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Review of Mastodon's "Crack the Skye"

Updated on July 5, 2012
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Cover | Source

Intro to Mastodon

For those of you who do not know, Mastodon is a "sludge" metal band who hit major success with their 2009 album, which is the album being reviewed in this Hub. For more info on the band, as well as their other releases, check out their wiki page. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mastodon_%28band%29

Crack the Skye info and tracklist (from Wikipedia)

  1. Oblivion- 5:47
  2. Divinations- 3:39
  3. Quintessence- 5:27
  4. The Czar- 10:54
  5. Ghost of Karelia- 5:25
  6. Crack the Skye- 5:54
  7. The Last Baron- 13:00

All written by Mastodon except Crack the skye, which features Scott Kelly on vocals.



Oblivion

The starting tune of the album with the song, Oblivion, is reflective of what is to come the rest of the CD. It is somewhat haunting and eerie, keeps the listener from moving to something else. If you've listened to other Mastodon albums, you know that this is something new. Slightly more melodic, and much less heavy. The vocals between the soft and harsh sounds is a good balance in the song. However, the following seemingly aimless solo that follows through detracts the overall quality of the tune. It finished with a heavier riff near the end and then the same chorus. As you can see from the video, the album does feel very "spacey" and deals with universal travels and the like.

Divinations

One of the better songs on the album, Divinations features an almost banjo-like intro and shifts into the main riff. The chorus is melodic compared to the harsher lyrics that go with the riff. This is one of the top songs on the album due to the great musical skill shown, and at a length that is perfect for what the song needs.

Quintessence

This is probably the most melodic song sung by Hinds, who usually sings in a much harsher style. Another shift is seen in the song, where the bassist bellows "Let him go!" over and over. This is, however, as heavy as it gets. It also seems to be reflective of my major criticism of the album, it isn't very "metal," but more groovy or psychedelic.

The Czar

Now, this epic song clocks in at eleven minutes, but the good kind of eleven minutes, with music and lyrics that have some sort of value; not like Metallica's Lulu. Appropriately, the song is divided into Usurper/Escape/Martyr/Spiral. When Escape starts, the drummer starts off the lyrics before we see the balance of the harsh/clam vocals. The heaviest part of the song, if not the whole album, is seen around 7:30 where the song sees a sort of climax. The impressive thing about this song is its uniqueness and how it fits so perfectly into the "progressive" category of music. Its complexity, not to mention time signatures and rotating music sections, is what justifies and qualifies the length.

Ghost of Karelia

Written by all the members of Mastodon, this song takes the slower path. Very hard to describe with words. Take a look, and listen, to the lyrics that start it off. "wrathful one, nine eyes gaze, holding skulls, filled and laced, human blooooooood..." The way the words are delivered coupled with the almost mysterious music make this one of the more memorable songs on the cd.

Crack the Skye

Scott Kelly of Neurosis takes over on vocals on this one, but his contribution is almost negatively countered by the drummer's softer vocals. It is somewhat disappointing how, when the harsher tone that the album needs is overcome by less fitting vocals, it detracts from the song as a whole. Later, there is some pretty good mechanical words spoken to accompany the guitar solo, which is the best on the album. It finishes with the same format of which it began.

The Last Baron - Conclusion

To finish the album, The Last Baron, the longest song at 13 minutes, is [s[omewhat of a parad[ox. To start, it is too long for what it is. Secondly, that is a shame because it has some trademark Mastodon moments that are severely lacking in the rest of the album. Key point, check out the 6 minute mark. Overall, it is difficult, I bet, for even the band to play this whole thing live without forgetting what riff comes next or how far along they are in the song.

In conclusion, the album is a departure from Mastodon's previous efforts. It is great to expand one's horizons, but to do so by stripping the music of the essential sound that was what made you great to begin with is not worth it. Is the album any good? Absolutely. Does it surpass their previous records? No. Overall: 7/10

Good: Some solid grooves added to their setlist, very chilled and melodic music.

Bad: Lacks much of the heaviness that made their other records classics. The parts that are heavy leave metal fans wanting more and feeling teased.

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    • Steve Orion profile image
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      Steve Orion 5 years ago from Tampa, Florida

      Well, I think their first album, while of general quality, wasn't as good as their latest. Thanks for the recommendation, I've heard their name occasionally, but never checked out a tune until now. They have some interesting videos!

    • Cinephiliac profile image

      Cinephiliac 5 years ago

      I love all of the Mastodon albums but I think "The Hunter" is my least favorite due to it not being cohesive as an album. It all works together but not quite as well as their other albums. "Blood Mountain" is a close second in terms of favorite.

      I forgot to mention it before but if you like Mastodon you should check out Baroness (if you haven't already). Their newest album "Yellow & Green" is coming out tomorrow and it's pretty awesome. It's a little more subdued than their previous two albums, "Red Album" and "Blue Record," though.

    • Steve Orion profile image
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      Steve Orion 5 years ago from Tampa, Florida

      Thanks for the comment, Ciephiliac! This was one of my first Hubs, so it's interesting to look back at it; I've improved in quality, I would hope!

      But it's interesting that this is your favorite. I would rank this album third behind "Leviathan" and "Blood Mountain," and slightly ahead "The Hunter."

      In any case, thanks for reading and commenting! Lulu is, indeed, garbage. Here's hoping it's nothing like their next album!

    • Cinephiliac profile image

      Cinephiliac 5 years ago

      I checked out your review of "Leviathan" and agreed with it for the most part. However, "Crack the Skye" is my favorite Mastodon album and I'd have to say that it's perfection. It is not necessarily the direction in which I'd like Mastodon to continue going in (which they didn't with their newest album, "The Hunter") but it was a marvelous departure from their core sound and a work of prog art. I saw them play this album live during their co-headlining tour with Dethklok back in 2009. Amazing show.

      On a side note... "Lulu" is a piece of garbage. Worst album I have ever heard in my entire life.

    • Steve Orion profile image
      Author

      Steve Orion 5 years ago from Tampa, Florida

      Any comments are appreciated, even if you disagree!