Mastodon
Crack the Skye


4.7
superb

Review

by Hernan M. Campbell STAFF
March 6th, 2012 | 49 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Mystical, the Heavy, and the Prog.

Progressive rock has always been one of my favorite musical genres. The level of artistry that goes into the music is just unparalleled. The hypnotic ambience that are created by the instruments, and of course, the long musical voyages that were taken to. The artists create a new world, a musical haven, and having us descend into an abstract realm of elaborate musicianship. It's like the musicians develop this personal relationship with the instrument, letting the sounds express what's in their soul and translate it into some of the most incredible music ever written. The sound of Progressive rock is often complex, yet at times delicate, and that's because it's all about creating an almost trancing element. The music consumes the listener within a spectrum of sounds and moods that often beguile the mind in a splendor of uncanny artistry. During the 1980's a multitude of Heavy Metal acts began fusing the abrasive sound of Heavy Metal, with the innovative nature of Progressive Rock. It was a natural coalescence, to say the least, as it brought forth an array of possibilities to both genres.

The earlier albums by Mastodon have always been known for their aggressive sound, every song contained a powerful delivery with such intense ferocity, though even then there was always a more abstract element present in their music. Songs like "Elephant Man" from Remission and "Hearts Alive" from Leviathan, exhibit Mastodon's growing appreciation for Progressive dynamics, particularly the tendency for extended instrumental passages. Their third album, Blood Mountain, was a major transitional period for Mastodon musically as we saw them diverging from the more aggressive and heavier sound of the previous albums, and embracing a more experimental agenda with more eminent usage of ambient decorations in the music.

Crack The Skye is the album where Mastodon fully embrace their Progressive influences. There is a gloomy shadow that casts throughout this album, darkening it's content. Crack The Skye has us embark on a new tale to be told by Mastodon, this one being rich with mysticism and explorations of the mysterious spiritual realms. The album begins with "Oblivion", which opens with an ambient guitar arrangement and then descends into a more restrained sound of Sludge Metal, it's very reminiscent to the overall sound of Blood Mountain. The lyrics of "Oblivion" serve as the epilogue to the concept story behind the album. The narrator is describing his own death as he slowly loses consciousness and descends into the unknown dimensions of afterlife, which is represented by the instruments as they fade into silence. Though the story opens with the death of our protagonist, this is only the beginning. Within "Divinations" and"Quintessence", we find that the music is now much more darker and aggressive, reflecting the turmoil that the narrator has found himself in. We discover that the narrator is now a conscious spirit floating through the mysterious realms of Limbo, he is then brought into the conscious world through a mystic ritual but only to find a multitude of obstacles that await him in this metaphysical odyssey.

And now we descend into a more haunting atmosphere decorated with cosmic sounds. "The Czar" opens with an ominous warning. Through mystical transcendence, the protagonist finds himself in midst of the Russian revolution. His soul has now possessed the physical body of the spiritual advisor to the Czarist royal family, Grigori Rasputin. "The Czar", is Rasputin's warning to the royal family of the horrid events that will evidently await them. "Ghost Of Karelia" and "The Last Baron" seem to serve as cryptic reflections of the war between the supporters of the Czar and the new rebel army that would take Russia into a Communist society. The album finale seems to be narrated by the Czar, who has now seen that his army has failed, and is now coming to terms with the fact that he will die, and his kingdom will evidently soon follow him into oblivion.

Now, to refer to the instrumental elements of the album, we see Mastodon at their most restrained. And that's because this album is not about frantic guitars and hard hitting drums. The music's delicacy and emphasis on gloomy ambience is to reflect the melancholic theme that coats this album. Death is present in every single track on the album, especially the title track, "Crack The Skye". The song is a tribute to the sister of drummer, Brann Dailor, who tragically took her own life. "Crack The Skye", the song, doesn't consciously fit in with the Czarist/mystical concept that is present in the rest of the songs, but overall it reflects the theme of death and the experience of dying which serves as the ubiquitous theme of the album. For the most part, we find the same old Mastodon sound that is present in the past album. Songs like "Divinations" and "Crack The Skye" are a reflection of the band's more aggressive roots. The progressive element is quite subtle in most songs, they all contain atmospheric elements decorated in psychedelia that evidently make the songs feel more mellow, but it's most prominent in the lengthier tracks.

