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Crack the Skye (CD & DVD)

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(48 Reviews)

Mastodon Biography - Mastodon Discography - All Heavy Metal Bands


  • Tracks:
  • When
  • Ghost of Perdition
  • Under the Weeping Moon
  • Bleak


Deluxe Edition contains a bonus DVD featuring the making of Crack The Skye. Mastodon has taken hold of the leadership of the New Wave of Progressive Heavy Metal. The band’s 2006 major-label debut Blood Mountain spun off a Grammy nomination and earned Top 5 Best Album Of The Year nods from Kerrang!, Revolver, and Metal Hammer, and a Top 10 at Rolling Stone. Now Crack The Skye, its fourth original studio album, mines subject matter from czarist Russia and astral travel to out-of-body experiences and Stephen Hawking’s theories on wormholes for an unrepentantly heavy aural assault that will shake the heavens.

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  • Now that I have had a good week to absorb the album and sink my teeth into it, I can honestly say that this is the best Mastodon Album to date and I consider myself a big fan and own all their material. If you are looking for brutal and angry, short blasts of molten metal songs, look to the older stuff. If you are looking for a well thought out, layered album that has many twist and turns and really shows off the brilliance of the four personalities coming together and pouring all their creativity and imagination into somewhat of a dare I say it “concept album” Then you will truly enjoy this. They dial back the distortion a little bit but not the intensity and display the most intricate and detailed songs they have ever written. The reason I hesitate to compare this album to concept albums of the past is because usually I think of stuffiness and over the top grandiose from those types of records, this on the other hand has a very natural flowing feel and does not feel forced or contrived in any way. This is the type of album that at first listen you might say it’s alright, but by several listens you will consider it a masterpiece. And the funny part about it is that although the songs are long, it does not feel long overall but instead seems very short. There is a definite classic rock prog feel on some parts but it never feels like you are listening to 70’s bands but instead something that is very modern and present.

    I was very leery of hearing that there would be keyboards, but they are done in such a way, that they totally fit the songs and are more of an accent in the background. The track “Ghost of Karelia” at some parts reminds me of a hint of something off the Voivod Nothingface album. “Divinations” is the shortest song and sounds the most like the older material but even at that they add a different feel and there is a surf guitar sounding solo that Brent Hinds rips on, but it doesn’t sound like traditional surf but is mastodonized and fits the song perfectly. The CZAR and Crack the sky are Epic songs, that im not going to even get into, you will have to listen yourself to experience it.

    The Deluxe edition with the DVD is the way to go and is worth the price by itself, proving to be very entertaining and inspirational.

    Even though 2009 is only 4 months in I’m going to say this will probably be album of the year on many lists. A truly amazing record overall that I know I will be listening to many times and can’t wait to see them Live!

    Posted on March 5, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I was really looking forward to this album and was not let down at all but I still think Leviathon is still their finest hour,but Whoa this is a way different album indeed,gone are the deathlike vocals,what we have here folks is a way prog album like King Crimson or Yes or Rush gone more metal,even the song titles sound like Rush songs, would have loved to hear them do a cover version of 21st century schizoid man [ yes I know it has been done too death] {April Wine,Forbidden,Voivod,}to name a few,what we have here is like Ozzy singing a Rush album and it works fantastic the album just keeps getting better as it goes along and the last song [The Last Baron] is 13 glorious minutes of prog exctasy Fantastic

    Posted on March 5, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Mastodon’s latest album, Crack the Skye, is easily one of their best works to date, and possibly the best album of the year. I know it’s really early in the year, but I feel pretty safe in saying that there might not be a metal album better than this for the rest of the year.

    I don’t think it’s fair to compare this album to their other works because all their stuff is so different. I personally love the fact that they have evolved so much. Crack the Skye is possibly the most radical change of all but they execute this change in a masterful way.

