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Crack the Skye (CD & DVD)

4.7 out of 5 stars 227 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Deluxe Edition contains a bonus DVD featuring the making of Crack The Skye. Mastodon has taken hold of the leadership of the New Wave of Progressive Heavy Metal. The band's 2006 major-label debut Blood Mountain spun off a Grammy nomination and earned Top 5 Best Album Of The Year nods from Kerrang!, Revolver, and Metal Hammer, and a Top 10 at Rolling Stone. Now Crack The Skye, its fourth original studio album, mines subject matter from czarist Russia and astral travel to out-of-body experiences and Stephen Hawking's theories on wormholes for an unrepentantly heavy aural assault that will shake the heavens.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Oblivion
  2. Divinations
  3. Quintessence
  4. The Czar: I Usurper, II Escape, III Martyr, IV Spiral
  5. Ghost Of Karelia
  6. Crack The Skye
  7. The Last Baron

Disc: 2

  1. Making Of Crack The Skye (DVD)


Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 24, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Reprise Records
  • ASIN: B001R4MEYS
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (227 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,468 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Without getting into the debate as to whether Crack the Skye is Mastodon's best album to date, one would be wise to just point out its differences, both strengths and shortcomings, and leave it to the fans to do the ranking.

On first listen, Crack the Skye will immediately stand out for its easily noticeable absence of screamed vocals. Troy Sanders uses his clean voice on almost all the tunes, with very few exceptions. Without doubt, it will take some time to get used to his style, but repeat listens only serve to solidify one's opinion that the songs on this disc have been composed in such a style to sound much better with this approach. Pain-ridden vocals pop up only to provide contrast to the more melodious direction taken in spots. The chorus on "Ghost of Karelia", for instance, proves all the more powerful as the vocals shift from the mostly clean style to somewhat aggressive outbursts.

The guitar tandem of Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher lend the songs a solid, unbreakable facade, which elevates them to a whole new level. From the apocalyptic opening chords of "Oblivion", chock full of despondent riffs and rock-based guitar solos; to the calculated riffery of "Divinations", they implant dynamics to the compositions through and through. Rather than entirely focusing on heavy, punishing jackhammer riffery, this time around they also utilise progressive metal-like jam sessions and blues-inflected passages. As a result, the constant shifting of dynamics on "Quintessence" renders the tune more creative and interesting.

The ten-minute epic "The Czar" is built upon flawless songwriting and mood construction.
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Format: Audio CD
I, like many, wasn't sure what to expect from "Crack the Skye." Early reports described it as "spacey" and "creepy," with a classic rock feel, and the introduction of mainstream producer Brendan O'Brien raised further questions about the sound. Having heard the album, I can say that the change is fundamental: "Crack the Skye" is a metallic prog album, whereas Mastodon had previously been a metal band first and foremost, though one with progressive and technical tendencies. Fortunately, the album is not entirely lacking in the old Mastodon feel, with guitarwork and drumming that should be easily recognizable for any serious fan. The basic songwriting, however, is radically different. Whereas earlier works were primarily horizontal, emphasizing the progression through various sections, "Crack the Skye" is much more spacious and vertical, with densely layered arrangements of guitars (sludgy power chords, acoustic arpeggios, frantic leads often all at once) atop synths and unconventional percussion to aid the conventional rhythm section. Perhaps most significantly, the vox, originally barked and howled, are now almost entirely ethereal, gliding melodies at the center of the instrumental maelstrom. The feel is finally different: while "Blood Mountain" and "Remission" charged over the listener, "Crack the Skye" engulfs him. Because of this, nothing on "Crack the Skye" has the sheer visceral power of "Workhorse," "Blood and Thunder" or "Capillarian Crest," and those, like myself, who are primarily metal fans may not find the change totally ideal. Personally, though I can't permanently rank it after only 15 or so listens, I seriously doubt I will ever like "Crack the Skye" as much as I do their previous three albums.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
Mastodon's last album (Blood Mountain) displayed their nastiest chops ever, but got a bit showoff-ish and self-indulgent. But now Mastodon is dead serious, and Crack the Skye is no laughing matter, lyrically or musically. A convoluted lyrical concept about space travel and czarist Russia is actually a cover for Mastodon's most haunting thoughts ever, inspired by the childhood death of Brann Dailor's sister and the recent severe head injury suffered by Brent Hinds. The band's music is becoming less flashy and more dramatic, played with an epic grandeur that easily becomes bigger than the sum of its parts. The four players have surrendered to the sound, with less hot-dogging and more teamwork. Even the monstrously hyper Dailor on drums has slowed things down a bit, reminding the listener less of a speed demon and more of a coiled snake. The vocals are more in tune with the mood of the music, and this album's lyrics are surprisingly deep and introspective. Mastodon have surely become big-thinking and forward-looking pure musicians.

All of the above has given Mastodon the biggest and most compelling sound in modern metal, and this album is sonically imposing and unforgiving from the first note. They even make a banjo sound ominous at the beginning of "Divinations." Epic grooves and jarring time shifts add to the success of the rifftastic "Quintessence" and the especially disturbing "Ghost of Karelia." And after dozens of listens I'm still trying to comprehend the two 10+ minute epics "The Czar" and "The Last Baron" and I know that these tracks will unveil new musical surprises for months and even years to come. And that's what makes this not just Mastodon's best album yet but also one of the best metal albums in recent memory. It will surely reward repeated listens. Mastodon's huge sounds and huge thoughts have come together in terrifying ways. [~doomsdayer520~]
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