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Mastodon - Crack The Skye CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.11 | 619 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Yes, baby, yes. This is 'A'-rate material.

With three cult albums at their back and a major label backing them it's actually something of a surprise that Crack The Skye is Mastodon's most 'progressive' album to date. A lot of core fans have said that the album takes the band and veers them too near typical 'alt-metal' territory, but if the changes be braved, this is an incredible ride that can be listened to on repeat if need be... And need be.

The album is constructed out of a number of mid-lengthed and longer numbers - and being that Mastodon has always succeeded at both on previous albums, this seems like a natural progression for them. While the songs on the album don't necessarily need to be long to be impressive, there's still a couple of "epics" to balance out the shorter songs on the album - One for every three short songs, so it seems. But even the short songs seem to have matured from the band's old Remission days, when songs like Mothr Puncher and Blood And Thunder where the standard. Things kick off to a roaring start with the frightening chords of Oblivion that soon turn into a godly riff and an introduction of the band's new style. While their obvious Extreme Progressive Metal qualities are all still in tact, it seems that the band has torn a page out of Black Sabbath's book (especially in terms of the secondary vocals) and added a certain amount of 'doom' to their songs. This makes things seem a lot less chaotic than their older albums (which some fans may miss), but is ultimately the best step that the band could have taken for the direction of their music.

From here things only get better. The first single for the album, Divinations, is truly a sight to behold as it gets into gear with even more rocking riffs and some intense vocals that only add to the mix. Quintessence is another song that continues the shorter tune's opening trio of barrage metal, blending with the first two to create what almost turns into a suite. On the second half of the album the short songs continue to rock, although getting a lot less immediately accessible as they go. Ghost Of Karelia is another brooding tune with a lot of atmosphere while the title track, Crack The Skye is a catastrophic sounding song that has the desperate vocals trying to keep up with the increasingly dramatic instrumental section. Excellently done.

Of course, this isn't taking into account the two most impressive pieces on the album. The long songs really steal the show here, and while it is pretty typical of a progressive rock journalist to publish this (obligatory, perhaps), it's still truly impressive that a band of Mastodon's caliber, signed to a record label like Warner Bros, is capable of pulling off such opuses without creative impediment or compromise. The Czar, clocking at just over 10-minutes, is easily the album's peak, combining amazing vocal lines and time changes with air-guitar-worthy riffs and metal sections. It's hard not to be impressed or feel the shivers run down your spine at the call of, ''By the light of the moon, you must escape into the deep black of the night, fight the devil inside''. The Last Baron is also impressive, if perhaps a little bit more relaxed than its predecessor, doing exactly the same things to a slightly different formula ? while it may not pack exactly the same punch as The Czar, it still stands as one of the band's most impressive songs, rivaling the likes of even Hearts Alive from their Leviathan album. All in all an amazing album, which has stolen this reviewer's heart for pick of the litter for 2009. It's going to be a tough disc to beat, especially 6 months into the year already. Competitors may still exist, but this one is definitely a must. If you're a Mastodon fan then prepare yourself for a little more polish, and if you've never liked anything released by the band to this point then I still encourage that you give the album a shot, you'll be happily surprised. 5 scorching stars out of 5 ? amazing.

Queen By-Tor | 5/5 |


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