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Mastodon Crack the Skye album cover
4.14 | 719 ratings | 64 reviews | 50% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2009

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Oblivion (5:52)
2. Divinations (3:32)
3. Quintessence (6:35)
4. The Czar (9:46) :
- i. Usurper
- ii. Escape
- iii. Martyr
- iv. Spiral
5. Ghost of Karelia (5:24)
6. Crack the Skye (5:54)
7. The Last Baron (13:03)

Total Time 50:06

Line-up / Musicians

- Brent Hinds / lead guitar, banjo, vocals
- Bill Kelliher / rhythm guitar
- Troy Sanders / bass, synth bass, vocals
- Brann Dailor / drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Rich Morris / Mellotron, synth
- Scott Kelly / vocals (6)

Releases information

Artwork: Paul Romano

CD Reprise Records 459132-2 (2009)
2LP+CD Reprise Records 517931-1 (US) (2009)
CD Reprise Records WPCR-13301 (Japan) (2009)
2CD Reprise Records 521635-2 (US) (2009)
CD+DVD Reprise Records 517929-2 (US) (2009)
CD+DVD Reprise Records 9362-49791-1 (Europe) (2009)
CD+DVD+Box Reprise Records 517928-2 (US) (2009)
LP Reprise Records 459132-1 (US) (2009)
LP Reprise Records 9362-49790-9 (Europe) (2009)

Thanks to TheProgtologist for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy MASTODON Crack the Skye Music

MASTODON Crack the Skye ratings distribution

(719 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(50%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(33%)
Good, but non-essential (11%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

MASTODON Crack the Skye reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars Now I am not by any means a metal fan, but I do enjoy a good prog-metal album here or there. But this one does not have enough prog to meet my tastes.

While Ghost of Karelia and The Last Baron are truly prog, the rest of the album, while infused with some very good guitar playing, slogs through in simple 4/4 time, with somewhat mundane composition.

And what's with this tendency for metal bands to use vocals that sound like someine throwing up into their mouth? It appears to me to be an easy way to not have to compose a melody. Thankfully, Mastodon has kept this singing confined to just a few annoying moments. I'll be relieved when prog-metal bands grow out of this style.

Review by poslednijat_colobar
3 stars An epic album by American tech metal band Mastodon. Very interesting concept of making music. Being the first album by Mastodon, I have listened to, I felt some Amorphis-like moments here. Amorphis is one of my favourite metal (not rock) bands, but regretfully here I feel some of the spirit of their less good albums. Some of the solos and the vocals are very similar to Amorphis. Crack the Skye is full of dynamic tunes, but not very catchy for non-metal prog fans. Moreover, at the middle of the album I've already felt a kind of boredom, which's not very good for me.

I don't want to say the album is bad. It's good, especially if you listen to it song by song, all of the songs are sooner positive than negative, but as an album it's sooner negative than positive. Good everyday album for metal fans, but it lacks of something really special and astonishing. My rating goes for something between 3 and 3.5 stars, more likely about 3.1 - 3.2 stars!

Review by Negoba
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.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars Bill Kelliher describes the concept of this album as: "It's basically the story of a quadriplegic boy who's in a wheelchair, who leaves his body, enters the spirit realm and flies too close to the sun. He's tied to his body by this golden umbilical cord that burns off, so he's just kind of floating aimlessly through space. He flies through a worm-hole and astral-travels back to Czarist Russia, where there's this cult performing a divination-they're like a secret sect out in the woods performing a seanace kind of thing-and they call his spirit into the body of Rasputin, who's part of this cult, right before he's murdered in order to warn him. And Rasputin sacrifices his life for this child's spirit through a crack in the sky, back through time and space, and brings the boy back into his body and he's completely healed". Drummer Brann Dailor came up with most of the ideas and lyrics. His sister Skye committed suicide at age 14 and that is why the "Skye" in the title of the album is spelled that way, a tribute to her.

"Oblivion" opens like a METALLICA song unfortunately. The vocals remind me of a cross between Ozzy and Layne Staley. I just can't get into this track. "Divinations" is much better. It actually opens with banjo. Banjo ?! Yes banjo. A nice heavy sound follows and the drumming is fantstic ! The vocals are better too. A good uptempo song. "Quintessence" is good to start out but they reminds me of a 90's Alternative band on the chorus. I can't get past this plus it's too commercial sounding. "The Czar" is an amazing track. It opens with bass-synths and stays fairly restrained until before 4 minutes when it kicks in. Nice. Great sound ! Impressive guitar throughout this one.

"Ghost Of Karelia" is another highlight. A good heavy track with some cool sounding guitar playing over top at times."Crack The Skye" features guest vocalist Scott Kelly (NEUROSIS) spitting out the lyrics after a minute. He trades vocals with Brent throughout. Another killer tune. "The Last Baron" is the over 13 minute closer. It opens with acoustic guitar as vocals and a heavy sound take over quickly. This sounds really good. A change in style after 3 minutes. An outstanding rhythm follows. Themes are repeated before 7 1/2 minutes. Blistering guitar 11 1/2 minutes in that lasts for a minute.

"Oblivion" and "Quintessence" are two songs (1/4 of the album) that I just don't like at all. The other songs are really excellent. I just can't give 4 stars to an album when I dislike that much of it no matter how outstanding the rest is.

Review by JJLehto
3 stars This album was a pretty big disappointment for me. I have been a fan of Mastodon from the start so this especially pains me. I do have to say that they are all good musicians. The guitarist put down some great riffs, solos, etc and Brann Dailor is one of my favorite drummers with his extremely fill heavy drumming. However, this album does not do it for me.

First, the vocals. I was never a huge fan of Mastodon's vocals on their first 2 albums, but I am not fond of these at all. To be honest I am not sure who is singing when on each song since 3 people are contributing vocals, (including the drummer!?). I some of the harsher vocals, it fits the music well. However, most of the clean singing, (well just most of the singing) I can not stand. It really distracts me from much of the music.

Second, the music is flat out boring. Most of the solos on the album are pretty good, and I do like some of the riffs but I just can not seem to sit through a full song. I like certain parts of certain songs, but not a single one all the way through. Besides the vocals, which I already mentioned, I can not put my finger on what exactly is wrong with the music. Perhaps the band progressed too much? Even when a band, (such as Death) moves into uncharted territory for themselves, they must retain what they are. "Crack the Skye" is not Mastodon. What disappoints me most is the drumming. It is good, and you can hear traces of Brann, but this is not the drumming I have grown to love, and expect from Mastodon.

