Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Crack the Skye-Mastodon

I have a beef with “nu-metal”. For me metal was always big, scary and complex. Songs shouldn’t be less than 5 minutes, the bass and drums ought to evoke Satan hammering on your door and the lyrics should soar effortlessly above the rest, only met on occasion by screeching solos every 3 minutes. And under no circumstance must anyone even attempt to be “gangsta”.  In short I’m a devout follower of the Sabbath and Metallica models.
The problem with this is it can get boring, you cover the same ground. For this reason I forgive the music industry for its two decades of catchy chorus and grown men in dress up. Mastodon blew this situation away however on Crack the Skye. Variety is on full show here; “Oblivion” starts with a haunting, spacey synth intro. “Divinations” kicks off with rumbling banjo. Single tracks morph and change direction frequently.
The real impressive feat though is how good everyone is. The vocals are spot on, constant melodies; I still don’t know who exactly was on lead for this album. The two guitars fuzz and dance, the bass skips here and there, on the aforementioned “Divinations” all instruments gun it for a mad crescendo, which impossible holds together. Prog comes to mind very much, I’d compare their sound to recent Metallica with Sabbath. This isn’t thrash, Crack the Skye is much more focused on atmosphere and depth than moshing.
The themes have been updated too. Fantasy and the occult has been a metal staple since Zeppelin, todays it’s space and time travel. There is some kind of concept of a time travelling astronaut warning an occult of the Russian revolution or something, but all you really need to know is this is a trip album.
I’d recommend this to even non-metal fans, it’s an excellent example of the genre very much misunderstood by the mainstream. This and the Black Album should atleast be able to convert non-believers to appreciators. 

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