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Mastodon - Crack The Skye CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.11 | 619 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Progressive Sludge? Stoner Prog? Or Just Great Headbanging Fun?

My introduction to Mastodon was a 3 hour ride in the tattoo chair under the hands of a fanboy who claimed he'd inked up a few of the boys in the same booth. He had numerous posters of their not so beautiful mugs for me to consider while he drug needles through my skin and we shot the breeze about music. I'm not exactly sure what impression that left but I subsequently tried to get into them a couple of times. Each individual song I sampled was fine enough, but never totally grabbed me. Then the explosion of praise for the new album erupted this spring so I thought I'd just dive in.

Crack the Skye is hard to categorize - it's not tech, it's not really extreme, it's not really all that prog, but lawdy lawdy is it good. It contains great riffage to crank in the car, music that makes you want to air guitar or go home and learn the tab. For those not into guitar, there's plenty to just yodel along with the now remarkably melodic music. The refrain "I'm lost in oblivion" in the very first song is as great as heavy hooks come, and actually the pre-chorus of that song is as good as some band's best refrains.

The music sounds more like sludge metal than any other specific genre, but there are certainly some prog elements. There's an infamous section in the middle of "The Last Baron" that is prog-improv craziness that sounds more like the beginning of the song "Close to the Edge" than anything traditionally metal. Two extended epics are both excellent. Several band members' multi-timbred vocals are the best of the band's career, spanning barks and growls to tasty harmonies to Ozzy-like whine. The guitars sound great, raw toned but precisely played. The band definitely has its own distinctive sound and just oozes rock-n-roll. Attitude, love of loud, attention to good riffs, mixing of aggression and love of fantasy topics, it's everything that attracted me to metal when I was the teenage male target audience 20 odd years ago. Listening to this album makes me think of the great concerts of my youth.

This is also the work of a clearly mature band. They've spent the time to get the compositions right, make the instruments sound great, nail the vocal takes. While the production is very modern, Crack the Skye doesn't sound micro-corrected to death at all. It maintains a live intensity and fire, a vibrant looseness that the best studio albums capture. Four of the seven tracks are truly great songs, and the remaining three are good. Not quite a masterpiece, but an excellent piece of work, one of the better offerings of the year.

Negoba | 4/5 |


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