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MASTODON – Crack The Skye

  • Review by: Madhav R
Fire. Water. Earth. Air. Atlanta based progressive metal band Mastodon have finally completed their cycle of albums connected to the elements with their fourth studio venture, Crack The Skye. Produced by Brendan O’ Brien (AudioSlave, Pearl Jam, AC/DC), this is a tribute to Skye Dailor, drummer Brann Dailor’s sister who committed suicide at the age of 14. “I can see the pain”, sings Troy Sanders in the title track, “It’s written all over your face…” Dailor was quoted saying “For me personally, it means the moment of being told you lost someone dear to you, [that moment] is enough to crack the sky.”

Musically, this album is very different from any of the band’s previous works. A chilled out maniacal frenzy of sounds, with intricate guitar arrangements and shifting polyrhythmic drumming in a subtle undertow, embraced by choral harmonies and dream-like synth sequences. The solos are massively classic rock influenced, embracing hints of country and blues, with lyrical themes varying from astral travel to Tsarist Russia, Rasputin to cosmic wormholes, and yet, it all fits perfectly in the grand mad scheme of things. Like a huge musical jigsaw magically falling in place.

The album starts rolling with Oblivion, drummer Brann Dailor on vocals during the intro and chorus. A great opening track; starts strong and sets the tone for the rest of the record. Oblivion leads on to Divinations, followed by Quintessence, in which Troy Sanders sings, “Let it go, let it go…” Let go of what, you wonder? Let go of the pain and the sorrow? Or of power and control, let it go and fly away into the Skye? The song is laced with guitar arpeggios over crazy Brann Dailor’s signature style drumming, with psychedelic synth effects and powerful vocals, all of which drowns you in a veritable maelstrom of emotions. The Czar, an epic in 4 parts, clocking 10:54 minutes comes next. Crushing solos with melodic bridges makes this the most defining track of the album. The Ghost Of Kareila, song number 5 gives us the Mastodon we all love. Double bass pounding and a clash of guitars as the impending doom looms closer. Leviathan and Blood Mountain revisited! I don’t think Mastodon can ever stray away from this. Crack The Skye, the title song comes 30:32 minutes since the opening strains of Oblivion. This song features Scott Kelly of Neurosis continuing his guest musician relationship with the band by handling the vocal duties on this track. This juggernaut of an album ends with The Last Baron. A metal monster twisting around your ears. Frantic drumming with vocal lines beckoning the end of the world. Multiple guitar onslaughts, the Skye cracks and suddenly, it’s over…

But then you think. Is this what you actually wanted from Mastodon?