Review of Mastodon's album 'Crack The Skye' released through Warner Bros.
Even the most ardent Mastodon fan must have reacted with apprehension and perhaps horror with the announcement prior to the release of Crack The Skye that the modern masters of metal latest full-length would be in more of a 'prog' or 'classic' vein than its predecessors. The unearthing of its tracklist; a mere seven tracks, two of which clocked over ten minutes and one which was divided into four 'suites' would have done nothing to quell the fears that the four-piece were about to embark on a sharp downward spiral.
Indeed such apprehension would be apt for mere mortals, but not for Mastodon. Here the switch from crushing three-minute blasts of insanity to passages of controlled rancor is made without a loss of quality or direction. In fact, in all honesty there is not that much at root which has changed. The vocals of Troy Sanders and Brent Hinds may not rasp as much as they did on Leviathan or Remission but they search just as far, and the mind numbing riffs that built their previous works are just as visceral and unmissable here.
Single 'Divinations' is an early highlight, purely because it burns at a (slightly) higher tempo and it is also the shortest cut at just over three and a half minutes but longer efforts, particularly the aforementioned 'The Czar', soon reveal their primordial beauty. Here, at the mid-point of the album, Mastodon unleash their ultimate calling card; a perfect combination of the finger-splitting guitar work, unearthly drumming and mythical storytelling that has firmly positioned them as THE best band in metal today.
At fifty-minutes Crack The Skye offers a myriad of ideas and plenty of room to breathe without that same room stretching out into nothingness and resulting in endless repetition. It very well could be their best release to date, and despite admitted prog learnings it is without a doubt the most relevant metal album to be released in 2009. Who is man to doubt Mastodon?
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