I fully admit I am a metal head at heart, and while I have grown to love most of Prog-Metal, the metal still has to be there. Maybe this album is simply too progressive for me, perhaps they have reached a sound beyond my grasp. Whatever the reason I can not listen to "Crack the Skye". This really upsets me because some of the music is really great, and the lyrics and overall concept are brilliant.

I would say this is for fans only, but I am long time Mastodon fan and I can not do this album. Therefore, by this sites guidelines I am compelled to give "Crack the Skye" a rating of 1 star.

Review by 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.

Review by Conor Fynes
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.

Review by ProgBagel
3 stars Mastodon ? 'Crack the Skye' 3.5 stars

Keeping things sane this time around?a good thing?

What I like most about the album is a definitive role between the guitars, unlike the usual twin guitar attack, Mastodon has a lot of rhythm and lead sections going together. The compositions are much smoother than the previous works, and naturally the songs got a bit longer. What I didn't like about the album was the vocals that reached back to some 80's hard rock acts that in my opinion came alive and died in the decade?not to be repeated. There most upsetting party by far is the melodies that were so memorable on any of the previous albums lacked here. The first two tracks had some things going, but the album just slowed down gradually after that.

This was still a very good album though. Buy with caution.

Review by aapatsos
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 'Crack the Skye' was my introduction to Mastodon and it captured my attention immediately.

The blend of extreme metal and experimental jazz fusion psychedelia is well executed throughout. Each song is part of a thematic master work about Eastern philosophies and Religiosity. The very off kilter time changes are wonderful on each track. It contains a multi- movement suite with songs within a song on the mini epic 'The Czar' which is worth the price of admission on its own.

Other highlights are the catchy metallic 'Oblivion' and 'Divinations'. If you can get hold of the video clip of this latter track it is worthwhile as it depicts an astronaut, very '2001'ish, trying to rescue another astronaut who is drifting in space - the effects are great and it opens up a new dimension to the meaning of the obscure lyrics.

'Ghost of Karelia' is another good track with some beautiful lead guitar work and 'Crack the Skye' is excellent. The last track 'The Last Baron' is the epic that features a rather strangled blend of jazz time signatures and crunching chunky metal riffs clocking in at 13 minutes.

The vocals by Dailor on each track range from clean to agressive growelling. The vocals compliment the sound of the tracks and there are some incredible lead guitar breaks from Hinds and Kelliher. The bass work of Sanders is excellent and there are many strong harmonies and choruses to stick in the memory banks well after the CD ends.

The riffs are intricate and complex and never dull, as you are not quite sure in which direction the tracks are heading. This is a great album and worth checking out if you have never encountered this ensemble of technical metal proggers.

I recommend this to any one who likes their prog loud and technical as this album has much to offer even the most discerning prog addict.

Review by Prog-jester
5 stars Ten years ago an ambitous quartet had changed the world of Metal. It will never be the same with MASTODON, who were growing better from one album to another, topping with incredible "Blood Mountain" three years ago. While critics were choking in attempts of pigeonholing them (sludge/metalcore/progressive/hardcore/thrash/groove-metal??? o rly?), MASTODONts have acquired the fame of one of the most important bands in current musicworld. I have always appreciated their attitude. I admired their math-based crucnhy riffs. I saw their influence in almost every new band I loved. But I never liked their music, not a single song. What did I need? Obviously, "Crack the Skye"!!!

I borrowed it from a friend just for the record and didn't like after the first spin. But "the rule of a second chance" has saved album's grace for me, and unfolded it in it's whole beauty. While staying heavy and groovy, MASTODON added more clean vocals, keyboards and even bluesy solos (like that one in "The Czar")!!! The new album is a definitive Bible of 21th century Prog- Metal, if you won't mind, a new SFAM - fresh and catchy, melodic and heavy, art-rocky and in the same time metal as it must be! "The Last Baron" is a future classic for it's midpart alone, I'm telling you. If you never liked/heard MASTODON, start here - there could be no better example for now! Extremely recommended!!!

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars For me, at least up until Crack The Skye Mastodon have been a metal band with some good ideas, moments of brilliance even and improving over each subsequent release. Crack The Skye immediately benefits from having the best vocals I've heard from the band so far. It's also their most progressive album to date and full of cracking songs. They're more melodic than before without sacrificing any of the power and intensity of their performance. There's no getting away from the fact that Crack The Skye is an extremely heavy album, very busy and just when you think it couldn't get any heavier they find a way of raising the power quotient a few notches. The band plays brilliantly throughout with some of the best metal riffs I've heard in years and as usual drummer Brann Dailor is all over his kit with his trademark high speed rolls. Although almost consistently heavy throughout they also bring things down a bit at times and understand the benefits of dynamics as they do on the 4 part The Czar, one of the best tracks on an album full of highlights. Special mention should go to final track and 13 minute long The Last Baron, a restrained beginning masques a rollercoaster ride of a song which at times gets so frantic you expect it to fall apart at any moment. Simply stunning!

Mastodon's Crack The Skye should go down in history as a milestone metal album, the way that Metallica's Master Of Puppets, Slayer's Reign In Blood or Opeth's Blackwater Park are so highly regarded setting a new benchmark and finding new life in a genre that is often tired and repetitive these days. The only 2009 album that I've awarded 5 stars to and the best prog metal album since Opeth's Watershed. An essential release for prog metal and metal lovers alike.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Finally! (In my 130 reviews history, my only use of exclamation mark) And I though that this genre is forever closed for me. Well, not exactly closed, but most of bands see perfection in death metal style. I don't. And I also can't (appreciate it fully, because I can't stand it, so I can just rate other parts of it). But there, perfection meets good balance between skilled musicianship, melody and hard part, far side of metal.

Guitar work, perfect. Long solos, pleasant and heavy at one time, electric with acoustic like (if it's really acoustic, then it's amplified version) playing together. Vocals, reminding Ozzy Osbourne sometimes. Melody, I wonder how they made it, but it's here. Something that keeps you interested from beginning to the end. Oh, when talking about length, I quite like all tracks, except Last Baron, where I lack elements, that pleased me in previous tracks and see just normal hard metal (yes, again, I used this word "hard" and you probably wonder what it is. Well, you won't find it in encyclopedias, nor in other reviews/guidelines. It's something what death metal is. Hard, unpleasant, I'm still looking for the right word). OK, even Baron has its good times, but I find it worse than perfect rest of album, especially Czar. But Crack the Skye literally "cracks" this myth (or busts, after this famous TV series).

