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MASTODON

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • United States


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Mastodon biography
MASTODON was formed in 1999 when Brann Dailor (drums) and Bill Kelliher (guitars),former members of TODAY IS THE DAY and LETHARGY emmigrated to Atlanta from their native Rochester,New York and met Brent Hinds (guitars,vocals) and Troy Sanders (bass,vocals).In 2000 they recorded a demo that is referred to as the "9 song demo",which actually featured the bands first lead singer Eric Saner on vocals.This recording was remastered and released by Relapse Records with the title "Call of the Mastodon" in 2006.After a short time Saner left the band due to personal reasons and MASTODON signed with Relapse in 2001.

The bands first official release was the well received "Lifesblood" EP in 2001,but since then the band has moved away from the music of this release stylistically.In 2002 MASTODON released their first official full-length album "Remission".

2004 heralded the release of Leviathan,a concept album loosely based on Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick.This is the album that steers MASTODON'S music away from the sludge/post-hardcore sound and sees the band experimenting and becoming more progressive.It is impressively well constructed,with each song flowing into the next,giving it a very natural feel.With slower,chunkier riffs,odd-time rhythms,cleaner vocals and a better production,it also contains a bona-fide epic with the 13 minute track "Hearts Alive".This album is literally driven by Dailor's hyperactive,fill-happy jazz/progressive style melded seamlessly with Sanders bass work,Kelliher's and Hinds' intricate and complex riffs and Sander's and Hind's alternating clean and growling vocals to tell the tale.

In 2005 two forthcoming releases were announced,the aforementioned "Call of the Mastodon",and the "The Workhorse Chronicles",a DVD containing interviews and concert footage,including material from the band's early days as a five-piece.Both were released in 2006.This effectively ended MASTODON'S deal with Relapse Records.

In 2006 MASTODON released their third full-length album "Blood Mountain",which was originally planned as one long piece of music,but which later became a collection of individual songs rather than another full blown concept album.The album contains guest appearances from NEUROSIS vocalist Scott Kelly,QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE'S Josh Homme and Cedric Bixler-Zavala of THE MARS VOLTA.

MASTODON'S greatest strength is their ability to explore the progressive and experimental side of the metal coin while keeping t...
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Buy MASTODON Music


Cold Dark PlaceCold Dark Place
Reprise 2017
$5.14
$5.58 (used)
Crack the Skye [Vinyl]Crack the Skye [Vinyl]
Reprise 2009
$13.96
$16.55 (used)
Emperor Of SandEmperor Of Sand
Reprise 2017
$6.79
$3.99 (used)
Once More 'Round The SunOnce More 'Round The Sun
Reprise 2014
$11.74
$3.98 (used)
Blood Mountain [Vinyl]Blood Mountain [Vinyl]
Reprise 2010
$13.99
$18.51 (used)
LeviathanLeviathan
Relapse 2005
$10.03
$3.75 (used)
The Hunter (Vinyl)The Hunter (Vinyl)
Reprise 2011
$15.72
$14.93 (used)
Remission Deluxe ReissueRemission Deluxe Reissue
Relapse 2014
$10.01
$10.02 (used)
Asleep In The Deep (12Asleep In The Deep (12" Vinyl Picture Disc)
Reprise 2015
$10.89
$17.24 (used)
The Hunter (Red Colored Vinyl)The Hunter (Red Colored Vinyl)
Reprise 2015
$18.33
$11.60 (used)
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MASTODON discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

MASTODON top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.51 | 171 ratings
Remission
2002
3.88 | 325 ratings
Leviathan
2004
3.72 | 331 ratings
Blood Mountain
2006
4.08 | 588 ratings
Crack The Skye
2009
3.72 | 386 ratings
The Hunter
2011
3.64 | 173 ratings
Once More 'Round The Sun
2014
3.71 | 77 ratings
Emperor Of Sand
2017

MASTODON Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.57 | 38 ratings
Live at the Aragon
2011

MASTODON Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.00 | 10 ratings
The Workhorse Chronicles: The Early Years, 2000 - 2005
2011

MASTODON Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.36 | 31 ratings
Call Of The Mastodon
2006

