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Well this is NOT what I expected... - 96%

DarkSideOfLucca, May 3rd, 2009

What is this? No sludgy harsh vocals to be found? More progression? Extreme consistency? I tip my hat to Mastodon for once again for being the only band that I can expect absolute perfection and originality from that didn't form in the 60's, 70's, 80's, or early 90's. In a time where metal is dominated by shit core and/or bands showing off 'technical skill' without any real interesting ideas at all, Mastodon prevails. From the jaw-dropping cover artwork of Crack the Skye to Dallor's mind-blowing lyrics and drumming skills, this album will leave any human being with a soul moved by the pure emotion and beauty (as well as intensity) that the band has unleashed on us with their most recent release.

Crack the Sky flows so well without being one song it is almost unbelievable. Don't get me wrong, every track has it's own feel; like the brutal darkness of "Crack the Skye," the majestic feel of "Quintessence," and the sheer epic mastery of "The Last Baron." What I mean is, absolutely no song feels out of place on the album, and each track flows perfectly into the next. It seems that this band is evolving much more into a classic/progressive metal band than a groove/sludge metal band. The song structures are much more complex (especially on The Czar), their music is a lot less in your face and more interested in rewarding you with patience, guitar solos/keyboarding is much more present, and there is an obvious change in vocal styles.

Speaking of their change in vocal styles, diehard fans of Leviathan and Remission who were disappointed with Blood Mountain toning down the brutality will most likely despise this album. There are almost no harsh vocals to be found, and it is instead replaced with a style not unlike a combination of Ozzy Osbourne and Peter Gabriel. Sound strange? Well, truth be told it threw me off at first, as well. But they don't take long to get used to and once you let this new style sink in, it is addicting to listen to.

As mentioned before, it is frightening how amazing Dallor is at drumming. Just compare his drumming in Blood Mountain to this. He has perfected two completely different styles within the time span of three years in between these releases. It would just be unjust to not recognize Dallor as one of the best new drummers in metal today. Comparing Leviathan to Crack the Sky, I was also very impressed with the spectacular improvement of Hinds and Kellihers guitar work, which is especially apparent in the middle section of "The Last Baron," my personal favorite song. That is another thing: every song on this album seems to get better. "Oblivion" is the worst and "The Last Baron" is the best. And "Oblivion" is a fucking awesome song! It just keeps your intrigue because you know that the next song is going to be even better than the last. How many albums can you say that about?

If you don't like musical originality or talent in your metal and just want brutality, than I don't suggest this album. If you do enjoy musical originality and talent in your metal, then need I say more? This is fucking Mastodon and they refuse to let you down! Now do yourself a favor and get a copy of Crack the Skye as soon as possible.

Highlights: Everything is great, but "The Last Baron" and "The Czar"