Mastodon - Crack the Skye (2009) (1 Viewer)

mark

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By a mile the best Mastodon record. I always credit Brenden O'Brien for bucking the trend and not mixing the drums obnoxiously loud like most other modern metal albums. The songwriting and playing are at a level they haven't approached since.

 
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mark

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I've seen these live a few times but never warmed to them. Maybe this album will change me
Like Dudley I've seen them a bunch of times, they're always been poor, and it's always been related to the FoH mix. They're great players, but i reckon one of their mates does their sound.
 

dudley

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The *one* time they were great was at ATP when they were a three piece, and the Melvins joined in for a tune or two. The whole set was astonishing.

Then again, I was buckled with the whiskey at the time
 

Lili Marlene

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So what's the deal here? What makes it different to, say, one of the more riff-heavy Smashing Pumpkins songs? What am I listening out for?

edit: hmm, there's a lot of different vocal styles on here isn't there?
 
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hydromancer

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My brother likes these so I know a few of there albums including this's one. They are definitely a bit experimental with lots of things thrown in here that you don't normally hear for a group ascosiated with metal. They avoid allot of cliches but then seem to really indulge in a few like playing very fast and haveing a rediculous over the top concept album. Anyway I like this album lots of energy on it favourite track is the last baron.
 

travispickle

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My metal loving best mate thinks this is a masterpiece so I suppose I'll have to listen to the bastardin' thing now.
That opening guitar riff is reminiscent of REM's Feeling Gravity's Pull.
 

rettucs

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I knew nothing of Mastodon before this thread. The only time I'd even heard the name was at a @japeo gig several years back where he was telling a story about being at one of their gigs in the Ambassador and how, coming out of the gig afterwards, the moon was a bit mad. And he ended up writing Phil Lynott (I can't fully recall the link between Mastodon, the moon and Phil Lynott - there was one though).

Being honest, I hated this on first listen. That was the only time I listened on speakers. It did nothing for me and I found it annoying.

Listening on headphones is a whole other experience. The first time I listened on headphones I found it quite enjoyable. But none of the songs really gained traction, really. The first one that did was 'The Czar'. Having scanned the wikipedia page for this album I was dreading listening to it, coming in at over 10 minutes and all. But its a right little catchy number.

Around listens 3 and 4 (I reckon I'm up to around 10 listens at this stage) my thoughts were this (bearing in mind I know NOTHING about Mastodon - about who is in the band, whether they like each other or not, etc).

They had these songs. 10 in total. Really good songs. Written, mostly by 2 lads in the band (source: wikipedia). The 2 lads called a band meeting. The other lads in the band attended, were shown/played rough copies of the songs. They liked them, but were a bit put out that they didn't get to contribute to the writing. So they decided they'd put their stamp on them, somehow.

So, song 4 was too fuckin long, so lets split it into 4 parts. 2 different guitar riffs were suggested for a couple of the songs by different lads. They couldn't agree which one to go with so just play them fucking both. EVERY song needs more drums. LOADS more drums. And that lads in the band who can't sing to save his life, he's gonna sing on a couple of songs if it fuckin kills him.

Basically, heres some deadly songs, lets do everything we can to ruin them. It seemed to me (keep in mind I'm largely igorant of this genre) that there was way too much going on in the songs. The comments about the songs not working live made a lot of sense, in this context. It'd be impossible to reproduce whats going on here in a live setting. And attempting stripped back arrangements would mean the songs losing too much of, what I'd imagine, is their appeal in the first place.

Anyway, by listen 5 I wanted to go and listen to Tool. I'm not very familiar with Tool but I loved their 10000 days album. And this made me want to go and listen to that. I haven't listened to it yet (not on spotify), and haven't listened to it in years. But this reminds me of what I remember that being like.

I think I started to get what was going on over the next few listens. The simultaneous guitar riffs, the full-on drumming, stopped sounding confused, and started sounding good.

The one thing I'm still struggling with is the vocal in parts. The lead vocal on The Czar is awful. Whoever told that lad he can sing wasn't really doing the world a favour. I find that a bit frustrating. One the one hand I want to listen to the song because its great. On the other, I can't stand your man's voice. What to do?

The other singer (the lad with the coarser voice), I do really like. And its the stuff that he sings on that remind me of Tool.

And I can even tolerate the first lad's singing when the second lad is trying something approximating a harmony. That sounds really good in places.