MASTODON Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.03 | 18 ratings
Lifesblood
2001
3.16 | 13 ratings
Divinations
2009
3.80 | 11 ratings
Oblivion EP
2009
3.22 | 24 ratings
Jonah Hex: Revenge Gets Ugly EP
2010
2.50 | 11 ratings
Curl of the Burl
2011
4.25 | 8 ratings
Black Tongue
2011
2.92 | 21 ratings
Cold Dark Place
2017

MASTODON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Cold Dark Place by MASTODON album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2017
2.92 | 21 ratings

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Cold Dark Place
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

3 stars It is said that this EP originally was conceived as a Brent Hinds solo album. Die-hard MASTODON fans might be disappointed or maybe even upset. No reason to be biased though, as this is my first encounter with the band, for what I can remember. And, if well crafted, I do like such stuff in general. Anyway, heavy prog songs are given here, the focus is more on melody and atmosphere instead of shredding, brachial, thrashy metal riffs. Well, this move is not really surprisingly new, other bands like Opeth or Pain Of Salvation are brothers in arms here. Who really is keen on being repetitive in style again and again? And so the opening song North Side Star delivers a somewhat southern rock style, amongst other things due to the use of a pedal steel guitar.

The title track even unfolds a slight psychedelic orientation, multiple acoustic and electric guitar input plus extraordinary solo right towards the end. Super! If there is a minus ever, unfortunately the cover picture is too much darkened when it comes to me. Yes, this matches to the global design according to the album title. But you are not really able to explore the painting's expensive details, too bad. Though the main conclusion is that 'Cold Dark Place' offers four enjoyable songs in a highly melodic heavy rocking manner, coming closer to bands like Magnum, Tiles, Zip Tang instead of genuine prog metal. 3.5 stars.

 Cold Dark Place by MASTODON album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2017
2.92 | 21 ratings

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Cold Dark Place
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

2 stars Following 2017's full release album "Emperor Of The Sand," Atlanta based sludge metal outfit MASTODON gave hardcore fans another slice of their unreleased material on this four track EP titled COLD DARK PLACE which came out in September digitally and on CD but also as a limited edition ten-inch vinyl edition that came out at the end of October 2017.

COLD DARK PLACE is basically the leftover tracks from the band's last two album session. "North Side Star," "Blue Walsh" and the title track all date back to 2014 from the "Once More 'Round The Sun" sessions and "Toe To Toes" comes from the latest "Emperor Of Sand" sessions.

There is nothing on this EP that you wouldn't expect. Nothing here is experimental or out of the parameters of the band's established style that was displayed on the retrospective albums that these were initially recorded for. MASTODON has been toning down the heaviness in their music ever since the 2011 album "The Hunter" and COLD DARK PLACE shows the band continuing their journey into less metal territory with more emphasis on progressive rock.

While most tracks are on the borderline of progressive rock and metal, "Toe To Toes" is exceptionally mellow for MASTODON's overall sound. There are more clean vocals displayed on this EP than on any proper album. Overall i'm not too keen on MASTODON's direction that they've been going.

While metal bands mellowing out and going prog rock isn't anything new or something i'm against in any way, MASTODON seems to be getting stale with super predictable tunes that cruise on auto pilot. This EP is okay with nothing being offensive but i find it quite boring compared to the greatness they unleashed a decade ago.

2.5 but rounded DOWN!!!

 Crack The Skye by MASTODON album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.08 | 588 ratings

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Crack The Skye
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Sinusoid
Prog Reviewer

5 stars My familiarity with Mastodon began in 2012 when I knew they were a big thing in heavy metal at the time but wasn't familiar with their body of work. Flash forward 6 years, and I've grown more well-versed in their work. Enough to figure out kind of a pattern. Every one of their albums seems to slip at some point with a mediocre or forgettable riff that tends to ruin the flow of the album. I don't know quite what it is, but every time I listen to a Mastodon album, some part of it tends to daydream and dips in quality making the album lesser than what it could be given the power and talent of the band.

Every album except this one. This is an all-killer, no-filler album and their magnum opus.

If you want to know why Mastodon is considered a progressive metal band, Crack the Skye is the definitive argument. They've made epics before, experimented with time signatures and toyed with lofty concepts before, but not in the grand scale like this before or since. By far, it is one of the most cinematically epic sounding ablums the genre has given the world, and it matches the ridiculous concept.

