Come to think of it, Leviathan almost seems a weak, primitive album compared to its successors, and after listening to Crack the Skye I suddenly realize that there is not much of a chance that I am gonna be putting on Leviathan anytime soon. I won’t say that Crack the Skye is an improvement over Blood Mountain. Rather than a dramatic change in quality, there has been a shift in the musical direction. From crunchy 5 minute melodic Southern Rock/Sludge stompers with light interludes to boot, we have gone to dense, multi-layered progressive metal epics. The production of this record is quite impressive. There are just so many layers to the whole thing that it is some time before you notice everything that is going on. Mastodon on Crack the Skye sound truly the 21st century successors of Black Sabbath, and not only because the vocals throughout the album bear much more than a passing resemblance to Ozzy Osbourne’s famous “helium, sing along with the lead guitar vocals.” If Sabbath were to do Sabotage today it would end up sounding like Crack the Skye, but just maybe not as good. They also demonstrate that as long as your riffs are fresh and cracking, and the focus is on songwriting rather than trying to fit into a particular genre, then there is no need to abandon the traditional verse-chorus structure (All the nerdy prog metal bands take note, and Pain of Salvation, Opeth and Between the Buried and Me, I am looking at you.) a stark example being the fantastic opener, Oblivion, which packs a punch in the 6 minutes range. Yes, they do the old soft-hard alternation technique as well, but it does not sound contrived at all. The patterns are quite easy to follow on this one.
So with this release, Mastodon, out do themselves and reduce albums like Remission and Leviathan into dust and grime and render the same irrelevant. Stellar, stellar. This is exactly what I demand from my metal. Epics with funky parts and serious keyboardy moments galore. Yay!!
Recommended Songs – Oblivion, The Czar, The Last Baron.