First things first: just by looking at a picture of gnarly Mastodon front-man Brent Hinds, you may not want to stare too hard as he may reach out of the image and strangle you to death. But upon listening to his band’s fourth full length effort Crack The Skye, you can’t help but go the way of Master of Puppets- this is heavy shit with melody and texture. Heck, maybe Brent Hinds has a soft side beneath beneath his reddish growl.
As Mastodon have moved away from the metal side to a psychedelic prog vision, their sound screams of solid production courtesy of Brendan O’Brien and haunting lyrics of space travel and czarist Russia, that serve as a cover for more evocative thoughts by lyricist/drummer Brann Dailor.
Crack the Skye is built around the ten minute “Czar,” constructed into four parts, and serves as a modern prog-rock highlight, although it often feels like twelve songs in one. The music is industriously tight as Mastodon sounds like one single entity rather than four musicians looking to cure their egos with depthless solos. From the haunting “Ghost of Karelia” to the vengeful final anthem “The Last Baron,” Crack The Skye buckles and bruises throughout. The storyline may be a tad overwhelming but this isn’t your Lamb of God brutality, Mastodon has something to say folks.