For Fans Of
Common sense and financial viability would suggest that an act such as Mastodon couldn’t possibly make it in the world of major-label politics, yet the band’s Reprise Records debut (Blood Mountain) succeeded where many contemporary metal acts had failed by impressing both the group’s old fans and the notoriously hard-to-please critics, as well as a vast array of newcomers.
Given the band’s previous triumphs, it would’ve been incredibly easy to replicate their past material in an effort to maintain their existing level of popularity, however Crack The Skye is yet another fresh and original take on the Mastodon sound, one that continues to defy convention and will no doubt inspire a whole new batch of imitators just as their earlier records did.
After the haunting introductory passage of “Oblivion” is completed, the trademark riffing of Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher kicks into full gear, with drummer extraordinaire Brann Dailor not only contributing an impressive flurry of beats, but a stellar vocal performance as well! Mastodon has always had a healthy injection of melody throughout their intricate compositions, however the inclusion of fully-fledged choruses should once and for all silence the skeptics who claim that the band is lacking a vocal identity.
“Divinations” is a more aggressive beast than the album opener, yet it still manages to incorporate another catchy passage of singing amongst the furious instrumentation, while “Quintessence” sees the band at their progressive best, courtesy of the smooth transitions between the complex and atmospheric guitar work right through to the more straight-forward rock n roll moments that rear their head throughout the song.
Traces of Black Sabbath (particularly the Ozzy-esque choruses) can be found all over “The Czar”, a track that spends close to eleven-minutes walking the listener through a variety of musical tangents, the bluesy guitar solo at the eight-minute mark proving to be one Crack The Skye’s highlights. Although “Ghost Of Varelia” clocks in at half the length of the previous number it packs just as much punch during its five-minutes, as does the album’s stunning title-track, which has the honour of being the third Mastodon track (in as many records) to feature the vocal talents of Neurosis’ Scott Kelly. Trying to review the record’s closing track – “The Last Baron” – seems a tad pointless when the song contains as much quality musicianship as many band’s entire catalogues, so it’s probably best just to say that it’s everything you’ve come to love and respect from Mastodon.
For a modern metal band to produce a record this complex and STILL be able to satisfy its vast fan base is a true testament to just how amazing Mastodon truly are. A must have for any heavy music fan.
4) The Czar: I. Usurper – II. Escape – III. Martyr – IV: Spiral
5) Ghost Of Karelia
6) Crack The Skye
7) The Last Baron