5(-), even this kind of music can break a heart of (more symphonic like music) listener like me. Thank you. By the way, kind of favourite album as I see.

Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Having previously heard only Blood Mountain, the MASTODON experience for me was not a fully gratifying one. While I liked the innovation and the energy that the band was capable of, I wasn't too thrilled about the senseless vocals or the lack of melody. Luckily for me, things have changed this time around.

Crack The Skye is a whole different beast, much more focused, much more controlled than its predecessor. The band has toned down on the violence a little bit, to leave more room for subtlety, melody and actual songwriting. Yes, the band is still violent, energetic, aggressive, metallic. But now it's much easier to read more than all of that between the lines of the heavy, syncopated riffing.

MASTODON has decided to adopt a much more melodic style. The first and most obvious change is in the vocals. It seems the members of the band finally decided to try to sing and add melodic hooks to their songs. Now we can hear choruses, melodies that stay with us much more immediately than the insane riffs could do in the past. The unique riffing is still here but in a more balanced approach.

The band has also changed its musical style a little. At times the songs sound much more like melodic swedish death metal a la SOILWORK than they ever did in the past, and there are a few moments when we're even reminded of grunge music by the nature of the riffs. Much more groove and style and less attack and destroy, the band seems to be trying to reach out, and maybe it's succeeding on that.

The album is not perfect, some songs are quite subpar when compared withe the best moments in the album, but in general the experience is quite satisfactory, and I can't do anything else but recommend MASTODON's latest to anybody who wants to try some original, modern American progressive metal.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Musically, this album is a delight, mainly because instead of it being a constant onslaught, it charms through both intelligent arrangements and stunning melodies. Rather than using swamped, overdriven guitars all the time, the band utilizes multiple guitars with less gain to provide the power- something other metal bands might do well to emulate. I may be crazy, but the vocals often remind me of either Ozzy Osbourne or Layne Staley, somewhat whiny and slightly growling. The drumming is outstanding- there is no other word for it. Admittedly, the conceptual story is "out there," having similar qualities to that of Genesis's The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, but lacking the visceral appeal. Overall, this takes no time at all to appreciate, and yet it appreciates with each listen. This is also a wonderful album for those who, like me, enjoy metal in relatively small doses.

"Oblivion" After a fantastic and devilish introductory riff, the album is off to a very strong start. While the vocals are certainly good, it's the various guitars that hold my interest. The lead does a spectacular job alternating between soaring notes and speedier licks. In any event, it is safe to say that this is one of my favorite songs in the subgenre.

"Divinations" After what sounds like a little banjo riff, the band rocks out around that theme. The grating vocals are really not my thing at all, but otherwise, this is a powerful short track that should please most folks looking for something on the heavier side. The drumming is the highlight for me.

"Quintessence" Again, it's the guitars that win applause. The arrangement is creative, and I really enjoy the segment in 7/4 time. Overall, this is a brilliant and complex composition, even if it sounds static in terms of mood.

"The Czar" The opening instrumentation immediately caught my attention. The music blends some mild exotic flavors with the band's customary all out heavy metal. The guitars are very flavorful, and there's plenty of variety to keep me entertained and intrigued. And though it's but a small constituent, I absolutely love the way the song ends.

"Ghost of Karelia" Once again, the band grabs my attention with another fascinating introduction. The guitar and bass pairing under the vocals is exceptional, so much so that it paradoxically compliments and distracts from the singing at the same time.

"Crack the Skye" I don't particularly care for the growling, though the sung melody is spot on. The guitar driven music is at once brawny and full of subtleties.

"The Last Baron" A terse acoustic bit gives way to a battering of drums and that slightly whiny lead vocalist. This is one of those rare pieces that, while not really memorable (usually a bad sign for me) jumps out each time I hear it, making me say, "Hell yeah- I love this!" Without a doubt, the refrain anchors this spiraling piece and serves as a definite highlight of the entire album.

Review by J-Man
4 stars An excellent (and original) prog metal album!

This was my introduction to American progressive metal band Mastodon. The first time I heard this, I was immediately captivated by the vocal melodies, the use of multiple guitars, and the overall magic feel of this album. 2009 has been a year filled with great albums, and this is surely one of the reasons why. The songwriting skills of the band are magnificent, and the use of layered guitars that rarely have any distortion at all really adds a nice touch.

"Crack the Skye" is without any weak tracks, but the main highlight is the closing epic "The Last Baron". Of course, this album isn't quite worthy of the title "masterpiece", but it does come close.

The type of music that is played here is a blend of your traditional Dream Theater prog metal, groove metal, and a lot of modern rock/metal elements. The vocal style is mostly clean vocals with some nice tradeoffs between the multiple vocalists. There are a few moments with "harsh" vocals, but they aren't death metal growls or anything like that. I'll explain each song in a little bit more detail next.


"Oblivion"- It opens up with a nice riff with just a guitar, but then the entire band comes in. The short, but excellent opening is incredible. The three amazing vocalists have excellent tradeoffs, and that is part of the reason why I love this band. It has their trademark use of many guitars, and the solo near the middle is superb. This is an excellent start to the album.

"Divinations"- It starts off with the nice guitars again, but then continues the riff in another great opening from Mastodon. It continues a riff with some tradeoffs between two vocalists. This part is excellent, and the chorus is cool as well. It has some nice use of harsher vocals that add a really nice layer to the music. Another great song!

"Quintessence"- The guitar harmonies are what makes this a great song, and the songwriting is very good. It features some nice transitions and some good instrumental passages between sections. This isn't the best from the album, but it still isn't weak or anything like that.

"The Czar"- Some organ chords open up the song, and are then followed by a nice guitar melody. The whole band soon comes in, with a rhythmic bass line that impresses me every time. The vocals during the beginning are in a lower style, and a fair amount of the song has a groove metal sound. The song does progress from the opening section into a really cool part with some melodic metal riffs. This goes back into the earlier section, resulting in a very epic feel. This song is probably the second best on "Crack The Skye", only surpassed by the closer.

"Ghost of Karelia"- This starts out with a nice riff with guitar and keys. The intro is excellent, and maybe one of the best from the album. The rest of the song has nice use of the opening riff, and some excellent progressions.

