I first became aware of Mastodon when I saw the artwork on Remission their first release. I have been a fan ever since, enjoying each release more and more. I was asked to review Crack The Skye by my friend Josh Reece, so here goes!
Crack The Skye is the fourth studio release by Mastodon. It was released on March 24, 2009. According to the band this album represents the element of aether, which is represented by the souls and spirits of all things, a theme closely related to the context of the album. Because the elements of fire, water and earth have already represented by the band’s first three albums Remission, Leviathan and Blood Mountain, respectively, the element of air is the only classical element which has yet to be represented by a Mastodon album.
4. “The Czar”
5. “Ghost of Karelia”
6. “Crack the Skye” (featuring Scott Kelly)
7. “The Last Baron”
“Oblivion” opens the CD an ominous sounding guitar intro and progresses into a fast paced yet groove laden track that is easy to listen to and truly enjoyable. “Divinations” starts rather eerily to me and kind of makes me feel on edge. This edgy feeling stays with me through the song. While not unenjoyable it kind of reminds me of when the Joker appears on screen in the Dark Knight film. “Quintessence” is easily my favorite track on this record. I enjoy the progression of this track and the vocal track which is not quite in your face. This song kind of lulls me into a kind of altered state, which is the sign of a great song in my opinion. “The Czar” in its entirety (all five parts) is reminiscent of one of the many epic Rush songs that I so love. I can listen to this in its entirety time and time again. “Ghost Of Karelia” has a kind of whirling effect that is greatly enhanced by listening to it with good pair of headphones. “Crack The Sky” features Scott Kelly from the band Neurosis on vocals. I enjoy this track as it is a bit harder and gets your blood pumping. A good track to put in your CD player in your vehicle, roll down the windows, and hit the gas. “The Last Baron” a 13 minute opus closes this masterpiece of a CD with an all out audio assault. I was reading about the themes of this CD and came across where Brann Dailor said, “There is a paraplegic and the only way that he can go anywhere is if he astral travels. He goes out of his body, into outer space and a bit like Icarus, he goes too close to the sun, burning off the golden umbilical cord that is attached to his solar plexus. So he is in outer space and he is lost, he gets sucked into a wormhole, he ends up in the spirit realm and he talks to spirits telling them that he is not really dead. So they send him to the Russian cult, they use him in a divination and they find out his problem. They decide they are going to help him. They put his soul inside Rasputin’s body. Rasputin goes to usurp the czar and he is murdered. The two souls fly out of Rasputin’s body through the crack in the sky(e) and Rasputin is the wise man that is trying to lead the child home to his body because his parents have discovered him by now and think that he is dead. Rasputin needs to get him back into his body before it’s too late. But they end up running into the Devil along the way and the Devil tries to steal their souls and bring them down…there are some obstacles along the way.” He also said, “My sister passed away when I was a teenager and it was awful, and there’s no better way to pay tribute to a lost loved one than having an opportunity to be in a group with my friends and we make art together. Her name was Skye, so Crack the Skye means a lot of different things. For me personally, it means the moment of being told you lost someone dear to you, [that moment] is enough to crack the sky.” A deep and meaningful CD for sure. Like I said put on a good pair of headphones, or crank it up in your vehicle and be transported to a different plane of existence.
Thanks again to Josh Reece for reminding me that this excellent record was in my collection. I have been enjoying it as of recent.
Here’s a link to one of my favorite tracks:
Another well written review. I enjoy reading your interpetation of music. The likening to Rush is one I had to not heard or thought of before, but spot on. And yes, the uneasy feeling, that tense on edge notion, the swriling are all there and signs of excellent musicians who can translate the feelings in the music they are creating.
I’ve seen them live twice, both when the played “Crack the Skye” in it’s entirety. And I will say they are amazing live. Almost CD quality. Another sign of great musicians.
I thank you for the review, as always, I enjoyed reading it and look forward to the next one.
Thank you my friend, your words are well met as always.
Nicely done Brother! I too am now revisiting my old albums. Forgot how raw the guitar was…