To give you an idea of the storyline behind the album, the first track along describes an Icarus situation (winged man flies too close to the sun which melts his wings, but with a umbilical cord in this case) crossed with astral projection that ends up falling into a black hole. Later on in the story, the title character ends up in Imperialist Russia possessing Rasputin. It is mammothly absurd, and if the music didn't hold up the pretense of the story, this would have been a disaster.

That's where the majore success of Crack the Skye lies. It's hard to describe the riffs on the album as anything other than cinematic. The lower-end riffs that stay true to the band's sludge metal roots are as delightfully mucky as ever, always melodious even with the distortion well up. Still, there are plenty of higher pitched guitar lines that balance perfectly with the swampy bottom. Special mention goes to drummer Brann Dailor for being the most obviously virtuoso musician on the album as barely a song goes by without a crazy fill, yet he always seems to find a way to keep the rhythm in check so the drumming performances stay clear of over-indulgence. There are your traditional guitar solos speckled throughout the album, but the songs are pieced together so well that the solos are merely icing on the cake as opposed to the main course. The command of tempo is worth mentioning as (the secret word of the review is "balanced") the band is able to balance out slower, shuffling songs with more breakneck metal songs. The epics can either have excellent, smooth tempo changes or chug the riffs faster to fool the listener.

Prog fans will find more solace in the two longer epics ("The Czar" and "The Last Baron"), but every song is a gem. There's a great contrast of shorter, to-the-point statements you can listen to repeatedly in one sitting mixing in with the larger scale epics to feel like a full listening experience. It's what makes "The Last Baron" far more enjoyable. As a stand-alone song, it's still great, but there's something about listening to it after going through the rest of the album that magnifies the piece. Great albums can make their closing statement that much better when the journey to get to it is equally captivating. It feels so fulfilling to go through the whole album and to hear the swinging tempo at the end.

Without question, this is one of the greatest progressive metal albums to hit the mainstream market. If you want a full 45-minute epic metal gorgefest or need a solid riff or five to headbang to, get Crack the Skye. This is way above the pedestal of sameness that modern metal often gets chided for. If you love progressive metal, this should not be missed. A masterpiece without question.

 Jonah Hex: Revenge Gets Ugly EP by MASTODON album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2010
3.22 | 24 ratings

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Jonah Hex: Revenge Gets Ugly EP
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Jonah Hex: Revenge Gets Ugly EP" is an EP release by US metal act Mastodon and the official score for the Jimmy Hayward directed film "Jonah Hex (2010)". The EP was released digitally through Reprise Records in June 2010. The making of the EP turned out to be a bit more painful than planned, as the bandīs first attempt to write music for the film was shelved, as original soundtrack composer/arranger John Powell had to leave the project, after being handed Mastodonīs material, and new composer/arranger Marco Beltrami wanted something less heavy and a bit more subtle. So Mastodon had to start from scratch, and paired with the fact that they were in the middle of a major world tour, the band felt a bit stressed out by the situation.

As always Mastodon delivers a professional product though. This time fully instrumental and generally more ambient and less heavy than what weīre used to from their side, but still quite intriguing and as the case is with the slow building opener "Death March", quite ominous sounding too. Iīm sometimes reminded of a contemporary and slightly heavier version of the most dark material from the "More (1969)" soundtrack by Pink Floyd. The EP features four tracks, and two alternate versions of the two opening tracks "Death March" and "Clayton Boys" summing up to a total of six tracks and a full playing time of 32:46 minutes.

Although the music doesnīt feature vocals, and itīs a bit more slow building and ambient in style than usual for Mastodon, itīs still unmistakably the sound of the band. "Jonah Hex: Revenge Gets Ugly EP" is also as well produced and well performed as any other release by the band, and while the soundtrack nature of the material makes it a bit less interesting compared to their "regular" releases, the EP is still a quality product by Mastodon deserving a 3.5 star (70%) rating.

 Emperor Of Sand by MASTODON album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.71 | 77 ratings

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Emperor Of Sand
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Emperor Of Sand" is the 7th full-length studio album by US metal act Mastodon. The album was released through Reprise Records in March 2017. Itīs the successor to "Once More 'Round the Sun" from 2014. The band have created a conceptual piece which deals with mortality/fatal illness (the band members have revealed in interviews that the cancer illness of friends and family have served as inspiration), but on a metaphorical level telling the story of a desert wanderer who has been sentenced to death.

