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Mastodon - Crack The Skye CD (album) cover

CRACK THE SKYE

Mastodon

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.11 | 619 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

xenuwantsyou
4 stars As usual, the review section for the latest mastodon album is full of musings and doubts about the progressivness of the album. A just question as this is a progressive rock website, but one that is most often given a disappointing verdict. The songs aren't long enough, the tempo shifts and time signatures changes aren't enough (or random and pointless from the perspective of this reviewer). But I'll skip that typical and tiresome argument with the simple conclusion that progressive is an approach and attitude, not a sound or structure.

With that out of the way, Mastodon has produced their finest ALBUM yet. Whereas Leviathan, Blood Mountain, and Remission have all produced quality songs and listens, only Leviathan was a consistent record, and at that point the bands sound was repetitive, albeit fresh. With Crack the Skye, the band has reached a new height in creativity and songwriting. Finally they have produced an album that never steps outside of itself, yet manages to surpass the sum of the whole. There are some songs on here that are not as strong as the others. The first song, Oblivion, is a pleasant mid tempo dirge that establishes the ethereal mood of the album, but reveals most of itself on the first listen. The first single, Divinations, plays out much like something on Blood Mountain (i.e. Crystal skull). But instead of simply finding a riff and chugging away, the band has replaced hardness with heaviness and novelty with emotion. But in spite of their short commings, these two songs don't drag the album down.

One of several things is clear: the individual members of the band have easily improved their musicianship since in the last several years. Drummer Brann Dailor has toned down the whirlwind drumming in favor of groove, and it pays huge dividends on tracks like Ghost of Karelia and Crack the Skye. The former in particular is the finest rhythmic achievement of the band thus far. Lead guitarist Brent Hinds continues to write even better melodies and solos. The third track, Quintessence shows of his penchant for atmosphere. We saw hints of this melodic and more emotional side on tracks like Sleeping Giant, this Mortal Soil, and even as far back as Hearts Alive. But it had never been a focal point on an album. And it's not that the lyrics have become corny love ballads. The subject matter remains as wacky as ever. The singing however has become better. And I mean better in a Peter Gabriel kind of way. Lets face it, the guy didn't have the best voice in the world, but he could make even the most stone faced prog lover weep with the way he could evoke feelings and images.

This brings me to my final point. The song The Last Baron is the band's greatest achievement yet. it epitomizes everything the band was going for on this album. It's technically challenging, melodic, tasteful, and most of all gut wrenchingly emotional. I feel tired after every listen, but in the good I've just completed an incredible task kind of way.

In short, a fantastic album in which Mastodon has refused to be pigeonholed into a genre and have challenged themselves and their listeners to change. Instead of only rocking out full time they have decided to appeal to a more human side and have succeeded in moving at least this reviewer.

Who's it for: A fan of spacey metal and/or heavy prog. Who's it not for: the metal head who's just looking to get a few chugs and grunts out.

4.5/5

xenuwantsyou | 4/5 |

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