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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece
The trend from Leviathan and Blood Mountain is for the music to be evolving every time. Each album gets richer, bigger sounding and dare I say it for some Metal fans more melodic. Crack the Skye follows the trend perfectly. Its still got a hardcore heart, but anyone focussing on that element is missing the point. Mastodon are about the music and not the label. For me this...
Published on 1 April 2009 by Kikbox

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok but disappointing...[SEE EDIT THOUGH]
I'm afraid I'm also going to have to agree with those who find "Crack The Skye" a little disappointing. It just seems that on first listen there was nothing that jumped out to me - after a few more listens I started to appreciate "Oblivion" and the "Escape" part of "The Czar" but everything else merges into a bit of a prog-mess. Not that I don't like progressive music, it...
Published on 8 July 2009 by Tom


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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, 1 April 2009
By 
This review is from: Crack the Skye (Audio CD)
The trend from Leviathan and Blood Mountain is for the music to be evolving every time. Each album gets richer, bigger sounding and dare I say it for some Metal fans more melodic. Crack the Skye follows the trend perfectly. Its still got a hardcore heart, but anyone focussing on that element is missing the point. Mastodon are about the music and not the label. For me this album is grown up metal. Sometimes the harder the music the less the affect. You need the light to appreciate the dark. This album has both in spades. Every listen I can't help but be impressed with the sheer talent of the musicianship and vision and scope of the sound. The sound quality is awesome, some really great production on this album, as with their last two. This album should go down as an all time great.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mastodon Evolving, 18 April 2009
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Mr. R. Powell (Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Crack the Skye (Audio CD)
I recently had the opportunity to listen to all 4 Mastodon albums in order on a long car journey and it made for interesting listening. You can hear the bands sound evolving. The first album is raw in your face metal, interesting but not for the squeemish. By the time you get to this album the sound has become more commercial (For want of a better word). That is not to say it is commercial, this is not the Black album and won't appeal to non fans of heavy music. And that is not a bad thing, this is still very much Mastodon. It takes a few more listens to get into this album than the previous albums, but it is definitely worth the effort. It is an excellent album but I can't see it breaking them into the really big time, but that's fine they have managed to evolve without sacrificing that essential Mastodon sound. Recommended!!
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How do they keep doing it, 24 Mar. 2009
By 
Kingcrimsonprog "Kingcrimsonprog" (England) - See all my reviews
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I don't know how Mastodon do it, but once again they've managed to release an album that tops their previous effort as career highlight; Mastodon just keep getting better and better. Crack The Skye takes the ball 'Blood Mountain,' brought and runs with it, The music is even more progressive, even more virtuosic and the material is even more dense.

Somehow Mastodon have also simultaneously reinvented themselves and stayed true to their trademark sound at the same time. The jangly, awkward riffs are the same and the complex jazzy drumming is the same, but the music has a fresh, cleaner and at first glance more 'listenable,' air to it; in addition to this the production is amazing, the artwork is in keeping with the tone of all Mastodon artwork to date and once again the album is a concept album. No doubt a few fans in Remission T-shirts will still label this album as a sell out despite the fact that this is Mastodon's least commercial offering to date due to the length, density and originality of the music.

Fans of the direction Mastodon started to take with Leviathan and especially with Blood Mountain will welcome Crack The Skye as the next logical step; praising the numerous guitar solos, haunting clean vocals and entertaining lyrics. Everything you'd expect in terms of passion and performance is represented here and represented in stronger doses than ever before. The album is bursting with new ideas, with exciting bass lines, complicated time shifts and yet all the force you'd expect from the band who wrote Remission.

If you have an open mind there is a hell of a lot to enjoy here, such as the new Keys and synths, along with longer songs and cleaner vocals (plus more vocalists) that add whole new dimensions to the sound that Mastodon previously only hinted at in songs like 'Ol Nessie,' and 'Sleeping Giant.'

Some may be surprised to find that in addition to the amazing Troy and the aggressive Brent, Brann Dailor appears to be lending his vocal talents to the album. Additionally, many fans will welcome Scott Kelly back for yet another wonderful guest vocal appearance.

