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Mastodon - Crack The Skye CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.11 | 619 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
4 stars Maturity or sound softening?

This is my first real experience with Mastodon, although I have listened to some of their previous works. Comparing this one with their previous efforts is not my expertise, but nevertheless my thoughts about this are described below.

To a 'newbie's' ears then, Mastodon's sound seems to have matured over the years. This album seems to be by far the less 'spontaneous' with well-worked compositions. The element I personally thought was missing from their previous works appears here: structure. The tracks are much more set in a 'reasonable' sequence with clear couples and refrains most of the time. The sound is arguably somewhat softer than in the past and the tech-extreme moments are fewer.

The album generally flows in a slow to medium speed tempo with few but interesting breaks. The vocals are cleaner but also more diverse - a very positive aspect of this work, as the listener gets the chance to hear different singing patterns; soft, clean, aggressive, obscure, weird. At times the vocals reminded me of Ozzy Osbourne, in the way that this 'madman' tries to put some craziness to his singing.

As in previous works, the length of the songs is generally short to medium, with the exception of The Czar and The Last Baron, which in my opinion represent the highlights of the album; the former being my favourite. The mixing of tech/heavy metal with progressive elements is an area where MASTODON really succeed in. Apart from the two lengthy tracks where the prog influences are obvious (especially in the last track), the band proves that progressive metal can be even played in very short tracks (Divinations).

I have to admit the intelligent heavy metal riffs (numerous) that can be heard in The Czar are within the best that have recently been produced in the whole genre. The dynamite middle part of this track is possibly the most inspiring piece of music in the entire album, with the opening and closing 'dreamy' parts accompanying it perfectly. Oblivion, Ghost of Karelia (ala Wasted Years riff) and the title track are based on tech-heavy riffs and melodic refrains which make this album quite accessible even to non-fans of tech-extreme.

Quintessence is on the heavier side, reminding more of the band's past compositions, comprising of extremely technical and complex musical passages, but very pleasant to the ear. The closing track is probably the most complex of all - here you can experience numerous changes from straight heavy metal to eclectic prog, from extreme to completely melodic passages etc.

Overall, a more accessible album compared to the band's previous works and possibly a very good starting point for those who want to get to know them. I can't really pick out any defects in this work, everything is at high standards. Recommended to fans of tech-extreme and heavy metal in general. I personally enjoy it very much but for some unknown reason I would not consider it a perfect masterpiece.

aapatsos | 4/5 |


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