"Crack the Skye"- One of the reasons why I love this album is because almost every song has a fascinating introduction. This song has some of the harshest vocals on the album, and this song actually reminds me a lot of Cynic. It has the alternating use of growled vocals and electronically distorted clean vocals. This song is very good, but is not the best on the album.

"The Last Baron"- This is what makes Crack the Skye an awesome album! It has excellent riffs, the perfect blend of emotions, great vocals, and just pure perfection. I really don't even know how to describe this song. It defines the word "masterpiece", and is one of my favorite prog metal epics I've ever heard. Without this excellent song, Crack the Skye would barely be above average. An awesome end to an album!

This album is incredible, and deserves its spot in every prog metal fan's collection. So why don't I give this album a 5 star rating? Simply because I know Mastodon can achieve even greater heights. They've been improving so much after every album, I'm positive that within their next few releases they will make an album that completely blows my mind. As I write this, this is Mastodon's best album, but I'm sure a 5 star masterpiece is coming in the near future.

As for now, this is a highly recommended album!

4 stars.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Crack the Skye is the fourth full-length studio album by American experimental/ progressive metal act Mastodon. The last couple of albums by the band have elevated Mastodon to stardom in the metal world and deservedly so IMO. A new release by such a prolific act always comes with a lot of hype and itīs always interesting to see if the artist can live up to that hype.

Crack the Skye sounds unmistakably like Mastodon but the band keep developing their trademark sound, exploring new territories. The music is more melodic and IMO more memorable than earlier releases by the band. The multitude of influences from traditional heavy metal, thrash metal, sludge metal, progressive rock/ metal, psychadelic rock and hard rock as usual give Mastodon a unique sound. Theyīve toned down the technical playing a bit on Crack the Skye and I especially noticed that Brann Dailorīs otherwise highly adventurous drumming is now more restrained. There are seven tracks on the album. Two of them are pretty long. The Czar is an almost 10 minute long affair while the closing track The Last Baron is 13 minutes long. I regard the latter as one of the most progressive songs written by the band so far. All songs on the album are high quality compositions and several are favorites of mine in the groupīs discography. The above mentioned The Last Baron is an excellent song, the opening track Oblivion is also quite the experience ( note the melodic and powerful guitar solo) and the same can be said about Crack the Skye, Divinations and Quientessence. The Czar and Ghost of Karelia havenīt really blown me away yet, but that might come with further listens. They are definitely not bad songs. The vocals on the album are the most melodic Mastodon have done so far. The raw vocal style is still present on the album but the clean vocals are more and more prominent. I enjoy this development.

The production is professional and well sounding.

Crack the Skye is the Mastodon album so far, that has most progressive rock leanings and older fans might miss the more aggressive side of the band on this album. For those of us who enjoy the bandīs more experimental and melodic side Crack the Skye is probably the best album theyīve made so far. Iīm still not a hardcore fan but itīs hard not to bow in the dust for a release like this. A 4 star rating is well deserved and I fully understand those that feel Crack the Skye is a masterpiece.

Review by horsewithteeth11
4 stars In a concerted effort to not get to the end of 2009 and realize I have 2538973 new albums that I haven't written reviews on, and then beating my head against a wall or with some blunt object, I have decided to force myself to start cranking out more reviews for albums of this year. And one of the good ones to do is one of the first albums I was looking forward to: Mastodon's Crack the Skye.

Before this album was released, I thought that Mastodon was a relatively good modern progressive metal band, but not one I felt was really that high-caliber. I enjoyed Leviathan some, and Blood Mountain was okay (I thought their debut was horrid though), but I couldn't really understand their high praise in both progressive and metal circles. However, with an album such as Crack the Skye, I believe Mastodon has decided what course their music is going to chart. And it's quite honestly one that I'm looking forward to. The biggest difference with this album in comparison to their first three is the amount of clean singing and overall melodicism that is a much more prominent aspect of their music. Brann Dailor has also decided to restrain himself for this release. While he is a drumming madman on all other Mastodon material before this, albeit in a good way, on here he sounds in control. It is almost as if he is examining a new way to drum on this album. Or maybe it just fits the music better. Regardless, this is an album that continues to defy categorization for me. It's kind of progressive, kind of metal ala Ozzy Osbourne crossed with Neurosis, and kind of hard rock. For those who don't really care for extreme metal, this is one of the few albums in the genre I could highly recommend to most.

While 2009 has managed to produce lots of good music in my opinion, this one is close to the top of the game. It might be there already, but only time will tell. 4 stars for now, but with time this might improve to 5.

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Crack the Skye is a really nice introduction to the musical universe of US act Mastodont. on this occasion exploring a musical blend that is somewhat uncommon.

While the guitar mainly has a downtuned sound akin to Black Sabbath, the compositions themselves also contain stylistic elements that will sound familiar to fans of bands like Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden and Metallica. Without ever sounding derivative of any of the bands mentioned.

From a select few light, atmospheric passages to just as few heavy and brutal black metal tinged sequences, to all the variations of style in between these two extremes, this is a quirky album. Shifts in pace and sound are frequent, the development often unpredictable, and while there are enough intense metal moments to satify most ardent metalheads there are also passages more difficult to take in - subtle disharmonies and dissonances as well as multiple-layered constructions with details enough to cater for fans of truluy sophisticated music as well.

The end result is a modern sounding vintage album, or perhaps a vintage-sounding modern one. Hard to describe, defying stylistic boundaries by the truckloads yet clearly a metal album from start to finish. And a treat it is too, for those looking for sophisticated, innovative progressive metal. And of course a highly recommended one at that.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I shall conclude 2009 by briefly mentioning my favorite album experience that the year had to offer.

This is actually this band's fourth studio album it also happened to be the first Mastodon release that I have purchased. Although I have previously seen the band perform at Metaltown Festival 2007 in Gothenburg I wasn't all that interested in their style or the direction that the music was going for. Well, that all definitely had changed after listening to this release!

After reading a great deal of praise and positive reviews given to this album I decided to give it a go. Although the concept aspect of Crack The Skye feels too far fetched for any album's standards the music manages to balance out those flaws quite well. The two longer tracks, titled The Czar and The Last Baron, are the definite highlights although I personally prefer the latter slightly more due to the bombastic conclusion it offers to the whole experience.

This release was definitely a great surprise for me and I will probably check out the rest of Mastodon's discography in due time. Until then, I would definitely like to recommend Crack the Skye as an introduction album to this band and their sound. The music here might be considered a bit too metal for a progressive rock album but I still think that Crack The Skye deserves the to be included into a solid prog rock music collection!

