The big hairy beast from Georgia charges at full-speed.
Mastodon have done it again. The Atlanta boys were already on top of the metal world with 2004’s astonishing Leviathan, followed by 2006’s ridiculously awesome Blood Mountain. Their much-awaited follow-up Crack the Skye is equally breath-taking, but it also takes their brand of prog-metal to a new and fascinating place.
With over fifty minutes of music packed into seven songs, each song on Skye is a voyage. Just as Leviathan was a rock record based on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, this album takes a thematic route again by drawing upon czarist Russia. The figures in the cover even look like Rasputins of sorts, spewing light from their mouths while book-ending a giant bear. While some might call the group genre-bending or attach prefixes like math, alt, post or prog, there’s no denying their metallic nature: Churning guitars, punishing drums, a head-banging pace, shredding solos and the occasional death howl.
“Divinations” is one of the finest tracks. It starts with a simple banjo part but the thrash comes in soon enough. They achieve some of their most melodic and ambitious moments on tracks like this one, “The Czar,” and “The Last Baron.” Not only are these songs meticulously crafted but they bring to mind some of the best metal of the past: early Sabbath, pre-lame Metallica and Neurosis. In fact, Neurosis’ Scott Kelly lends vocal support on the title track and it’s that much better for it. On tracks like “The Czar” and “The Last Baron,” they push past the ten-minute mark and for one song, you don’t really notice how long each is. You just lose yourself in the endless tempo switches, guitar layers and drumming. Where previous records consisted of shorter heavier tracks, these songs really wander and progress. The metal is still heavy here, but it’s that much heavier when it’s couched by spacey melodies with the occasional help of some keys.
Mastodon breathes new life into an often tired genre.. These tattooed stoners from Georgia have won the hearts of snobby music critics, die-hard metal heads and even non-metal rock enthusiasts. There’s no denying talent and originality – Mastodon’s got it in spades.