Stylistically the material on "Emperor Of Sand" continue the more accessible melodic direction of "Once More 'Round the Sun (2014)". Itīs still unmistakably the sound of Mastodon, featuring their relatively unique riffing style, heavy bass, Brann Dailorīs energetic drumming, and the different vocal styles, ranging from raw to various clean vocal styles. Itīs heavy music, but although the occasional sludgy moment occurs, the music is sometimes closer to heavy rock than it is to metal. Itīs safe to say Mastodon have changed a lot since their early progressive sludge metal days. It should be noted though that the music is still occasionally progressive in structure and style. The closing "Jaguar God" (which is one of the highlights of the album) is an example of that.

The music features a nice organic tone which is further backed by the warm organic sound production. The material is well written and in most cases the tracks are relatively catchy and memorable too. Mastodon still make their audience work though, and although there are a couple of pretty accessible melodic tracks featured on the album (the melody to "Show Yourself" is stuck in my head), there are also some which require more than one listen to sink in.

So upon conclusion "Emperor Of Sand" is another quality release by Mastodon, and the only real issue I can come up with, is that there is little on this album, the band havenīt already tried and done on the predecessors. So itīs not exactly a groundbreaking release as far as their discography goes. Less will do though, and "Emperor Of Sand" is still a damn solid release deserving a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating.

 Emperor Of Sand by MASTODON album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.71 | 77 ratings

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Emperor Of Sand
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

3 stars As the 21st century unapologetically churns out one decade after the next, the heavy metal universe seems like its in no hurry to disappear with bands becoming more popular worldwide and seeing no end in sight. Come 2017 and the Georgia, USA based band MASTODON releases its seventh studio album which hit number 7 on the US Billboard charts after a three year gap from their "fruit monster" album "Once More Around The Sun." EMPEROR OF THE SAND pretty much picks up musically where that album left off and finds the band collaborating with producer Brendon O'Brien who finessed the audio pleasures in 2009's "Crack The Skye." Once again the Neurosis connection firmly connects MASTODON to the world of sludge metal with Scott Kelly once again contributing guest vocals on "Scorpion Breath" and "Andromeda." EMPEROR OF SAND is actually a concept album about the death sentence of a nomadic desert wanderer which was inspired by loved ones who were recently diagnosed with cancer. This album, lyrically speaking, is about soul searching and the horrible realizations of mortality which makes this extremely personal in nature.

While firmly based in a progressive sludge metal sound that emerged from the beginning, MASTODON began to de-emphasize the progressive aspects of their music beginning on "The Hunter" and pretty much continues the trend on EMPEROR OF SAND. For anyone familiar with "The Hunter" and the next album "Once More 'Round The Sun," then this one will come as no shock since this is virtually a retread of those albums complete with the lead vocals and crazy percussion talents of Brann Dailor, the rhythmic guitar sludge of Bill Keiliher, the lead guitar counterpoints of Brent Hinds and the downtuned bass guitar brilliance of Troy Sanders. The band sound as sharp as ever with all the heaviness you would expect in their unique brand of the heavy metal universe and as always they deliver their catchy off-kilter yet totally accessible stamp on the world of sludge metal with an energetic delivery and percussive scaffolding unlike any other band in the metal world.

EMPEROR OF SAND is yet another very well crafted MASTODON album with all the expected riffs, vocals and percussive accompaniments. While that may sound like a sort of comfort food for some, it is also a source of mediocrity to others. MASTODON effectively carves out a very accessible radio-friendly album with the eleven songs crafted on EMPEROR OF SAND that despite having a conceptual lyrically wrapping around the package unfortunately fail to distinguish themselves adequately in the music department. Unlike previous MASTODON albums, this one literally sound the same from beginning to end despite nothing being terribly inadequate in any particular way. The problem for me with MASTODON is that they simply lack that special magic that graced the first four albums that when listened to in comparison to this, simply blow the last three albums away. MASTODON has obviously settled on cruising along on auto-pilot at this stage of their career for whatever reasons ($ perhaps?)