There is little point in naming standout tracks as the entire album is the best thing the band have ever done, but if I was forced to pick a favorite I'd pick 'The Czar,' which is probably the coolest song you'll hear all year, that or 'The Last Baron,' which has some beautiful acoustic moments, some lead epic guitar moments and an awesome section that seems like a cheeky tribute to '21st Century Schizoid Man,' over all the song is like a bizarre cross between 'Trampled Under Hoof,' with 'This Mortal Soil,' and the drumming is just so impressive.

Overall; Although at first the album may seem like a departure, repeat listens will reveal moments that could fit at the end of 'Hearts Alive,' or fit into the middle of 'Mother Puncher.' In fact the first single 'Divinations,' sounds like it could fit well on the Blood Mountain album. The most important thing however, is the sheer quality of music, I really can't recommend this album highly enough, to fans of metal, to fans of prog or just to anyone with an open mind.

***This edition comes surprisingly with no slipcase but does have a gold coloured spine to match up with the rest of the Mastodon spines. Most importantly it comes with a hour and a half long making of DVD which is very entertaining and informative, which sheds lights on the writing process as well as the recording process and contains interviews with all band members and the new Keys player Richard Morris. Well worth the money to see the down to earth guys talk about their career, the new album and how it was made.***
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mastodon deliver most mature album to date in "Crack the Skye" and show you how it was made in this Special Edition., 10 Oct. 2009
By 
D. Johnston "DMJ" (Liverpool, UK.) - See all my reviews
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Firstly, I love Mastodon. So I am likely to enjoy this album and behind the scenes DVD. But even I was surprised at how often I am listening to, humming or thinking about this album, and re-watching the DVD.

If you are a fan, the development of this band's sound and approach to making songs continues to delight. They have moved along a path that manages to maintain their trademark complexity and ferocity, whilst continuing to pitch musical curveballs of melody and, at times, beauty. We now have a number of distinct voices, tighter production with improved recording and some tasteful keyboard work that provides atmosphere and colour to proceedings. This album, more than its predecessors, truly befits the term "progressive metal". For more info see the other reviews of the CD.

The DVD that ships with this Special Edition is one of the best I have seen. I am always fascinated by the different processes that musicians use to produce their music, and realise their creativity. Through the DVD we are told the story of the writing, rehearsal and recording stages of Crack the Skye. Along the way we see footage recording the artists adding guitars, vocals and drums to tracks on the album - we get a real feel for just how good these guys are at what they do.

The thing that makes this "Making of the album" DVD one of my favourites is that the guys are interviewed or filmed separately in such a way as the differing personalities and approaches to making music become evident. This in itself points to why Mastodon's output over the years has been so eclectic and varied. If you are in any way interested in how these guys collectively arrive at a point of agreement for the arrangements of their songs, and fancy a look at the guys off stage wielding their craft, then get this DVD - you will find it enjoyable and informative.
Crack the Skye [Special Edition]
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok but disappointing...[SEE EDIT THOUGH], 8 July 2009
By 
I'm afraid I'm also going to have to agree with those who find "Crack The Skye" a little disappointing. It just seems that on first listen there was nothing that jumped out to me - after a few more listens I started to appreciate "Oblivion" and the "Escape" part of "The Czar" but everything else merges into a bit of a prog-mess. Not that I don't like progressive music, it just seems that Mastodon have tried too hard to create a prog album and not just stuck to what they do best - beastly riffs, hard rocking tunes with the occasional (don't get me wrong - fantastic) daliance into experimentation.

One doesn't need to watch the special edition DVD to realise they were heavily influenced by 70s prog-rock/metal (where they openly refer to such inspiration) when making this album - there are some overt (almost plaigarised) moments of Black Sabbath and even on the DVD Mastodon openly call the main riff in "Escape" as being the 'Randy-riff' (or something like that) as it is only a few notes different from the opening riff to "Crazy Train".

There just doesn't seem to be any of the devastating riffs like as heard in most of Leviathon (e.g. end of "Seabeast", middle section of "Megalodon", main riff of "Iron Tusk" etc...), there doesn't seem to be any of the all out rocking like in "The Wolf is Loose", "Blood and Thunder" and "Crystal Skull", and there seems to be too much non-descript prog that goes nowhere unlike the genius of previous tunes such as "Sleeping Giant", "Naked Burn" and "This mortal soil".