***** star songs: Divinations (3:32) The Last Baron (13:03)

**** star songs: Oblivion (5:52) Quintessence (6:35) The Czar (9:46) Ghost Of Karelia (5:24) Crack The Skye (5:54)

Review by EatThatPhonebook
4 stars 8/10

"Crack The Skye" is an album to remember, for being not only Mastodon's best album yet, but also a great example of how prog metal can have a more alternative sound.

Mastodon have been increasing in popularity over the years,becoming world wide famous in 2006 with "Blood Mountain" and being universally appreciated with their 2009 release, "Crack The Skye". This last album is most definitely their best one to date, beating their mind blowing 2004 release "Leviathan".

Although Mastodon has always been a good, respectable band, with "Crack The Skye" they reach a whole new level, and they are now considered one of the great Progressive Metal bands out there, and this one the best Prog Metal album of the year. While the older releases had a harder, more extreme, and very sludgy sound,"Crack The Skye" is a lot more progressive influenced, which is noticeable even in the length of the songs, almost all above the average Mastodon track. The style hasn't changed much, but there is a huge difference; the Sludge Metal sound is gone. The hooks, the riffs, the melodies, all of these elements are mostly typical Mastodon style, but the sound is completely different, maybe a little softer, but definitely still pure, strong metal.

This was my first Mastodon encounter, even though I knew them a little before getting this album, so I wasn't mind blown immediately. In fact, it took me a few listens to appreciate fully all of these songs, all of them pretty ambitious, although not exactly full of experimental moments, to the point where one might think this is your average wanna be mainstream Heavy Metal album, when it intended to be the contrary. "Crack The Skye" is the final chapter of the four part project, which is formed by Mastodon's four albums released thus far.each album concentrates on one of the four elements: if "Remission" was fire, "Leviathan" water, "Blood Mountain" earth, than "Crack The Skye" is air. The concept of the album in fact is quite spacey, but I won't tell you no more.

The album has seven songs, the shorter ones, like "Oblivion", "Quintessence", the title track and "Divinations"and are more in you face, aggressive,with the typical Mastodon-like fast rhythms, even though some progressive hints are present. But the longer ones, like the mini suite "The Czar", which has an amazing build up, or the closing chapter "The Last Baron" are full of experimentation, that make the band a lot more interesting than what they apparently are.

"Crack The Skye" is an album to remember, for being not only Mastodon's best album yet, but also a great example of how prog metal can have a more alternative sound. I would recommend this to anyone who likes metal and prog, for sure.

Review by jampa17
4 stars Prog Metal with growlings. That's it and there's nothing wrong about it.

I know many progfans do not enjoy this particular sub genre and especially the growls, but this album is really a jewel of music made in a musical way. Heavy fast riffing with some moody atmosphere set the scene for this album. Even the growls are used only in a controlled way and have a good melodic leads overall.

If you are into prog metal or Opeth you would really appreciate this album. This one in particular seems to be better oriented in avoiding musical onslaught for a better balanced moody-metal approach. And I'm very pleased with it.

The singer sounds a lot like Ozzy Osbourne, very theatrical and dark and the musicians are at the top of the game (as most of the prog metal musicians) and the result is quite entertaining and impressive. The bands know how long the compositions should go and the album is pretty short in comparison to other bands obsessed with filling every minute available with some technical virtuosity. Just over 48:00 minutes it's enough for them to prove they can compose, can play loud and remain interesting.

The production is not crystal clear (in fact, it sounds a little cheap but I'm sure it's on purpose). The sound is not polished, which gives a little raw ambient to the result and makes the album a little heavy than what actually is. Don't know about the lyrics, I just enjoy the mood, the performance and the very interesting journey through their music.

Now, if you don't like the metal, the growls and the technical aspect of prog, this is not the band for you. I know I'm pleased for knowing them, and though they are not in my top 5 favorite Prog Metal bands, They are surely a band that I should like to dig in. 4 stars is fair for a great contribution to any collection... especially for Prog Metal fans.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Each time I play this album I wonder why I don't like it more then the 3 stars I gave it. But after less then 20 minutes into each hearing I remember it again. This is one of those albums where the sum is less than its parts, where each song individually would easily own 4 stars, but where all of them together make for a weary experience. The reason? Those inadequate vocals again.

Crack the Skye is a logical continuation of Blood Mountain. The music has grown a lot and I would rave about this album had it been instrumental. Mastodon gave up the gruff singing almost entirely. Not a bad idea as such, given they weren't very good at it. Unfortunately, the nasal wail that has come to replace the harsh vocals isn't much convincing neither. The vocals sure have improved since Blood Mountain, but it still comes as a surprise that even with 3 band members in front of the microphone, they all seem to share the same limited range and a fervent determination to surpass Ozzy's whining tone.

Ok, enough whining on my part. The songs are strong, inspired and powerful, displaying a band having fun at whatever they do, mixing metal with psychedelic Eastern melodies and adventurous song structures, throwing in lot of variation and dynamics. Mastodon have come a long way since their debut. A way of growing ambition and musical confidence. Unfortunately they never got the energy back since they lost it after releasing their debut.

If only they would add a dedicated vocalist. Could I suggest Chris Cornell maybe? That would fire my interest!

Review by Flucktrot
4 stars We proggers are typically brave souls, but once in a great while, a band comes before us that we are afraid--perhaps even terrified--to experience.

Mastodon was one of those for me.

After reading about the band (and seeing pictures of the guys), I was fully expecting a punishing onslaught of self-inflicted pain when I finally decided to introduce myself to Mastodon. Then I saw reviews take a different tone with Crack the Skye.

As usual, I'm glad I didn't listen to my inner wimp, because this album has some killer prog. Mastodon are reaching the potential, and taking the progressive steps, that so many tech and/or speed metal bands could not--or would not--take.

If you don't like the heavy vocals (as I generally don't), do what I do...listen to only these 3 tracks: Oblivion, Czar, and Last Baron. I don't know if the boys intentionally kept these free of death growls, but I'm glad they did, and the vocals that are present are generally quite impressive, I must say! These tracks are alternatingly hypnotic and crushingly heavy. It's amazing to me in particular how powerful the drumming is without ever seeming mechanical or overly technical. Couple that with plenty of killer grooves, expertly transitioned, and you have some incredible music. In addition, it's important to note that Mastodon rarely kill time soloing here--this is simply tight songwriting coupled with musicianship.