    After I listened to the whole album in one sitting, I was blown away. This album is very progressive, but not in an annoying way. Here’s what I mean by that: My friend recently turned me on to a band called Between the Buried and Me. They are a great prog metal band, but I find myself constantly asking him “Which song is playing now?” because each of their songs has several very dramatic and abrupt style changes that makes it sound like a completely different song all together. That’s not a bad thing, but the change is so abrupt that it tends to get kind of annoying at times. What makes this album different are the amazing transitions. I don’t really know how to put it into words, but the songs seem to sort of build up to the next sound. The best way to understand this is to just listen to track four, “The Czar”, which I consider Mastodon’s “Stairway to Heaven”. This track is broken up into four distinct parts, but it’s easy to tell when the whole track is complete.

    Speaking of “The Czar” reminds me this album has so much groove. Once you have listened to this classic from start to finish, this album will find a home in your car’s CD player for months to come. I think the greatest compliment I can give this album, is in the fact that in all the times I have listened to it (around 20+ times) I have not skipped a single song. Ever. Every single song on this album is amazing and you will find it hard to skip over any of them even on multiple listens.

    I can’t find a fault with this album. The riffs are amazing. The guitars sound amazing. The vocals are beautifully eerie, and the drums (Brann Dailor is one of my favorite drummers) plays a big part in creating the unique sound in this album.

    Overall, I am very proud to place this album on my shelf next to masterpieces such as Leviathan, Blood Mountain, and Remission.

    Posted on March 5, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Mastodon is a rare band in the metal community; one that both enjoys and is cursed by a sort-of ongoing “sophomore album” syndrome. Every release is so punishing in it’s technical proficiency and expertly crafted songwriting methods that the inevitable question is asked on the dawn of each new release: “Can they top that?” Ye of little faith prepare to be destroyed. However much Leviathan reinvented metal for you or Blood Mountain took your preconceptions of extreme music and spun them upside-down into a product which seamlessly blended infectious hooks and world-class musicianship, Crack The Skye has Mastodon outdoing themselves once again.

    The sound quality has become significantly better than past Mastodon releases with A-list producer Brendan O’Brien behind the mixing board, utilizing cutting edge sound manipulation while maintaining the gritty, raw sound which captures the massive wingspan of the ferocious musical beast that is Mastodon. The instrumentation follows in suit and will be no surprise to longtime fans. Hinds and Kelliher’s guitars weave fluidly together like a pair of crushing pythons locked in a twisted yet beautiful discordant harmony, backed by Troy Sanders’ dependably thundering basslines and Brann Dailor’s jazzy and seemingly 8-armed drum style.

    As for the album itself, it’s structure lays waste to the modern music critic theory of the concept album being dead. With lyrics weaving together a violent plot of Czarist Russia and out-of-body terrestrial experiences which simultaneously convey deep meaning and utter ambiguity, the room for interpretation is limitless. In a world where music is cheaply stolen off the Internet with few consequences, this most cohesive of “was that just 1 song or 10?” recordings demands your hard-earned money and a spin on a good stereo. And no, your iPod doesn’t count. When buying, expect exactly what you got last time you bought a Mastodon album: positively shattered expectations and the deja vous-like conviction that they’ll never be able to top themselves this time. Of course, you were wrong then and will doubtlessly be again as long as the Mastodon breathes.

