AlbumsNovember 29, 201116,169 views

Mastodon Crack the Skye

1. Oblivion 2. Divinations 3. Quintessence 4. The Czar: I Usurper, II Escape, III Martyr, IV Spiral 5. Ghost Of Karelia 6. Crack The Skye 7. The Last Baron
2009 Warner Bros. Records
Our score 9


Like everyone else with a copy of Remission and an Internet connection, I downloaded Crack The Skye as soon as it reared its ugly head on cyberspace- the version without the long last song. I actually listened to the entirety of the first two songs and then part of the long ass third, and gave up. I tried again. Nothing stuck. All I heard was four dudes doing their damnedest to play complicated music. Since this was Mastodon and I actually like Blood Mountain, I gave the album another shot. And another. Discouraged, I resigned myself to the fact that this record was a dud. Two weeks later I obtained the complete album. I listened again and somehow it clicked. Maybe it was hearing the majestic final song. Perhaps that was the key to unlock the greatness of this maligned, misunderstood record. Whatever the case, I am a convert. Blood Mountain critics will not rejoice over Crack The Skye. Mastodon continue to employ those questionable vocals some many derisively label neo-grunge or worse, nu-metal. The songs are longer, more complicated and stuffed with more musical gymnastics care of every member of the band. While the arrangements sometimes seem haphazard, the striking juxtapositions usually work wonders. The band can be criticized for devoting too much time to wanking and losing themselves in their constantly shifting grooves. Yet like the prog kings of yore (Yes in particular), Mastodon excel because they can show off to such an extreme degree and still write engaging songs. They begin confidently with "Oblivion," setting the tone for the complicated material to follow. A foreboding introduction jumps unexpectedly to a seesawing section coated in cleanly sung vocals. The chorus offers memorable riffs and more of that southern-rock crooning many fans find objectionable. "Divinations" follows, beginning with banjo and then kicking in like old Mastodon, with a crazed, swirling rhythm that segues into a galloping classic metal beat. Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher continue to out-guitar themselves with wild, innovative riffs, as with the winding, serpentine guitar lines in the song's chorus. They demonstrate constantly throughout the record why they are regarded as one of the most creative ax wielding tag teams this side of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith. "Quintessence," "The Czar" and "The Last Baron" are the album's longest and most challenging songs. Each features frenzied, schizophrenic arrangements and jaw-dropping musicianship. The only band coming close to this level of musical ADD is The Mars Volta; while that band gets lost in a '70s haze of salsa grooves and electronic-trickery, Mastodon opt for endless metal-oriented instrumental workouts. "The Czar" is divided into three distinct sections, from the heavy to the ethereal. It features prominent keyboard and piano amidst the rolling musical seas, all of it anchored by Troy Sanders simple though effective bass lines. "The Last Baron" is the better of the extended epics, a 13 minute plus summation of everything the band attempts here. If other passages of the album feel a little forced or superfluous, it all comes together on this song. Drummer Brann Dailor's performance is characteristically unhinged and technically peerless. They add a brief choir effect, a swinging Pantera groove section and conclude the song with the introductory segment. It's a good thing producer Brendan O'Brien did not slip Ritalin into the band's whiskey. While the harsh surge of the past is absent, Mastodon is growing into a wilder and more intriguing beast. They've gotten more comfortable with the vocals (allowing Scott Kelly to handle screaming duties on the title song) while becoming more confident and fearless as musicians. Crack The Skye is not an easy album to digest. But its worth is proven with repeated and devoted listening. Bottom Line: Latter day Mastodon evokes a love and hate response from fans of the band's earlier period. Crack The Skye continues the progression (emphasis on prog) away from their raucous, raging beginnings. This one needs a few plays to sink in.


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al_czervik_ 4/30/2009 9:07:02 PM

god dammit, i f*cking loved this album. go to hell.

chefsam_ 4/30/2009 9:27:31 PM

Wow, this might be the first correct review i've ever read on this site.

wow_ 4/30/2009 9:31:27 PM

it actually does take a couple listens, but it's much better than blood mountain. still liked leviathan better

guy_ 4/30/2009 9:50:56 PM

some more suckin mastadons dck. i dont give a f*ck about this band

RobRed_ 4/30/2009 10:40:16 PM

First Mastodon album I actually enjoyed listening to. 9/10 is a perfect score.

zzz_ 5/1/2009 12:55:13 AM

Good album, piss poor vocals... I don't see why they need 3 guys doing vox when only one sounds good...

coffinworlds_ 5/1/2009 3:06:45 AM

this does not deserve a nine, jeez.

you're absolutely right_ 5/1/2009 3:18:11 AM

This album will undoubtedly stand out as the best album of 2009!!! It rocks my world harder than my c-ck will ever be!

anonymous 5/1/2009 4:22:23 AM

Their best and most cohesive record. I was really surprised because Blood Mountain was a big let down.

duggar family_ 5/1/2009 4:53:32 AM

i honestly thought this album was way "easier" than the rest of their catalogue. it has hooks and choruses and lots more clean vocals.

anonymous 5/1/2009 6:11:29 AM

review made no sense at all. 9/10 but they got bashed almost the whole review and the only thing that saved it is the last song? f*ck off.

