Mastodon
Crack the Skye


4.5
superb

Review

by therayder USER (1 Reviews)
July 23rd, 2010 | 23 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A mysterious, haunting, and fantastic journey across the cosmos, courtesy of Mastodon

There comes a time in any successful band’s career when they reach a fork in the road of their musical journey. Should they continue manufacturing the same type of music that gave birth to their fandom, or should they innovate and change their sound? Some bands fall prey to the first road, constantly re-hashing the same material until they begin to copy themselves, while others drift too far away from their core and lose what made them special in the first place. However, the best bands can marry these two options; keeping the basis of their sound while evolving musically and introducing new concepts and techniques. Mastodon demonstrates that they are such a band with their fourth LP, Crack the Skye.

Mastodon’s progressive tendencies have grown with each successive album, tipping the scale of extreme metal and progressive metal towards the latter side with their latest offering. The explosive technical blasts found in Leviathan and Blood Mountain, while not missing by any means, are rarer, instead being complemented with atmospheric riffs and vocal harmonies. The harsh vocals of previous albums have also been refined into actual singing by a number of the band members, with demonic voices and wrenching cries populating the seven songs on the album. Album opener “Oblivion” is a great showcase for the band’s new-found singing aptitude, trading vocal responsibilities between bassist Troy Sanders, guitarist Brent Hinds, and drummer Brann Dailor. The track is slower and more grunge-influenced than expected, but ultimately succeeds as a fantastic sample of the band’s new sound. The harsh vocals are not entirely gone, as they provide a chilling accompaniment with the title track’s atmospheric riffs. The raging beast that was contained inside their former albums has been transformed into a lumbering, Lovecraftian demon; slower, but more frightening and fiendishly malevolent.

Mastodon’s signature progressive guitar riffs and solos are still abundantly present in Crack in the Skye, from the raging twin guitars in “Divinations” to the all-out technical bombast of the latter parts of “The Last Baron”. Dailor’s drumming, while not the manic pounds of Leviathan or Blood Mountain, is excellent and provides the brooding tracks with a concise, jazz-influenced backbone. Their songwriting has improved as well, as evidenced in what may be one of their greatest songs, the epic “The Czar”. Containing a dark acoustic beginning punctuated by Hinds’ repeated “Don’t stay, run away”, a collection of chugging riffs, and an explosive finale, The Last Baron is a stunning example Mastodon’s musical abilities.

Continuing their tradition of “elemental” albums (Remission-Fire, Leviathan-Water, Blood Mountain-Earth), Crack the Skye is the album of “ether”, the element that supposedly makes up the cosmos. In their latest offering, Mastodon take their far-fetched fantasy concepts to space, telling a fractured tale about a paraplegic who travels out of his body and into the spirit realm, only to be summoned by Russian occultists. Like all of Mastodon’s concepts, the story and lyrics are not Shakespeare or even that easy to follow; the lyrics have always taken a backseat to the furious music. Conveying emotion has been left to the instruments to achieve thus far. However, parts of Crack the Skye exude a sort of frustrated sorrow, due to the album’s dedication to Dailor’s little sister Skye’s suicide at age 14. In Oblivion, the sorrowful Dailor sings “How can I tell you I failed?”, a simple line that nonetheless gives an extra emotional aspect to the song. Title track “Crack the Skye” features a personal favorite line “Please tell Lucifer he can't have this one/Her spirit’s too strong”, revealing a little more of the scar left by Skye’s suicide.

Mastodon seem to be set on the progressive path, dedicating themselves to pushing their music into unexplored territory while keeping their collective soul intact. Crack the Skye is a haunting, fantastic album that showcases an amazing band at the high of their career continuing to pursue personal and musical evolution. This album should not be missed by any progressive metal fan, and could be a good starting point for those seeking to dive into the mysterious world of thinking man’s metal.

Rating: 4.5/5


user ratings (3203)
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...

  • 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...

  • Fugue (4)
    Crack the Skye is Mastodon's proggiest album to date, showing a vast maturity in the band ...


Comments:Add a Comment 
therayder
July 23rd 2010


487 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

First review, advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Sputnik

eternium
July 23rd 2010


16338 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Excellent review. Just italicize album names.

fromtheinside
July 23rd 2010


18219 Comments


i have such a love hate relationship with this album.

Digging: Tragedy - Vengeance

Tulannical
July 23rd 2010


2051 Comments


same.

therayder
July 23rd 2010


487 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

@eternium: Thanks man, and I'll make sure to do that in future reviews

maidenpmcc
July 23rd 2010


1424 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

LOVE this album, no other way of describing it................

kangaroopoo
July 23rd 2010


3175 Comments


Excellent review and album. A really enjoyable and emotional listening experience.

Captain North
July 23rd 2010


6787 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Listened to this for the first time yesterday...really wasn't that impressed. First few songs are solid, but it gets boring quickly.

TheSpirit
July 23rd 2010


17834 Comments


MASTODON GUITAR SOLO

Digging: Arizmenda - Stillbirth in the Temple of Venus

MasBarHigeuoris21
July 23rd 2010


1581 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I love this album and I love Mastodon. Good job on the review. However, when you mention, Their songwriting has improved as well, as evidenced in what may be one of their greatest songs, the epic “The Last Baron”. Containing a dark acoustic beginning punctuated by Hinds’ repeated “Don’t stay, run away”, that song is not "The Last Baron". That song is "The Czar". You also forget to put "of" in your sentence, "The Last Baron is a stunning example Mastodon’s musical abilities". Other than those minor flaws great review.

bloc
July 23rd 2010


34852 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Been a while since I gave this a spin, but then again the longer songs on this are terrible.

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

ShadowRemains
July 23rd 2010


20723 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

OMG A MASTODON GUI....

oops wrong album

oh well....

QUé HERMOSO! UN SOLO DE LA GUITARRA DEL MASTODONTE!

Digging: Banks - Goddess

coneren
July 23rd 2010


11111 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Will POS for first review

qwe3
July 23rd 2010


21362 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

haha oh wow

ABR157
July 24th 2010


146 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Very, very well done for a first review. I thought some of the sentences tried to cover a bit too much ground/content. But still an excellent first write-up. Have a Pos.

ShinXetsu
July 24th 2010


605 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Consider your review pos'd. Haven't given this album a spin in a while, think it's about I gave it some more playtime.

Jim
July 24th 2010


5110 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

album's alright, but far from skluflaksehlkedfdsjkfjewnwr';SDF

HenchmanOfSanta
July 24th 2010


1866 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Somebody already mentioned it, but you described the Czar instead of the Last Baron--at least the lyrics.

therayder
July 24th 2010


487 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Yeah, stupid mistake on my part. I edited it.

And thanks for all the positive's guys, very appreciated

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
July 24th 2010


7338 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Excellent first review, pos'd.

Love this album, i might have to bump it to a 4.5 soon. It's even better when they play it live.



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