Review of Mastodon's "Crack the Skye"
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)
- Oblivion- 5:47
- Divinations- 3:39
- Quintessence- 5:27
- The Czar- 10:54
- Ghost of Karelia- 5:25
- Crack the Skye- 5:54
- The Last Baron- 13:00
All written by Mastodon except Crack the skye, which features Scott Kelly on vocals.
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.
- Mastodon - Oblivion [Official Music Video] - YouTube
© 2011 WMG "Oblivion" by Mastodon from 'Crack The Skye,' available now. Download on iTunes: http://bit.ly/qkMINE Links: Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Mas...
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.
- Mastodon - Divinations [Official Music Video] - YouTube
© 2011 WMG "Divinations" by Mastodon from 'Crack The Skye,' available now. Download on iTunes: http://bit.ly/qkMINE Links: Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/...
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.
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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