Crack the Skye



by Darkvoid67 USER (31 Reviews)
December 15th, 2010 | 14 replies

Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Mastodon venture further into the land of prog, and discover their softer side

Back in 2002 and with their fantastic debut “Remission”, it would not have been an understatement to say that Mastodon caused something of a stir. What the metal scene had stumbled across was a band not afraid to play loud, technically difficult progressive metal with enough catchiness to make the listener come back for more. Yet behind the tough man exterior, the band seemed willing to venture further into their progressive side and add complexity and soft acoustics to their macho metal songs, and some 7 years and 3 albums later, the band reach the peak of their progressive tendencies. While “Crack the Skye” is certainly impressive on a technical level, you can’t help but get the feeling that Mastodon tried to outdo themselves just a little bit too much, and produce an album that seems to pale in comparison to the rest of their discography.

Nonetheless, for saying that this album was written by lead singer and guitarist Brett Hinds who apparently spent the whole pre-production process smoking pot on his sofa and wore nothing but his underwear, the musical quality on display is fantastic. The opening banjo on single “Divinations” and spidering lead guitar playing over the deep, gruff rhythmic section provide us with one of Mastodon’s best songs to date, and one of their most accomplished. Brann Dailor, whose sister is meant to be inspiration for part of the album, puts in yet another solid effort through and through and the harmonisation between Hinds and Troy Sanders works to great effect. In some ways, this is probably Mastodon’s most impressive release to date, as everything from the album art and cinematic music videos right through to the ridiculous concept are nothing short of ambitious.

However, it can easily be argued that this is their worst release to date, as some tracks are simply throwaways that will make you bother why the band couldn’t cut this release down to 5 epics. One horrible offender is “Quintessence”. Admittedly, it has a tough job following on from “Divinations” but right from the beginning it just sounds incredibly poor. Distorted guitars build up to very little, and it seems to lay the main focus upon Brett Hinds, who with every single release seems to insist on using his eternal Ozzy-esque wail to even greater extents. And while he is not an atrocious singer, one is just longing for him and Troy Sanders to break out the dual vocals present of “Oblivion” and “Divinations” and stick with it. The aforementioned track seems almost thrown in to please the hardcore fan base, as it sounds akin to “Iron Tusk” from 2005 Magnus opus “Leviathan” but it just does not fit with the albums overall nature. Instead of the swift, galloping leads and wails present on every song before it, it relies upon sludgy riffs and screams to convey itself which just doesn’t sound right. Yet, once taken out of the context of the album it sounds rather good.

Thankfully, Mastodon saves the best for last with “The Last Baron”, a song that builds upon layers of beautiful acoustics, organs and militaristic drums into a thirteen epic that tells the tale of the downfall of the elite within Russia. The fantastic leads yet again take prominence, Hinds wail finally fits the music and the build-up to the end of the end of the song is easily one of the most effective Mastodon has ever done. If any two tracks need to be downloaded from this album, aim for this and “Divinations”.

Perhaps the best word to sum up Mastodon’s fourth studio effort is “inconsistent”. Thankfully, for most of the time the band are firing on all four cylinders, providing psychedelic hard rock that allows the listener to get lost in the midst of it for days. At other times, the album throws up mediocre and even cringe-worthy lumps of fodder that scream filler and simply do not need to present. While Mastodon’s ambition largely pays off of this, their fourth studio effort, you have to ask the question of just what turn will this impressive four-piece take next. Hopefully not one quite like this.

Recommended Tracks:
1. Divinations
2. The Czar (ii. Escape and iii. Martyr)
3. Ghost of Karelia
4. The Last Baron

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user ratings (4031)
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • 204409 EMERITUS (2)
    A strange journey into the occult that leaves the listener with an earful of amazing riffs...

    SgtPepper STAFF (4.7)
    The Mystical, the Heavy, and the Prog....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    quinny1989 (4.5)
    Simply Fantastic....

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

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

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

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

  • ryallen (4)
    More prog than metal, but will be easily appreciated by fans of either....

Comments:Add a Comment 
December 15th 2010


Album Rating: 3.5

Originally had this as a 4.5 kinda grew off me with time. Still good though

December 15th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

this grew off me as well, I may bring it down to a 3.5

December 15th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0


Ah forget it it's not even funny anymore.

So yeah album's great and so is review etc pos'd

December 15th 2010


Album Rating: 4.5

Never listened to Mastodon before, but this album is excellent! I like every song...except at 6:00 into The Last Baron....what is this? Jazz?

December 15th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

what is this? jazzzz?

December 15th 2010


Album Rating: 4.5


December 15th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

I thought I read somewhere that he thought up ideas for this album when he busted his head open tackling shavo from SOAD.

Digging: Verdun - The Eternal Drift's Canticles

Crimson Death
December 16th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

Dude, you recommended almost all the tracks but the best 2! Oblivion and title track. Album is great.

December 16th 2010


Album Rating: 3.5

I read he had charges pressed against him for that. I remember reading it in kerrang, so its probably wrong

December 16th 2010


Album Rating: 4.5

Ha, the second review under a 4.

December 16th 2010


Album Rating: 4.5

Good review too.

December 16th 2010


Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks dude

December 16th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

haters gon hate. I really like this album. Good review.

December 31st 2010


Album Rating: 4.5

I don't agree with your review and I find it bizarre that you are so severe with them and give 3.5 anyway. It seems like you liked every song except Quintessence. You recommend 4 tracks (I imagine that you also recommend Oblivion and the title track) album is all good? No? There is a kind of discordance between your review and the rate that you gave.

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