Overall, I don't love the whole album, but I love nearly a half hour of it. Without a doubt, Mastodon add a new dimension to my metal/heavy prog playbook!

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A much-praised 2009 release. That I was unprepared to hear and appreciate back in when it came out as I was, at the time, un-educated and under-exposed to the Prog Metal/Tech Metal and Heavy Prog scenes.

1. "Oblivion" (5:52) bass and guitar machine gun arpeggi with singing performed by alternating voices of drummer Brann Dailor and lead guitarist Brent Hinds. I love the sound of this! A powerful, engaging, and impressive opener; good first impression. (9/10)

2. "Divinations" (3:32) give BLACK SABBATH a modern sound and more modern metal instrumental styles and this is what they might sound like. I like Brent Hinds soloing on the axe using three different sounds--as if he's duelling with himself in triplicate. (8/10)

3. "Quintessence" (6:35) a lot of MOTORPSYCHO sound to this one--especially in the drums and lead vocal during the verses. The chorus takes us more into head-banging territory before a surprising BEATLES-like passage. Interesting. I'm also reminded a lot of the VON HERTZEN BROTHERS. Far more simplistic song structures and performance displays than I was expecting. (8.5/10)

4. "The Czar" (10:55) (18.875/20) - i. Usurper - nice trippy launch into psychedelia (4.5/5) - ii. Escape - ramping up to SABBATH territory. Cool bass 'n' guitar riff in the A Section to sink into; great drumming. (9.5/10) - iii. Martyr - spacious psychedelic interlude is then filled with blues-metal walls of sound. (4.125/5) - iv. Spiral - weird little instrumental decay.

5. "Ghost of Karelia" (5:24) very nice power metal/prog metal with a fairly simple song structure but high quality performances by all of the instrumentalists. This drummer is very impressive! (8.5/10)

6. "Crack the Skye" (5:54) Death metal growls with almost saccharine MOTORPSYCHO-like choral vocals! Interesting. LINKIN PARK taken one step further? A great weave of instruments and then, surprise! a keyboard and vocoder in the fourth minute. And, of course, Brann Dailor's drumming is all over the place (perhaps even detracting from the song a bit in the final minute). (9.125/10)

7. "The Last Baron" (13:03) great music over which tandem singing and guitars trade leads with a melody for the first 3:20. Then there is s tempo speedup and new machine-gun fabric established over which an Ozzy-like vocal sings. Incredible band cohesion in the sixth minute! An almost-country STEVE HOWE-on-steroids guitar solo at 6:00. (Perhaps where fellow Atlantan Jared Leach modelled his guitar style for his band GHOST MEDICINE's 2016 album, Discontinuance.) At 8:25 there is another shift as new ZZ TOP-like motif and tempo are established--and then another one at 9:35 into a slower MOTORSPYCHO-like drawn out style. Overall, an incredibly impressive song--one of the best mid-length epics of the decade! (23.5/25)

Total Time 50:06

The song structures and performance displays are far simpler than I was expecting from this band--especially after all of the hoopla surrounding the original release of this album.

A-/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music and definitely a prog metal highlight of the 2000s; highly recommended as a wonderful addition to any prog lover's music collection.

Review by Andy Webb
4 stars Quintessence

Mastodon is well known as one of the most powerful bands in the modern progressive metal scene. With a fresh, creative style, young, fierce spirit, and the capability to make incredible music, they have a lot to offer. Through four studio albums, the band has shown their technical ability, willingness to experiment with their sound, and amazing ability with the music they make. On their latest offering, Crack the Skye, the band displays a much mellower, progressive sound, full of incredible experimental dissonance and sludge metal overtones. The entire album is an experimental powerhouse, packed to the brim with the band's finest music crafted yet. Overall, this album is truly a marvelous showing of 2009 and easily the band's best.

One thing that is obvious about this album's music even in the first few seconds is the infectious dissonance that is perfectly insinuated between the melodies and harmonies. The band's compositional quality is not that of what one would hear on an everyday progressive metal album, which makes this album truly unique in a really spectacular way. The band crafts their music in such a way as to keep that epic metal that they're known for while procuring a wonderful progressiveness about their music as to appeal pretty much any experimental metal fan.

The whole atmosphere of the music on this album is also quite incredible. To augment the dissonance about their music, the band inserts very subtle and appropriate filler aspects similar to what The Mars Volta has done; they use very quiet and subtle strings, chorus, and mellotron/Hammond fills to really fill in the gaps of their playing in a truly incredible way. It adds spectacular colour and depth to the music, and making the entire album a real blast to ride on. The whole album is brimming with genius compositions, and the great sludge- inspired insinuations add a nice flavor to the already experimental metal. Overall, musically, this is a truly wonderful album, and the band's best so far.

In the end, Crack the Skye is easily one of the better metal albums of 2009. Chock full of fantastic melodies (sludgey and scratchy but still fantastic), a wonderful experimental feel, two sublime epics (Czar and The Last Baron), and so much more. The band has truly shown their true colors here, expressing their willingness to morph the very sound they pride themselves on and their ability to delve into uncharted territory in the musical spectrum. Overall, this is truly a great album, and I recommend it to every metal fan out there. 4 stars.

Review by rushfan4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I Still Don't See It

My first couple of listens to this album gave me that "hey I might have found an extreme metal album that I actually like" feeling, but then I gave it the earphones and reading the lyrics test and it failed quite miserably. I have a difficult time with most extreme metal vocals as I don't particular care for the death metal growls or the incessant atonal screaming. While listening to this album the first couple of times I was pleased that the vocal style mostly didn't bother me. However, with this listen for preparing the review with the earphones on and the lyrics book open I realized how horrible the singing really was. It wasn't so much that they growled or that they screamed but more so that the singing just didn't match up with the music. The voice reminds me at times of Layne Stayley from Alice In Chains and at other times of Ozzy Osbourne, both vocalists who I think were/are great. The problem was that this voice just didn't seem to match up well with the music. I constantly had that feeling that one gets when you are listening to music on your car stereo with the windows down and the car next to you is blasting music that gets intertwined with what you are listening to. I don't really know of a great way to explain it other than to say that the vocals just don't fit the music for me. It just seemed as though one person sat down and wrote lyrics and started singing them in one room and the rest of the band members were in separate rooms playing their instruments to the beat of their own drummers so to speak and then the producer took all of these separate parts and combined them and called it a song without actually making sure that the pieces of the puzzle fit. My other problem really is that the lyrics really aren't very good and not much thought really went in to filling out the songs with the lyrics. The capital sin here was that on each and every song they would come up with a stanza and then rather than coming up with new lyrics for the rest of the song or adding or completing the story they would just go back to the original stanza and repeat it. I know that many prog fans don't consider lyrics to be that important, and that quite frankly there are many prog bands that just aren't very good at writing lyrics. I love prog music for the music itself and the skill that the musicians have playing their respective instruments, but my favorite prog music is the music that has good lyrics that speak to me, or in the cases of songs with "bad" lyrics where the vocal style is such that it is in harmony with the music that is being played to support it. I'm afraid that in the case of this album neither of these is the case. I see on the album page that there was a bonus disc release with strictly instrumentals, and although I don't have this version, I have a feeling that this would be a case of addition by subtraction. Musically this feels like a 3 star, good but not essential, but overall because I just don't like the lyrics or the vocal style I would have to say that this is a 2 star for fans only of this style of music.

