Mastodon – Crack The Skye

Mastodon witnessed a steady grow of popularity with the release of each successive record. In some way their story is identical with the rise of Opeth. Both bands have long and often complex compositions as the backbone of their musical exploits and are heavily influenced by a vast array of progressive rock and metal bands. Without compromising their style, both bands managed to become part of the metal mainstream on their own terms. An impressive feat on account of them both. Crack The Skye is the most recent album by Mastodon and in my opinion their most refined yet.

From Leviathan (2004) on the band are constantly refining and updating their sound. The culmination of that evolutionary process is Crack The Skye. The interaction between shorter tracks like Oblivion and Divinations and epic behemoths like The Czar and The Last Baron is better than ever. Both really complement each other and give this album a mature sense of grandeur.

Crack The Skye is also quite accessible, because most of the growled vocals and screams are dropped in favour of a cleaner style of singing. It’s still gritty though, fuelled by gallons of Jack Daniels and other similar beverages. Brain Dailor shows more restraint on his often complex drumming style, giving songs like Ghost Of Karelia, Quintessence and The Last Baron more breathing space. This really adds to the mature feel of this record.

Despite all the progressive tendencies, grandiose themes and the band’s collective musical prowess, Mastodon still have the soul of a blues drenched southern rock band. That element has diminished somewhat compared to Remission and Leviathan, but it’s still unmistakably there. This is what gives Mastodon their edge in my opinion. Producer Brendan O’Brien (Pearl Jam, AC/DC) is responsible for the open and crisp sound of Crack The Skye.

Crack The Skye by Mastodon is their most accomplished effort to date. It shows the band at the pinnacle of their creative skills. This album isn’t as rough around the edges as their earlier material, but as long as it’s compensated by such incredible song material as on Crack The Skye, I couldn’t care less. This is an essential record and a classic in the purest sense of the word, period.

written by Raymond Westland

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