Having said all that I do enjoy the album but (in my opinion) it is nowhere near the brilliance of Leviathon or Blood Mountain. The DVD on the special edition is really good actually - great to see how the album was made and to see the personalities of the band members. They talk through the making of each individual song which is really interesting and I did find myself wanting to change my opinion of the album after hearing them speak with such enthusiasm about their new material. Another last good point to finish on is that Brann Dailor sings a bit and sounds great - very impressive when he's playing such quality drums (but again not quite as interesting to listen to as on their previous 2 albums).

Anyway, enough - album: 3 stars, DVD: 4 stars.

EDIT - after feeding off this album for the past year or so I've now realised its brilliance and completely accept that I was (partly) wrong initially. I still stand by the fact that it's not as "hard-rocking" as much as the previous two efforts but damn is it a good album. The progginess of it has grown on me and time has really shown me the quality and depth to the individual tracks but also how much they make up a piece of music that is greater than the sum of it's parts (sorry I know that sounds very pretentious but I really do think it!). My favourites now are the last 3 tracks ("Ghost of Karelia", "Crack the Skye" and "The Last Baron") - all monsters of prog-hard rock/metal. Definitely worth a listen if you're into early Mastodon or into any sort of prog at all.

Get it. 4 stars (at least)

T...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece, 2 April 2009
By 
There has always been something that set Mastodon apart from the rest of the Metal crowd- much in the same way as Opeth. Some would put that down to the fact that both bands have acquired a 'Prog' label. But it is much more that. It's pure, honest, creative freedom. And with Crack The Skye, Mastodon have created a masterpiece. Simple as that.

When I first heard the Divinations single, I was reminded of moments on their last release Blood Mountain, and I wasn't sure what to expect of the album. But after the first track Oblivion, I felt a tingling in my spine that albums rarely seem to do these days. First thing, the production is top notch. I'd go as far as to say flawless. Then the musicianship. It is beyond belief. I have always had much respect for Troy (Bass/Vocals), Brent (Guitars/Vocals), Bill (Guitars) and Bran (Drums), but this time they have surpassed themselves. While not as showman-like as previous albums, it's their element of control, knowing where and when to shine that really stands them out as some of today's most brilliant musicians. The guitar solos are particularly beautiful- melodic, heart felt and soulful.

But before you Metallers say 'so it's not heavy then', this album IS heavy. Not in the traditional sense of the word but in atmosphere. The heavy use of clean vocals really makes this a very dark album. But instantly catchy, accessible and thought provoking all at once. Without being commercial at all!

The epic The Czar in particular, with it's four part story, ebbs and flows between haunting clean sections and big heavy riff-laden grooves that get your head banging in true Mastodon fashion.

But what really stands out about Crack The Skye is the song craft. The lyrics are fantastic, and every riff, chord, beat and bassline sounds like it was meant to be there. Nothing is out of place at all.

What's interesting is that a lot of the album was written by guitarist Brent Hinds whilst recovering from illness. He was forced to chill out and picked up his acoustic guitar. When the band got together again to start writing, the combination of Brent's epic rock licks and Bill's fierce and fast metal chops have created what will go down as a rock masterpiece! It's becoming a cliché to say 'How can Mastodon top this album?' but with every album they do!

I'm on my umpteenth listen and still haven't got bored one iota! I cannot recommend this album enough!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving, musical masterpiece, 7 April 2009
By 
Matt Pucci "mattpucci.com" (Here, there and everywhere) - See all my reviews
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Crack the Skye is Mastodon's fifth album and musically it picks up where the highly acclaimed Blood Mountain (2006) left off. Once again we are served with an abundance of dazzling, technical playing and mind-boggling lyrical concepts, but this time the band also succeed in capturing a degree of emotion hitherto unheard on a Mastodon record.

The writing of this record was informed by some troubled times for all four members of Mastodon, and the title itself was conceived in homage to Brann Dailor's sister, who tragically died at the age of 14. It also ties in themes of astral travel and Tsarist Russia. As you would expect from an album of such poignancy and scope, Crack the Skye is not an easy record to get your head round, perhaps even for long-time Mastodon fans who are used to unexpected left turns and constant progression - often within the space of a single track. Only opener 'Oblivion' - a fairly straightforward verse-chorus, verse-chorus track - is what you might call 'catchy' and yet it still manages to be unfathomably affecting. The album's first single, 'Divinations', meanwhile, is instantly recognisable as a Mastodon track - all chaotic time-signatures and Dailor's awesome drumming. However, almost all subsequent tracks include more measured, restrained passages, coupled with greater subtleties than before. The opening notes of 'The Czar', for example, are exquisitely haunting, while the title-track features long-time Mastodon collaborator Scott Kelly of Neurosis, to superb effect.