Review by Warthur
4 stars As you might expect from an album named after one of the more obscure 1970s progressive rock bands (Crack the Sky, no "e" on the Sky), this Mastodon album has a certain nostalgic vibe to it - it feels, in fact, like Mastodon taking a stab at making stoner metal, right down to the vocals which sound a lot like Sabotage-era Ozzy Osbourne. (Indeed, if you Crack the Skye do you get a Hole In the Skye?)

Of course, this is stoner metal filtered through Mastodon's distinctive sludgy-prog aesthetic, so this isn't purely an exercise in nostalgia - instead, it's a lightning raid on the past, plundering whatever works best for the purposes of Mastodon's compositional goals and leaving behind what doesn't work for them and in this way advancing their sound even as they pay tribute to their influences.

Review by Sinusoid
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.

Review by The Crow
5 stars After their good debut album Remission, the excellent Leviathan and the bit disappointing Blood Mountain, Mastodon finally achieved true greatness with Crack the Skye!!!

This album is the perfect mix of all that this band made before adding an extra prog layer to their music, containing this album true epic progressive masterpieces like The Czar and The Last Baron, mixed with incredibly good shorter tracks with the typical Mastodon eerie sound and insanely good instrumental work but also more accessible.

It's hard to explain because this album really has everything that this band has to offer condensed in a single record but more progressive than ever, making it a true masterpiece of modern prog-metal.

Best Tracks: there is no fillers here, but I specially love the longer ones.

Conclusion: Crack the Skye is an amazing album from start to finish. The band achieved a perfect mixture between technique and accessibility, power and progression, brutality and melody, making this album a clear peak in their career.

Sadly, although Mastodon maintained always a good level of quality in their music, they have been not able to regain the magic of Crack the Skye in another album yet.

My rating: *****

Review by A Crimson Mellotron
4 stars In the ever-expanding and perpetually changing sonic universe of Mastodon, 2009's 'Crack the Skye' stands as a true magnum opus - their most intense work so far, equally emotive, entertaining and resonating, this concept album about a paraplegic who goes astral travelling and experiences several otherworldly events, facing crazy obstacles along the way, like assassins hired by the Russian Czar going after him, while in Rasputin's body, has deservedly received universal acclaim and has become one of the band's best-selling albums to date - a pleasure for the listener, and a masterwork by the Atlanta-based progressive metal quartet, 'Crack the Skye' is one of the 21st century albums that will go down as a classic.

Expanding on the progressive aspect in their sound, the band take the conceptual side and the tight songwriting of 'Blood Mountain', as well as the raw power and heaviness of 'Leviathan' - both very important albums in their development, and 'crank them up to eleven', resulting in their most focused and tightest recording up to that point. Another important event surrounding 'Crack the Skye' is the addition of Brann Dailor as the third lead vocalists, who goes on to sing leads on 'Oblivion' and the title track which happens to be dedicated to his deceased sister, Skye, committing suicide at the age of fourteen - a discouraging and scary event that has surely affected the drummer's work.

The album starts off with 'Oblivion', one of the two songs supporting the album as a single, an epic three-headed hydra of a track, with its distinct verse, pre-chorus and chorus sections, each of which features Dailor, Sanders, and Hinds' vocals, along with a masterful psychedelic-y guitar solo from Brent Hinds; this is also the beginning of the story, where the protagonist leaves his physical body and embarks on his spiritual journey, almost burning his umbilical cord as he flies too close to the sun - the mythological reference is an interesting part of the album's concept. 'Divinations' tells the episode of the protagonist's story where he gets trapped inside a wormhole and his 'spirit is captured' - yes, this also happens to the poor man; as for the song itself, it is the shortest on the album and takes on some country inspirations, as weird as this sounds. 'Quintessence' is another 70s-inspired proggy and heavy track, on which the protagonist continues his spiritual journey, leading to the first big epic, the four-part intense ride that is 'The Czar'. This is also where it gets conceptually even wackier, as the protagonist of the story gets his soul put inside Rasputin's body which means that he has to usurp the Tsar's throne. After he is murdered, the two souls fly away through 'a crack in the skye'; musically, this is one of Mastodon's finest moments, the three main distinct sections are very powerful, well-produced and instantly memorable ? one of the most intriguing 21st century prog metal epics. Then comes 'Ghost of Karelia', a song that might have come directly out of 'Blood Mountain' with its frenzy, acrobatic guitar playing - and on that accord, a side note: the soloing is absolutely excellent all throughout the album, arguably the most imaginative on any Mastodon release. Following this one, is the already-mentioned title track, that features Scott Kelly from Neurosis on lead vocals; the heaviest and obviously most emotional (for Brann Dailor) song on the album. Finishing off is the second big epic, the 13-minute 'The Last Baron' - in-your-face riffs, great vocals, wacky lyrics, and masterful solos, this song has great tonality, it is absolutely memorable; conceptually, it has to do with running away from the devil, after stumbling upon him by chance.

