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Mastodon - Crack The Skye (CD)

Crack The Skye
by Mike Novak at 08 April 2009, 9:38 AM

Every once in a while an album comes along where the listener knows right away that it is amazing, but knows that it will take many listens to truly behold what the album has to offer. That was the case with MASTODON's new album, entitled Crack The Skye. I have been listening to this album constantly for several weeks now and am still am discovering new things.

MASTODON was formed in 1999 in Atlanta, Georgia, after the members met at a HIGH ON FIRE concert. Crack The Skye is the band's fourth album. Their previous album, Blood Mountain achieved world-wide recognition for the band and broke the Top 40 chart in America. Crack The Skye has been even more successful, just missing the Top 10 by charting at number 11 in its first week.

Many people, including me, had alarm bells going off in our heads when we heard that the band was going in a decidedly less metallic direction and had hired Brendan O'Brien to produce the album. While O'Brien had produced AC/DC before, he is more known as producer of the likes of PEARL JAM and Bruce Springsteen. Even though I did not consider myself a huge MASTODON fan, I rather enjoyed parts of Blood Mountain and was at least mildly interested in what the band had to offer.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected what my ears heard the first time I listened to Crack The Skye. Right off the bat, the listener is treated to one of MASTODON's most accessible tracks ever, with Oblivion. The band proves that a song can still be accessible without sacrificing quality. The chorus stayed in my head for days afterward and this is easily among MASTODON's best songs.

The band truly reaches its pinnacle, however, during the first epic of the album, simply entitled The Czar. Clocking in at almost eleven minutes, the band shows that they have a talent that few other bands have, and that's the ability to write an epic song that is interesting all the way through. I never thought that MASTODON would be able to top Sleeping Giant off of their previous album, but here we truly have a song that is better than many bands can ever hope to achieve in their careers.

I think a lot of credit has to go to producer Brendan O'Brien. He has always had a knack for helping bands write strong choruses and experimenting with harmonies and vocal patterns. Some of MASTODON's previous choruses were rather awkward, here they are able to be catchy without sacrificing their sound. He really adds this impeccable yet unique style of melodies that works really well with the band's writing method. Also he has fortunately gotten rid of all the screaming and yelling from the previous albums. Thankfully guitar solos were included in every song, which is a definite benefit. Also, a lot of fat has been trimmed (which is funny in light of the two epics); many songs on Blood Mountain suffered from parts that were wankery and did not fit with the rest of the song (Capillarian Crest anyone?). Even though these parts were weird and sometimes enjoyable, they ruined the flow of both the songs and the album.

I could go on and on about how great this album is, but then you'd be wasting your time reading this review instead of listening to Crack The Skye. This album is not only consistent, but damn near perfect throughout. Fans of MASTODON's older material will still be satisfied, yet this will definitely win over many fans who despised the band's earlier material. I know I've already turned two friends who hated the band onto this album, and they can't stop listening. This is an early candidate for album of the year and I expect it to still be there by time December rolls around.


4 Star Rating

The Czar
Ghost Of Karelia
Crack The Skye
The Last Baron
Troy Sanders - Bass, Vocals, Bass Synth
Brent Hinds - Lead Guitar, Vocals, Banjo
Bill Kelliher - Guitar
Brann Dailor - Drums, Vocals, Percussion
Record Label: Reprise Records


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