    Posted on March 5, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I, like many, wasn’t sure what to expect from “Crack the Skye.” Early reports described it as “spacey” and “creepy,” with a classic rock feel, and the introduction of mainstream producer Brendan O’Brien raised further questions about the sound. Having heard the album, I can say that the change is fundamental: “Crack the Skye” is a metallic prog album, whereas Mastodon had previously been a metal band first and foremost, though one with progressive and technical tendencies. Fortunately, the album is not entirely lacking in the old Mastodon feel, with guitarwork and drumming that should be easily recognizable for any serious fan. The basic songwriting, however, is radically different. Whereas earlier works were primarily horizontal, emphasizing the progression through various sections, “Crack the Skye” is much more spacious and vertical, with densely layered arrangements of guitars (sludgy power chords, acoustic arpeggios, frantic leads often all at once) atop synths and unconventional percussion to aid the conventional rhythm section. Perhaps most significantly, the vox, originally barked and howled, are now almost entirely ethereal, gliding melodies at the center of the instrumental maelstrom. The feel is finally different: while “Blood Mountain” and “Remission” charged over the listener, “Crack the Skye” engulfs him. Because of this, nothing on “Crack the Skye” has the sheer visceral power of “Workhorse,” “Blood and Thunder” or “Capillarian Crest,” and those, like myself, who are primarily metal fans may not find the change totally ideal. Personally, though I can’t permanently rank it after only 15 or so listens, I seriously doubt I will ever like “Crack the Skye” as much as I do their previous three albums. This, however, speaks more to the excellence of those albums than to any weakness on this album’s part. On one level, this makes “Crack the Skye” even more impressive: while Mastodon have deemphasized much of what drew me to them initially, they’ve still crafted a terrific album that is sure to be amongst the year’s best, and which further secures their position as the metal band of the 00s.

    All that said, I was not overly impressed on my initial listen. This isn’t surprising, as any dense album requires many listens to appreciate, but the relative weakness of the opening tracks is also a cause. “Oblivion” and “Divinations” are the most straight forward songs found here, making them both accessible and not particular striking. They’re solid, enjoyable songs, but, in spite of the elaborate production, amount to little more than an extended intro, a few riffs and vocal lines followed by a lead break. It’s always wise to include a relatively straightforward track or two on a dense album like this, but they aren’t as either ferocious or catchy as they ought to be. Here the more layered, less bruising production holds the album back, but the only other option would be to make these songs sound radically different from the others, an unwise stylistic choice.

    Fortunately, from “Quintessence” on the album is terrific. Here the dynamic range is opened dramatically, with quick alterations between spidery licks, ghostly acoustics, and knotty, pounding riffage. Even better is “Ghost of Karelia,” which ratchets up the eerie eastern feel and adds rapid-fire time changes, while the title track creates a droning space-sludge atmosphere where the simple vocal melodies and piercing leads occasionally rise above the mass of sound. None of these three songs was especially striking initially, partially because they are so organically structured, but after a few listens the plain melodies insinuated themselves, and the dense arrangements are more fully revealed. These are great songs, and I’ve no doubt I’ll come to like them more.

    Interestingly enough, the epics are actually the most immediately memorable songs. They are quite distinct: “The Czar” is probably my favorite track, with repetitive, instantly memorable vocal melodies paired with a driving, groovy middle break. Conversely, “The Last Baron” is the most conventionally Mastodon-style track despite the extreme length, with a brutally intense tech-metal middle break that reminds greatly of “Blood Mountain” and is highlighted by Dailor’s frenetic, fill-heavy drumming. (Which, somewhat sadly, is generally deemphasized here.) These tracks draw attention to themselves in a way that the others do not, but not so much that they seem out of place. They are meant to be the centerpieces of the album, and fulfill this role beautifully.

    As good as the individual tracks are, “Crack the Skye” is better than the sum of its parts, largely because it is a concept album, which naturally seem more grandiose than conventional works when executed properly. The plot, a rather peculiar tale of astral projection, occult rituals and WWI-era Russia, doesn’t interest me much (though at least it isn’t so stupid as to detract from the album [Operation: Mindcrime, anyone?]), but it does manage a level of unity rare in the genre, and lacks the fat and senseless pyrotechnics that mar many prog metal albums. “Crack the Skye” is a concept album, but it never feels as though it has artificially been transformed into one, if you catch my meaning.

    I will be curious to see where Mastodon go from here. They’ve already achieved a level of popularity far higher than I would’ve thought possible when I first heard “Remission,” and considering the surprising resurgence in prog, Mastodon may continue to rise. Again, part of me would prefer that they head back into more metallic arenas, but “Crack the Skye” is so good a first attempt that it’s conceivable that they could surpass those earlier works later in this new style. Whatever they do, I will look forward to it eagerly.

    Check it out.

    Posted on March 4, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now