"The Czar" and "The Last Baron" share similar aesthetics in structure. Both songs are musical voyages, but they differ in sound. "The Czar" is much more dark, driven by an ominous melodic texture. Whereas, "The Last Baron", is much more versatile in mood and sound, displaying numerous musical structures, ranging from a delicate ambience to a more powerful delivery that brings Dream Theater to mind one several occasions. The interesting factor in both songs is that despite their length, they don't contain any long instrumental passages that is found in typical Progressive music as vocal deliveries are often present throughout, which make the songs feel shorter during the listening experience. It's tough to say how Mastodon fans will view this album. Clocking in at 50 minutes and containing only 7 songs, something that isn't uncommon in typical Progressive albums, may divert a few fans. This is definitely Mastodon at their "Proggiest", but the sound isn't too different from anything we've heard before. I highly encourage this album to any Mastodon fan, and especially any enthusiast of Progressive music. When given the attention it requires, this album proves to be an unbelievable listening experience.



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user ratings (3272)
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...

    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 Scha├»k (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 
SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
March 6th 2012


4458 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

an old review that has been sitting in my laptop for months, i finally got the courage to uploaded. i hope you guys like it, it's one of my favorite albums.

any suggestions on constructive criticism is highly welcomed.

AtavanHalen
March 6th 2012


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

not too bad, seen a lot worse written about mastodon

they were so good live last week

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
March 6th 2012


4458 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

@ AtavanHalen
Saw them with The Mars Volta. Stoned most of the concert but it was awesome.

TheVoiceAndTheSnake
March 6th 2012


3663 Comments


Review is well written

Pos'd

AtavanHalen
March 6th 2012


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

they played here in australia with gojira and kvelertak

was brutal

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
March 6th 2012


4458 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

Australia? Have you heard/or seen Wolfmother or Tame Impala live? I am dying to see those guys live. I love them.

AtavanHalen
March 6th 2012


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

seen wolfmother twice and tame impala once before they got ginormous

wolfmother are a v. guilty pleasure

not a ti fan

lostforwords
March 6th 2012


446 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Pos for the first 5 for this incredible record.

Glad to hear they are now good live, It has always been their weakness

FrasierCrane
March 6th 2012


13 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Progressive Rock has always been one of my favorite musical genres, the level of artistry that goes into the music is just unparalleled.


The hypnotic ambience that are created by the instruments, and of course, those long musical voyages that were taken to.


The earlier albums by Mastodon have always been known for their aggressive sound, every song contained such a powerful delivery with such intense ferocity.

Ah, never mind; I'd be copy-pasting every other sentence. Do you read your reviews before you submit them?



SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
March 6th 2012


4458 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

^ Wait what are you trying to say? bad? good? i assume youre the where the neg came from, so i assume you dont like those sentences.

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
March 6th 2012


4458 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

Oh man, are you Paxman? and if you are, why are you trolling my reviews? I have never even spoken to you, or offended you. I'm
not even upset by your constant negs, i just want to know why youre trolling me.

conesmoke
March 6th 2012


5288 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Great review man, Mastodon absolutely rock. Crack the skye, leviathan and Remission are my faves. Divinations is a reaaaaaallly good song!

TooLateToGoBack
March 6th 2012


1780 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review. Been meaning to check this out once I'm done with "The Hunter".

Have a POS. Well written stuff.

Piglet
March 6th 2012


4665 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I didn't have a clue about the album's concept before reading this which is a shame because I have a deep fascination for esoteric beliefs. It is well written, looking forward to some more reviews from you! Pos'd!

booreno62
March 6th 2012


69 Comments


So tired of hearing about this band. Most overrated band in the metal scene right now.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
March 6th 2012


24098 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

this was a huge album for me when it came out. reminds me of backpacking South America.

Digging: Mitski - bury me at makeout creek

AtomicShane
March 6th 2012


1947 Comments


oblivion is such an awesome song

Scrambled
March 6th 2012


392 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

have a pos, def love this album

DeadBeat
March 6th 2012


529 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The only album I really enjoy from this band

DeadBeat
March 6th 2012


529 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Although Leviathan is good too



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