Ultimately, this is prog rock at its finest; it's also a thoroughly modern and vital-sounding record that deserves your attention. Yes, it will take repeated listens to fully appreciate, but I for one am certain I'll be listening to this for many, many years to come.

The DVD too is something of a revelation, giving you an intimate insight into the making of the album, the inspiration for the title and the story behind the album's concept as well as the requisite clips of the band playing live (including a devastating 'Blood and Thunder') and generally goofing around. Watching it makes you appreciate the album to an even greater degree and realise both what a cool bunch of guys these are and how much of a great band they are. Well worth the extra couple of quid.

Matt Pucci
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars album of the year, 7 May 2009
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sean paul mccann "mccanns23" (ireland) - See all my reviews
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Mastodons fourth album was certainly a bold move in terms of direction,the harsh like vocals have all but gone and been replaced with more subtle and trancy vocals,clean for sure but a fine match for the more prog like sound.
People will ask if the album is heavy,it certainly is but it is an album that is really focused on letting the songs breathe and settle before shifting gears and hurtling down a different avenue,i guess thats what prog music does and mastodon tip their hat to the greats that helped shape this album,it is in my humble opinion though that few have ever released an album this good in the genre because this album will last the test of time and with a smaller compliment this will be the album of 2009 in my opinion.
The band have seldom sounded as vital,their previous albums while all great have never captured the flow that this album displays,the band have turned all the more epic and killed all doubts with that,the album closer 'the last baron' is a 13 minute masterpiece putting more qualified bands like isis to shame with its attention to detail and its flair to make you listen,scott kelly pops up again on the track 'crack the skye' and barks his way through a song thats incredibly laid back and trippy and sublime,the powers that be are now on course to take over,mastodon had their fans,but this will make new ones,fittingly few have called them sell outs,thats the nature of mastodon,they keep knocking them down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Prog Metal Classic, 24 Nov. 2009
By 
This review is from: Crack the Skye (Audio CD)
I'm not writing a long in-depth review, just giving a brief thought and rating. It seems that the fans that don't like this album are those that want mostly heavy, aggressive music, like mastodon's earlier stuff. However this album, I think, continues mastodon's evolution throughout their albums by having more prog, cleaner and varied vocals and wider dynamics during songs, I'd say it's style was a mix between 'This Mortal Soil' and 'Capillarian Crest' from Blood Mountain. If, like me, you love prog metal/rock and bands such as Tool, Opeth, the Mars Volta, than you'll love this album. It took me a few listens to appreciate all the songs (Initial standout tracks are Oblivion, The Czar and The Last Baron, the later two being prog rock masterpieces), as at first it seemed as if most of the songs are hard to identify from one another, but after more listens you learn all the different parts' places within the tracks. There's so much depth to this album it will take a long time to get bored of it (unless you've already decided you don't like it).
In a nut shell if you're after consistently heavy, aggressive music, then this may not be your cup of tea, but if you love varied, interesting, prog rock/metal then buy this now.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars METALLIC MASTERPIECE, 11 Oct. 2009
By 
M. A. Kelly "Wild eyed loner on the edge of o... (Milton Keynes Centre of the Universe) - See all my reviews
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Coming late to Mastodon I bought this CD having read a review in Classic Rock which mentioned it's Prog-like leanings.
Imagine if you will, a parallel rock universe where Neal Peart of Rush , joins with Murray and Smith of early Iron Maiden , who subsequently invite Ozzy to sing for them on a collection of Metallica curiosities.
I think that's all bases covered!

The Album tells the story of someone who whilst astral projecting , loses track of their Spirit when it is tempted back to earth by Rasputin in Tzarist Russia.

High concept stuff for sure.

As a (dreadful) guitarist myself, I'm awestruck by the incrdible twin lead guitar soundscapes and entralled by the powerful rhythm playing too, the drumming is everything one could wish for in a rock drummer and the vocals from all band members superb.

Album of the year by a band miles ahead of thier peers - Metallica ought to bow their heads in shame compared to this.

Top notch stuff!
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