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Look guys, this album is extremely love/hate for each person that gives it a listen. You're going to listen to it the first time and one of two things will happen. Either you will experience a weird, psychedelic, euphoric music-gasm like most of the reviewers on here apparently had. Or, you'll be like me, and say "what the hell?! This isn't Mastodon. At least not even close to the way I remember them."
Understand this: I'm just a casual metalhead who listens to shit on pandora, downloads the whole album that a particular good song is on, listen to the rest of the songs on it once or twice, and if I don't love a certain song, I delete it without hesitation before transferring everything to my MP3 player. Music is awesome but I don't obsess over deep lyrical meanings and tiny nuances in supposedly legendary riffs that require an esoteric sense of music comprehension to fully appreciate. Perhaps this makes me somewhat of a "common" man, if you will, but so be it.
That said, if you are the kind of person that derives extreme pleasure from listening to cryptic, mystical music pieces, you're going to love this album. It's got plenty of rich, floaty psychedelic riffage and shit to launch your brain into the throes of ecstasy with every listen. Honestly, even I slightly enjoy a few choice parts from the album, maybe a section or two from songs like The Czar, Crack the Skye, and Divinations.
BUT. IF you are like me at all. You're going to be like WTF man. IMO, Remission was great, a delicious, raw new prog metal album. Leviathan was even better, with more unique riffs and overall generally better. Blood Mountain was a step down, but still pretty darn good because it's Mastodon dude!! And then Crack The Skye came along, and messed up the whole thing. Yeah some people are going to be like "whoa, the change is great man, they're experimenting and it totally worked, it's so cool to see their music 'evolving'" but this is a very drastic change, and you know what? I liked Mastodon just the way they were when Brann was blasting out ridiculous, unpredictable jazz drumming and Brent was shredding out beautiful, heavy riffs on such songs as Capillarian Crest and Bladecatcher. I miss that. Where is it on this album? Nowhere. Just spacey, soft, slow, pussified music that I would probably rather use as a lullaby than something I'd actually take time out of my day to listen to for pleasure.
As unforgiving as Empyreal's review may be, I have to say that he pretty much hit the nail on the head. And he has a right to be pissed off. What the hell happened to the awesome Mastodon we used to know? I sincerely hope they just don't get big heads from all the positive reviews they're getting, and play all the songs from this stupid album at a future concert that I might potentially go to, performing only a few songs from their GOOD albums.
Like I said boys and girls, you're going to absolutely love it or absolutely hate it. Give it a listen on grooveshark and see which side you take before you buy it.