arty_mcfarty_ 5/1/2009 6:14:15 AM

i haven't even read the review yet, but thank you so much for not letting cory do this

bitterlowz_ 5/1/2009 8:53:47 AM

I love this album. i love all their albums but for some reason this one just offers amazing music. it does take a few listens and i do wish there more heavier parts but that really doesn't matter.

guitarist_ 5/1/2009 9:35:06 AM

this is the way heavy music should evolve, it is the album I wish I could make, awesome band I dig the "neo-grunge" thing, pretty sure it is the next "thing"

cantfakethepunk_ 5/1/2009 10:31:17 AM

i take all the dcks

Brett__ 5/1/2009 10:44:26 AM

9/10 for sure. The title track is the jam.

hhxbe_ 5/1/2009 10:52:20 AM

i'm a fan of all their releases but on this one i miss the heavy

f28rank_ 5/1/2009 11:24:57 AM

casey really thinks this is a complicated album.

jackmeoffharderretard_ 5/1/2009 1:05:01 PM

remember when the singer of this band got murked up by a skinny buttmunch in system of a down. that shit is crazy dude. he has f*cking face tattoos youd think he was a little tougher.

cookiecrusher_ 5/1/2009 1:06:17 PM

i heard the drummer drinks beers out of his butt. rules!

perla _ 5/1/2009 2:23:08 PM

This album makes me stuff in my pants.

tiger_ 5/1/2009 2:31:42 PM

agreed. good record. again.

xcorruptx_ 5/1/2009 2:44:14 PM

Don't forget this is their "Air" record, so of course it's more ethereal and less heavy. But it still slays and it plays through w/o any of the studio excess that Blood Mountain had. Seeing them play this whole record live two days ago was incredible. Even Brann does vocals on the new songs. 10/10

arty_mcfarty_ 5/1/2009 4:39:12 PM

aethyr, not

the_smile_that_kills_ 5/1/2009 5:34:05 PM

great choice of producer.

anonymous 5/1/2009 6:37:45 PM

WOW! Totally surprised Lambgoat didn't smash this. Great album. f*ck you.

Andrew_ 5/1/2009 6:41:53 PM

9 out of 10 What!!! 10 out of 10 is more like it 2009's best release hands down

KHANN_ 5/2/2009 8:53:09 AM


drewcifer_ 5/2/2009 3:11:25 PM

Excellent review, I don't care about mastodon or any of it but the quality of the writing made me actually read it

badaxe_ 5/2/2009 5:46:12 PM

I agree 100% with the rating, but I'm quite ambivalent about the review. Either way, saw them on the 30th. They are truly a well-oiled machine now.

syrnfv_ 5/3/2009 11:35:22 AM

Shit review for a shit album. Fitting.

apehead_ 5/4/2009 12:07:33 PM

questionable vocals? wanking? arrangements.....haphazard? other passages....a little forced? though i agree with the rating and the whole giving it a few listens thing, what the hell album was this dude listening to? very cohesive effort. amazing album starts to finish. it plays like a good book reads. i too saw them on the 30th. i saw badaxe there....he's pretty gay.

a_dot_gain_dinner_ 5/4/2009 8:10:26 PM

"Mastodon continue to employ those questionable vocals some many derisively label neo-grunge or worse, nu-metal" haha wow. grow up. haha

uhhh_ 5/5/2009 2:34:25 PM

Great band. Great album. Great review.

Henrock_ 5/5/2009 11:06:54 PM

thought this album was a 9 when i got it a month ago but it does not have quite the replay value that i thought it would. Definitely a high 8 though

Idaho_ 5/6/2009 3:07:44 PM

This album was done way better a couple years ago by Into Eternity.

badaxe_ 5/6/2009 3:21:19 PM

"This album was done way better a couple years ago by Into Eternity." So what instrument do you play in the band?

Idaho _ 5/6/2009 7:50:30 PM

nah....i just suck dcks in the band.

badaxe_ 5/6/2009 10:31:09 PM


LFW_ 5/7/2009 3:58:32 AM

You all have way too much time on your hands.....if you like it, listen to it. If you don't, quit wasting your time. Love the album, by the way.

a_dot_gain_dinner_ 5/8/2009 7:10:41 PM

poop boners.

DaveClinch_ 5/8/2009 10:39:03 PM

Love this album and I totally agree with this review.

Brandan Schieppati_ 5/23/2009 9:29:40 PM

Peep my new thrash band...we sound like ATG. Word!

Frank_ 6/3/2009 12:52:23 AM

Brent's vocals on "Oblivion" slay.

anonymous 7/20/2009 2:48:03 AM

Could have summed it up by saying "Amazing album, but everything is terrible besides the last song." Awful review, incredible album.

anonymous 2/19/2010 6:29:08 AM

prog aspects are total shit, however there are good parts. if you're looking for prog, find a f*cking prog band

awakener_ 1/25/2011 7:50:42 PM

Wow! I finally came across a review I agree with on this site. I was starting to get very dissapointed with this site. The reviews suck and are way off and are very biased, and obviously biased which makes things even worse.