MASTODON – Crack The Skye (2009)

Mastodon - Crack The Skye Is 2009 the year that the prog-feigning bands finally surrender completely to their impulses? Well, based upon The Decemberists’ The Hazards of Love and now Crack The Skye, I’d say so. Coming off of Blood Mountain (an album which had a hefty amount of prog leanings to it, and featured The Mars Volta’s Cedric Bixler Zavala on one of its songs for anyone who did not believe that this was so), Mastodon’s new-found populist success afforded them the opportunity to do pretty much whatever they wanted. What they did was release Crack The Skye, an album that sounds absolutely nothing like any of their previous work. And damn it all, if it doesn’t turn out to be one hell of a ride.

Crack The Skye sounds a bit like Neurosis, Porcupine Tree and Iced Earth fighting. But not brawling. Not like, smashing bar stools over each other’s heads or anything like that. No, it sounds more like they’re…fencing. Or participating in some other elegant combat sport where the chase is all. Parts of this album are so chock full of prog metal goodness that I had to do a double take and make sure my media player wasn’t skipping around on me. There’s an interlude in the middle of The Baron that sounds as if it fell out of a Liquid Tension Experiment album. The driving melody of Ghost of Karelia is reminiscent of Evergrey and the spirit of Rush (and their tendency of transmitting rock and roll via heady, angular rhythms) shows up on more than one occasion here.

Still, despite the album’s commitment to warping your mind musically at every turn, I wouldn’t call Crack The Skye Mastodon’s masterpiece. At the end of the day, it’s a little too smart and dexterous for its own good, and it lacks the emotional resonance of their earlier work ; there’s no gut-stirring glory of whale chasing or beast riding to be found here. And I think that that fervent euphoria is an integral part of what makes Mastodon work. On The Decemberists’ The Hazards of Love, for example, the band retain the most significant aspect of their music (their hyper-literate storytelling) and extend it across an album that’s as musically progressive as it’s narrative is structured. Crack The Skye, on the other hand, is strictly a left-brain workout. But it also happens to be the Mastodon album you didn’t know you were waiting for. And that’s going to be plenty for a lot of people and not nearly enough for others.

Which one will you be? Depends. How much do you know about Pineapple Thief?

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2 Responses to “MASTODON – Crack The Skye (2009)”

  1. […] an album is saying in order for it to be moving and emotionally resonant (see: The Decemberists and Mastodon). That being said, VS. Children resides in a curious musical vortex, wherein too much of the […]

  2. […] – Snakes For The Divine (2010) If there’s one band who might be able to rival Mastodon for sheer, back-to-basics heavy metal mass appeal, it’s High On Fire. Like Mastodon (or […]

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