This album rules. I love Mastodon, and this is, in my opinion, their best album. From an musicianship standpoint, it's flawless. In the version I got, a "making of" DVD was included, and all the band members emphasized that they basically caged themselves up in the studio for hours and hours on end every day. They really held their own feet to the fire because they wanted to "be tough on themselves" and see how technical an album they were capable of creating. I just can't say enough about the result.
To give some context, "Crack the Skye" is very different from "Leviathan." "Leviathan" was not a true death metal album, but it definitely showed death metal influences. "Skye" is dark, weird, and moody, but it abandons death metal for prog. The songs are less "gritty" and the grooves aren't as heavy. The lyrics are not mainly screamed, and the song structures are... all over the place (the average song is in the 6-7 minute range). The guitars are recorded in layers and layers. The songs are gorgeous from beginning to end. If someone held a gun to my head and made me pick a favorite track, I'd probably pick the opener, "Oblivion," which is amazingly catchy for a progressive tune.
A word of friendly advice: Make your first couple of listens on a pair of high quality head phones. There's just so much going on to listen to.
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