Fifty minutes of intense and profound progressive metal, a really engaging and convincing conceptual piece of work, elevated by the mind-blowing artwork, an aspect in which Mastodon never disappoint. Arguably the best album that this band has created, I believe that 'Crack the Skye' will be universally considered a classic, sooner or later, as many fans and critics have already expressed their admiration to this truly entertaining epic work.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Second masterpiece in a row and the last one they have put out (at least at the moment). Crack the Skye is the most celebrated Mastodon album and I can see why. Personally, I like it as much as Blood Mountain, but CTS is a lot more melodious, prog-oriented and doesn't have any of the sludge riff ... (read more)

Report this review (#2649456) | Posted by eduardico21 | Saturday, December 4, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Finally something to meet the tastes of a prog elitist, or does it? It shouldn't matter because the album is a great metal album. I personally believe that Mastodon is a very progressive band, others may not think that, but regardeless it is a great metal album. Crack the Skye is very heavy as usual ... (read more)

Report this review (#2151494) | Posted by progtime1234567 | Sunday, March 3, 2019 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1499353) | Posted by Ghost_of_Prog | Monday, December 14, 2015 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Listening diary 4th September, 2021: Mastodon - Crack the Skye (progressive metal, 2009) I've always liked this album, but in recent years I've appreciated it more and more, to the point where I absolutely agree with its acclaim as one of prog metal's absolute finest moments. The fusion between p ... (read more)

Report this review (#1266892) | Posted by Gallifrey | Wednesday, September 3, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 10/10 The masterpiece I knew it would be. Mastodon at its apex; nothing more. I have watched as they gradually evolved their sound, but Crack the Skye is the culmination of this evolution and more. The vocals are at their best, instrumentation too (even though the style of Brann Dailor is ... (read more)

Report this review (#942795) | Posted by voliveira | Thursday, April 11, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A Good Buye As I'm relatively new to this band (I only heard LEVIATHAN apart from this one), I'm not going to go on at length about how CRACK THE SKYE is different from the previous albums and how good or bad the change turned out to be. Maybe it's more progressive, less metal or more eclec ... (read more)

Report this review (#528701) | Posted by bartosso | Wednesday, September 21, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is definitely Mastodon's proggiest album yet, especially when you compare it to the Call of the Mastodon EP or Remission. They have been primarily a metal band. Yet in their previous albums Leviathan and Blood Mountain they have led slightly away from pure bone- crushing metal to adding so ... (read more)

Report this review (#482664) | Posted by thesleeper72 | Thursday, July 14, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Doesnīt need any introduction to the album really, and no track by track either when itīs a couple of years the album saw itīs release date. I know the songs pretty well by now, and itīs simply a record you need to be in the state of mind to listen to all way through, a non stressfull mode bas ... (read more)

Report this review (#478618) | Posted by Sonicprogscape | Friday, July 8, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I'm sure I dismissed this band a while ago as one of those new American metal bands that are crap, silly tattoos and earings, but.....this album is a masterpiece. The pot is full of ingredients, if I can mention a few to make it worthwhile for some to listen: Late Ozzy era Sabbath, the creat ... (read more)

Report this review (#340589) | Posted by praj912 | Thursday, December 2, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars As you can see in my lists this is my choice for the best 2009 album. The main reason is obvious. They jump from alternative to progressive metal in a completely natural way and that is a feast for people who share love with Tool, Metallica, The Mars Volta, System of a Down or even King Crimso ... (read more)

Report this review (#270058) | Posted by DTJesus | Sunday, March 7, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars This is the first album that i listen from this american band called Mastodon, and i Will stop here. There are good few momments in this album, but the problem that i have listen to this is the type of voice from the singer, horrible, sometimes reminds me the style from Ozzy and Rob Zombie, and so ... (read more)

Report this review (#269433) | Posted by JgX 5 | Wednesday, March 3, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars After seeing this album placed highly in several best-of-year lists, I decided to get it to see what the fuss was about. After several plays, I'm still trying to work out what the fuss was about. As prog-metal, it is pretty ordinary, and lacking in any real inventiveness. All its elements are ... (read more)

Report this review (#259407) | Posted by dmwilkie | Tuesday, January 5, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I had never really listened to Mastodon before a friend of mine came by one day saying that apparantly their new release was great. To my surprise I found it on spotify and put it on, thinking that we'd keep it on in the background while playing video games, both skeptical due to our idea that Ma ... (read more)

Report this review (#248029) | Posted by Lezaza | Tuesday, November 3, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 5 STARS... a classic instantly. The best album of the year, in competition only with riverside and motW album's. They perfected the formula of the first album's going to a more progressive zone, with influences of King Crimson, Rush, Genesis and Pink Floyd. For me the band was always Progressive ... (read more)

Report this review (#244428) | Posted by LSL | Tuesday, October 13, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Wow. Just.....Wow. Mastodon releases an album that is, for me, up there with the classics. I've never heard music that can be so heavy, yet atmospheric; so "metal", yet with so much emotion. The albums that go down in history are those that sound completely fresh and new. Mastodon has achieve ... (read more)

Report this review (#239124) | Posted by Tarquin Underspoon | Sunday, September 13, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I found LEVIATHAN and BLOOD MOUNTAIN to be fantastic albums. Mastodon have managed to create a unique twist of metal/prog they have been fine-tuning over the years, every album up a notch. so I was very piqued to find out what their new album sounded like. I got it as soon as I could, and I can o ... (read more)

Report this review (#221611) | Posted by Arrakis | Wednesday, June 17, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Crack the Skye, crack it with some heavy epic [&*!#]!!! This album is a great piece of unique progressive metal. What makes it so unique is it isn't completely metal, or prog. Hell it isn't even 50/50. Its a great mix of various elements of both metal and prog. It borrows the intense intricate ... (read more)

Report this review (#221228) | Posted by TheLastBaron | Sunday, June 14, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars To my belief, Mastodon are one of the more overrated bands in the area of Tech/Extreme. I do not know it seems that either it is the era of the Mega Therion(Mastodon is a mammal-beast that existed after dinosaurs)for unexplained reasons or the promotion is actually successful. Of course they have ... (read more)

Report this review (#220918) | Posted by mel from hell | Saturday, June 13, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Crack The Skye is an excellent release by Mastodon. Although there are plenty of metal bands that have groove, heaviness, along with a mystical aura, none achieve the vibe that comes along with this album. Among the heavy and melodic guitar, most of the album contains haunting singing by 3 of th ... (read more)

Report this review (#217907) | Posted by topofsm | Saturday, May 23, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars It is done.Mastodon has finally welded together a once again marvelous yet for the first time entirely a genre that is rightfully their own.It is Mastodon music. :P The most negative thing that I would have to state about this album here is that it doesn't have the rich dyanmics that made the p ... (read more)

Report this review (#217257) | Posted by Spellcraft | Thursday, May 21, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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