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Okay, so this makes more sense then the A7X/Mastodon split, but it still doesn’t feel right. Perhaps if this had been done during the “Crack The Skye”/”Diamond Eyes” era it would have made more sense as both of those records are moody, introverted, and deal with losing those close to you. But instead we have a weak song from a less than solid Deftones album, and one of the best songs off of Mastodon’s last truly balls to the wall metal album. Things don’t really add up.
Deftones have never been that great at up-tempo numbers like “Rapture”. They’ve always worked best when they focus on atmosphere and mood than aggression. Chino Moreno has never been that great of a singer, but he’s even worse when he’s forced to scream instead of croon as he is on this song. The song doesn’t have any real riffs to speak of, just some minor chord progressions and an off kilter groove that makes liberal use of weird accents in order to try and engage the listener. These two sections are repeated haphazardly with no discernable structure. The parts themselves harder stand up on their own, so being mashed together this way doesn’t do them much good. The only interesting part of the song comes at the end when the 70’s synthesizer floats over the otherwise bland chords. This doesn’t save the song from being one of the Deftones worst.
“Crystal Skull” on the other hand is one of Mastodon’s best. In it’s short run time it glides seamlessly through five equally compelling sections. The song opens in classic Mastodon style using a driving riff and complex drumming to push the listener onward towards the dynamic bridge section. Here the band jumps from near silence to soaring guitar harmonies and back again before letting it rip with towering power chords. Finally any song that goes from rumbling Neurosis influenced tom grooves (with Scott Kelly himself on vocals no less!) to a classic rock style guitar solo instantly gets points in my book. “Crystal Skull” represents all the ways in which Mastodon were at the top of their game. It’s heavy and complex, but easily digestible and instantly memorable. It features tons of parts; each building on the next and no element ever feels out of place from the others.
In other words, Mastodon succeeds here in every way that Deftones fail. As a result this is a very lopsided split and you’re probably better off just picking up “Blood Mountain”. If you want to see what Deftones are actually good at, listen to either “Diamond Eyes” or “White Pony”.