I don't feel qualified enough at this stage to give track-by-track reviews. I just like it overall. Its good sunny-day listening. And while I don't feel any compulsion to check out anything else by them, I'll be listening to this again. But it'll probably be on headphones. And it will always be LOUD.

I'll rate it 3/5.
 

Lili Marlene

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Now don't get me wrong, I like a good riff as much as the next guy, but the genre here is metal-metal isn't it? For lads who hate when metal bands try to branch into anything different. You know the kind, "Faith No More were grand when Big Jim was there but shite afterwards because metal" kinda people.

Here we have a band who have taken all the most metal bits from other bands, removed anything that looked like it had ideas above its metal station, mixed the molten mush together and ended up with the most ridiculous metal alloy of a music they possibly could. The sheer stubbornness to resist experimenting outside of the confines of the tiny metal box... it’s so fucking regressive it's almost a revelation.

The songs sound fine to me, one didn't seem better or worse than the other but it all just washed over me. After 3 full listens I can say I’ve started to recognise some of the songs and riffs but it all feels very, very, VERY, safe to me. There's no embarrassing moments, which is almost a failure in my books, and nothing on it ever surprised me. The intro to Divinations sounds like it's about to try something new but that idea is quickly shut down, which is a pity.

I like how they have different vocalists in there, each with a slightly different metal vocal style. I'm disappointed they don't have a black metal vocalist, and maybe the occasional Axl Rose style wailer, just to get the full deck, but I suppose you can't have it all.

I give it 2 and a half out of 5 because it's played and produced well and I don't actually think it's bad. And at least it's not math-rock.

If someone wants to tell me why I’m absolutely wrong please do.
 

diauhdiad?

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It sounds fairly prog to me which suggests that your concept of metal-metal doesn't really apply but I'm totally out of my depth with the metal genes.

My initial thoughts (two listens so far) are these:
I really like it musically, particularly the guitars and guitar solos which are great
The drummer is highly proficient but I'd is lacking fire
The singing Is dreadful and I won't listen again after this week because of it. Somebody mentioned Soundgarden and I hear that. I hate that over cooked intense shit, and the harmonies are unpleasant.
 

nooleen

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it sounded like metal-by-numbers to me until about the fourth listen when it started to sound great. reminds me of neurosis at times which can only be a good thing.

the vocals are offputting in places particularly when they go a bit soundgarden (chorus of 'oblivion') or devin townsend solo career (quintessence)
 

dudley

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See, all you naysayers, you're wrong and I want my ball back.

I'm very much a metal dilletante, I approach it much in the same way as I do football. I hear my friends talk about bizarre teams from the arse of Brazil with considered knowledge and opinion, and it leaves me flustered and cold, how do people find this rubbish interesting. Expect I like the big league events in football, your Spain vs Germany in the World Cup. That's great.

Same with metal, except my analogy means I would like the big hitters like Metallica and Scorpions. So that previous paragraph is a fail, but I'm not fucking deleting it.

What it is though, is that in amongst the godawful dirge of 98% of metal (Tool lovers can go to hell) you get diamonds like Elder, Meshuggah and Mastodon. To my ears these are bands trying to exist beyond the tropes of modern metal, or when they do stay within the lines they're intent on some serious remodelling. Turn on Scuzz or something, and almost all the bands from teenybop metal doofuses to black metal sourpusses are identikit in their genres.

The metal bands I love don't have comparable acts, certainly not in that genre anyway. When I listen to Meshuggah I hear Beefheart, Converge remind me of Fugazi and Mastodon take cues from King Crimson and Drive Like Jehu. All groups that were trying to forge something new, and abandon the cliches of their peers.

Now, I think of late Mastodon have fallen foul of their own rules in recent times, and in Corpo parlance, have ruined their own band. A little. But Crack The Skye is a surefire masterpiece. Thematically it's devastating, based on the death by drowning of the drummers little sister (here's another example of genre pushing, most metal is content to dwell on obvious dark matter like genocide, or fairies and orks, rarely does it look inward). Musically, it's thrilling, these are bold, big songs that aren't afraid to leave listeners behind to get to where they need to go. The playing is spectacular, I think, but most importantly the intent is peerless. This is the last record they needed to make (though I'm always hopeful for a radical uprising with each new Mastodon LP) and I adore it.

You'll get used to the fucking singing.
 

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