Crack The Skye".
"Crack The Skye" is very different from a lot of Mastodon's past albums. Sure, the band continues to use the odd lyrical concepts, but many fans will be the first to tell you that Mastodon sound much different on the new album than they did on "Blood Mountain". Many of Brent Hinds' harsh vocals are gone, only showing up once in a while. However, with the absence of Brent's harsh vocals comes the introduction of more singing. Many songs on this album show off just how fantastic of a vocal duo Hinds and bassist Troy Sanders are. Oblivion, the albums kick-off song, makes a nice transition from a pretty heavy verse section into a chorus section that truly shows off Brent's singing skills. Another song, Divinations, shows off just how far of a range Troy has. "Crack The Skye" is another song that really shows off both Brent and Troy's abilities to sing. Vocal harmonies abound on this song, and truly sound absolutely amazing. To me, the singing on this album is much more impressive than Mastodon's previous efforts.
One of the biggest changes about Mastodon's sound on "Crack The Skye" is that the album comes off as very Progressive. While Mastodon has always been considered as a Progressive/Sludge Metal band, this album pretty much sets this notion in stone. The instruments, like always, are pretty technical and impressive, and the whole sound of the album just comes off as straight up Prog Metal. I was especially surprised to hear many instruments that took me right off guard. The addition of keyboards was quite impressive and well done and only added greatly to the abstract sound of this album. The banjo at the beginning of Divinations, while short lived, is another example of Mastodon experimenting with different instruments to further their already abstract approach to Metal. Honestly, I think that's what truly impresses me most about this album. Mastodon's approach to experimentation is extremely prominent on this album, and while their sound is most undoubtedly truly their own original sound, it still comes off as much different from their older stuff.
Continuing on the awesome instrumentation on this album, Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher, as always, absolutely shine on "Crack The Skye". Killer riffs, searing solo's and experimental sounding licks abound on this album. Of course, these two guitar maniacs never disappoint. With every new Mastodon album, I always look to hearing the awesome riffs and solo's these guys have to bring to the table. I'm not going to give Brent and Bill the spotlight, however. Troy Sanders and Brann Dailor truly are wonderful at their instruments. Dailor, in my opinion, is certainly one of the most impressive drummers Rock has to offer. Troy, on the other hand, is often overlooked as an amazing bassist because of his status as co-vocalist with Brent Hinds, but he is quite good. Overall, the instrumentation on "Crack The Skye" is absolutely amazing. I expected nothing less from this group of virtuosos.
In conclusion, this album truly did not disappoint. I honestly think this new sound Mastodon is taking will only begin to improve more in the future. It absolutely amazes me that this band continues to get better and better with every single new release. I'm already psyched about their next album! The band just continues to amaze me. Fans of Mastodon should absolutely love this album, but fans of Metal as a whole will definitely find something to like here, whether they respect the band or not.