Mastodon/Crack The Skye

Crack The Skye is the 4th studio release from American Progressive Metal Band Mastodon. Released in March 2009, the CD landed in dozens of top releases of 2009 lists. This release is also the bands best-selling CD, moving about 500,000 units in the US. Crack The Skye is yet another odd conceptual release that evolves as it progresses. The ‘story’ is centered around a paraplegic youth who can travel astrally! The story is of his getting lost in this continuum and landing in Hell…..or something like that. I never buy into the concept thing….just give me some great music and I am happy and fulfilled.

Oblivion—-With a ‘clearer’ sound than in the past, the song builds and builds….the drums creating room for new instruments to join the fray…what you end up with is an almost orchestration that suddenly dives into an almost Black Sabbath dirge. This is nice…the melodies are great and they do not end with the voice…the instruments are layered and monstrous. This is fantastic!!!! Bravo!!!! 4 Stars!!!!

Divinations—-Beginning with what sounds like a banjo, the song comes to life and proceeds to kick your ass with some really great progressive guitar riffs. The voice is maniacal and damn pleasant….the whole concept has not appeared for me….the one thing that is obvious is that these guys can rock pretty hard while still maintaining a certain mainstream appeal. When these riffs go crazy, your jaw will hit the ground.

Quintessence—-Almost seamlessly emerging from the previous track, the mood of the song is shifted by the real movement of the music. The drums are prevalent and begin to lead the track from the end fog of the other. The voice sounds driven and almost possessed. there seems to be true emotion in every word that is sung….This is an awesome underrated band. The music emerges better and better with each release.

The Czar: Usurper/Escape/Martyr/Spiral—-This 11 minute track begins with an almost cold underwater feel….the tones seem to be somewhat Electronic and the mood hangs heavy…the guitars swim through the cold….building and building until they break through the ice with a great gulp of air. The mood shifts of the song stay true to the predictable sounds of the band that we rely on…this is not so much new, but a continued journey in metal movements…sit through it, you will be better in the end.

Ghost Of Karelia—-A nice cymbal intro as the song takes shape almost immediately. This is nice and electric, although the bass line remains prominent throughout. the voice is great….coming in and out…I try to imagine what these recording sessions are like!?! It all seems like it must be a huge trippy haze of jams and perfections. This is great…it fits very nicely in with the flow of this release…part of the concept thing I would imagine…LOL!!!

Crack The Skye—-Coming across with a much more mainstream sound, the band seems to have layers and layers to its sound…you wonder how this all plays live. This is rich…the sound is peak optimum. The vocal is outstanding…a nice melody/harmony thing that makes this the most accessible song on this release for me. This is wonderfully rich in tone….the guitars soar and the drums are present but never overbearing…masterful!!! This song is GENIUS!!!

The Last Baron—-This nearly 14 minute opus, presumably, ties up the whole story. Seemingly to magically keep the vibe from the previous track, the song soars on at a wonderfully progressive pace. The band sounds awesome…the guitars are light and airy while the bass line drives the track for this ‘act’…..the song goes through some nice shifts and swings, but keeps the melodic bass line in tact  for most of the song. The chapters unfold with different cameos from different instruments, but magically the song is kept intact. These dudes are a bunch of brainiacs!!!!

**** out of 5


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