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Mastodon - Crack The Skye CD (album) cover

CRACK THE SKYE

Mastodon

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.11 | 619 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Crack The Skye' - Mastodon (8/10)

Before listening to 'Crack The Skye,' I could safely say that Mastodon was certainly not 'my cup of tea.' While I am certainly aware of progressive tendencies in 'Blood Mountain,' there was never anything about the band that really made me want to call myself a Mastodon fan. While I am still not wholly convinced that the band is right for me, I can safely say that 'Crack The Skye' is a brilliant album, and despite being critically hailed as a bit more than it cuts out to be, a nice dose of a brand of progressive metal much unlike the more European- styled sounds of Dream Theater or Symphony X.

With 'Crack The Skye,' Mastodon craft a very dense soundscape, which at times is very easily likened to psychedelia. There is also a fair metallic dosage here, although it's not near as brutal or heavy as alot of music lodged into the 'extreme prog metal' realm. If Mastodon has anything going for them, it's that they sound very original in contrast to their other prog-metal contemporaries. It could be well-said that a substantial portion of modern progressive metal bands default to sounding like carbon copies of Dream Theater or Symphony X at the earliest behest. Mastodon -on the other hand- looks back to the band's geographical roots (the band hails from Georgia, in the heart of the American southland) and instead of typical prog-rock influence, uses Southern rock as the main external voice to the sound of the band... While I have never been able to appreciate Southern rock too much in the grand scheme of things, it's very fresh to see this melded with progressive metal.

The instrumentation in the album is fantastic. There is some great riffage here; the riff at the chorus of 'Divinations' in particular works very well in the sense that it is both progressive and complimentary to the song's spirit. The album's (or the band's, I should say) main fault seems to lie with the vocals themselves. Brett Dailor -while I have nothing truly against the man or his work- does not have a voice or style that I have all too pleasing to listen to. His belting is far too nasal (in the likes of Ozzy Osbourne) and lacking in range or feeling to get any rise out of me... It is a shame that's the problem with the album, because I'm sure that with a different singer with a more emotional vocal style, the album would have felt alot more emotionally fluid and organic. With extra added listens though, the veil falls down and the emotional quality initially hidden by Dailor's gravelly voice is seen in full view.

Despite it's few (yet pronounced) flaws however, 'Crack The Skye' is a great piece to get lost in for a little while, and is an album to look out for in 2009. As a closing note, I will say that it took me literally months of listening until the album finally hit me full force, and I realized it was such a fantastic work.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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