If their last two albums appealed to you, then you will find this as attractive as those however if you long for the days when MASTODON was an utterly unique and distinguished band that defied the trends of the day, then i'm sorry to say that this doesn't hold a candle to albums such as "Leviathon" or "Crack The Skye." EMPEROR OF SAND is very formulaic and MASTODON-by-the- numbers despite being a well performed sludge metal album with progressive accouterments. While there is nothing particularly bad about this newest offering, it does seem that it nonchalantly covers territories already tread upon. I, for one, would prefer something a bit more experimental taking them into new territories and that doesn't necessarily mean playing tuba covers of Nancy Sinatra songs. It simply means that they take their music to the next level. That is not the case on EMPEROR OF SAND where they seem to be coasting on cruise control. Still though, a pleasant enough album to freewheel through despite not really dishing out anything remotely unexpected.

3.5 rounded down

 Emperor Of Sand by MASTODON album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.71 | 77 ratings

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Emperor Of Sand
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Prog-jester
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Their best (read "proggiest") since "Crack The Skye"? Rightfully so. Gone are the bangers like "Motherload" and "Curl of the Burl"... wait, they're actually not! While the opener "Sultan's Curse" is 100% 2006-2009 MASTODON, the very next one, a 3-min long "Show Yourself" is the guys at their poppiest, spreading them hooks left and right.

For "Crack The Skye" fans there are mini-epics like "Roots Remain" and "Jaguar God", for die-hard metalheads (hadn't they given up on the band like three albums ago?) there's an obligatory Scott Kelly feature on a bombastic "Scorpion Breath", and so on and so forth. Unfortunately it gets MASTODON-by-numbers on tracks 6 through 9, and those would've worked way better as a single 10-12-min long epic - though I doubt they'd be playing it live then, ha! Anyway, a nice return to form for the quartet with a near-perfect balance of good songs and proggy tricks.

 Emperor Of Sand by MASTODON album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.71 | 77 ratings

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Emperor Of Sand
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by InTheFlesh

4 stars Oh, yes! This is Mastodon's best album since "Crack the Skye" and for me an instant like. It seems like a return to melody without abandoning their heavy side. It's melodic (well, by Mastodon standards) and it rocks as hard as hell. In fact, this is what I expected to hear right after the magnificent CtS. After two solid efforts, they came back with this new gem. With these guys I especially find it interesting how three of the four band members provide the vocals. None of them is a true lead singer, but they make it work and the transitions between the voices are spot on. The musical formula works just as well; when you are not treated with beautiful melody, you get blasted with amazing riffs and rhythm. Song starts with killer riffs only to explode again into beautiful melodic passages. Rinse and repeat.

"Sultan's Curse": Instant like! Almost makes me feel like I'm listening to Crack the Skye volume 2.

"Show Yourself": Another beautiful melody somehow reminiscent of Queens of the Stone Age.

"Precious Stones": Killer riffs, song flows beautifully!

"Steambreather": Cool rhythm followed by Brann Dailor's pleasant and higher pitched voice and shortly explodes into a majestic chorus.

"Roots Remain": Starts heavy as hell with Troy Sanders providing the intro vocals somewhere between growling and singing. Dailor again sings during the chorus. Good, complex song with a B section that's more on the mellow side continued with a beautiful solo and ending with what sounds like a piano section.

"World of the Wise": Slightly weaker track. Still rocks nicely and the guitar work is beautiful.

"Ancient Kingdom": Another grower. If this would have been on the previous album, it would have been one of my favorites. On this one it's just a good track.

"Clandestiny": Brent Hinds, whom we don't hear as much on this album, provides the chorus here. The song is heavy but in the middle it changes rhythm and moves into a progy section with synths only to return to heaviness one minute later. This middle section works amazingly well and it's my favorite part of the track.

"Andromeda": Don't really know how to comment on this one. I like it. It's complex and it moves through many short sections.

"Scorpion Breath": Interesting rhythm section with beautiful guitar work as usual. This one runs you over like a steamroller.

"Jaguar God": The most complex song on the album. It starts as a ballad with acoustic guitar, drums, bass and Hinds on vocals, but don't let that fool you. Two minutes in, the beast starts stirring. Rhythm is picked up and Dailor provides the vocals for this section. As the song gets heavier, Sanders helps with the vocals. Amazing riffs and rhythm at almost five minutes in. A beautiful guitar solo helps the song mellow back down.

I still think "Crack the Skye" is the better album, but this is as close at they got to that masterpiece. Very solid and well deserved 4 stars!

 Leviathan by MASTODON album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.88 | 325 ratings

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Leviathan
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Pastmaster

5 stars "Into sight 60,000 years of light, fascination with a mountain put to sea. Built to slay and conquer, all with teeth of beasts."

...and built to slay and conquer they were back in the sludge metal era of their career. Now one of the most successful metal bands of the past decade and current one, Mastodon brought back sludge metal in full force at the beginning of the 2000's. While the band has since mellowed out a bit, Mastodon once combined the intensity and pummeling force of Crowbar with the atmospheric brutality of Neurosis. Add in a bit of alternative metal in the vein of Alice in Chains or System of a Down for taste, and you've got yourself Mastodon's classic sound.

Mastodon were a pretty unique band, so these aforementioned influences are mainly just references. The majority of the album is pure raw sludgy brutality, as best exemplified in classics like "Blood and Thunder", "I am Ahab", "Naked Burn", and my personal favorite, "Iron Tusk". The experimental/alternative metal elements come along in the form of plenty of odd time signatures and rapid chromatic riffing that is played in a style akin to SoaD or other bands of similar ilk. This combination of two often separated styles is part of what gave Mastodon such a unique sound when they came out, giving a brutal yet fresh sound during a time when the metal world was still at the end of the reign of generic nu-metal bands (although those would soon be replaced by generic metalcore bands).

The only times the album lets up with the chaotic sludge attack is with the final two tracks, the nearly 14-minute long behemoth "Hearts Alive" and the classical/acoustic guitar ending "Joseph Merrick". These two tracks showcase a more experimental sound in the vein of Neurosis, albeit being more melodious. Speaking of, Neurosis's frontman Scott Kelly makes his first guest appearance on this album as he would on the band's future albums. Other guests include Clutch's Neil Fallon with additional vocals (Blood and Thunder), Matt Bayles on Organ (Joeseph Merrick), and Phil Peterson on Cello (Hearts Alive).

Only their second album, and Mastodon were already in their prime. While the following Blood Mountain is my favorite, both that and Leviathan are up there with the best sludge metal albums and are already considered modern classics. If you want some forceful and sludgy brutality that's a bit more recent than sludge masters like Crowbar and Melvins, the first three Mastodon albums are essential listening.

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives) See review here: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/leviathan/297097

 Crack The Skye by MASTODON album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.08 | 588 ratings

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Crack The Skye
Mastodon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Ghost_of_Prog

4 stars I've always considered Mastodon to be one of the better heavy metal bands of the 21st century. They seem to be focused on creating a heavy, yet melodic atmosphere, as opposed to many others who seek only to be brutal or hardcore. They started off rusty with Remission and refined themselves with Leviathan and Blood Mountain. From a progressive rock standpoint, Crack the Skye is their most refined album. Featuring two epics as well as an entire album drenched in psychedelic and eastern tinged melodies, it's a treat to both fans of the band and any potential newcomers.

In addition to the prog influence, the band has some fantastic drumming on their part thanks to one Mr. Brann Dailor, a jazz influenced drummer who cites Yes, Genesis, and King Crimson as influences. I bring him up because not only is he a great drummer, but he is also a great singer, as his sections of the album's opener Oblivion show. As for the song itself, it is pure Mastodon; extremely heavy, melodic, and catchy. The same can be said of its follow up Divinations. This formula is repeated with Quintessence, which alternates between it's heavy and psychedelic parts rather than merging the two together.

The album's first epic The Czar is reminiscent of the traditional prog epic; a larger than life plot (Rasputin and attempted assassinations on the Czar of Russia), diverse instrumentality, and sum's up the band or album's sound wonderfully. It starts off quiet and slowly builds and builds until it climaxes with heavy guitars before descending (or ascending) into a mystical psychedelic melody. Easily one of Mastodon's best.

Ghost of Karelia reminds me a bit of Iron Maiden's "Wasted Years" and continues the album's mixture of heavy, psychedelic metal. The title track is probably the weakest song on the album, that really fails to try anything new, but on it's own, it's still decent. The Last Baron, the album's second epic and closer, starts off loud and bombastic, and just keeps on soaring. The vocals alternate between respect and awe and intense fear of the song's subject, which balanced with the album's signature style creates a mesmerizing piece that perfectly finishes this album.

A great intro album for progressive fans who want a little bit of taste of both prog's more extreme side and metal fans who want to see metal get a little experimental.

Four stars easily.

Thanks to TheProgtologist for the artist addition.

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