Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Best Albums of 2009: 3. Mastodon's "Crack The Skye"

3. Mastodon “Crack The Skye”

The key to Mastodon’s continued success has got to be their willingness to change. They have yet to repeat themselves once, moving from concept to concept, and taking great care to ensure that the concept is fully realized lyrically, visually and (most crucially) musically. Whereas 2002’s “Remission” saw the band evoke the general theme of fire, 2004’s classic “Leviathan” dealt with the theme of water (and specifically Moby Dick) and 2006’s “Blood Mountain” centered on earth as its general theme. Surprise, surprise…this time around they’ve chosen the sky. So what winds up being most impressive about 2009’s “Crack The Skye” is how they’ve tailored the sound of their most recent epic to reflect this idea; and it works astoundingly.

The band injects far more melody into this project than previous ones, allowing for standouts like “Quintessence” and “Oblivion” to anchor themselves with clean singing, unpredictable, jazz-influenced percussion and incredibly intricate, whirlwind guitar work, rather than the typical howling, pounding and pummeling, sledgehammer riffs. The songs also feel longer and more freewheeling than their previous work, taking multiple, unexpected twists and turns throughout, and at times actually are longer than their previous work, with the album’s epic, “The Czar,” clocking in at a filler-less 9 minutes and 47 seconds. It all lends itself to the infinite expanse of the sky above us, and it consistently feels as exhilarating as hurtling through space or floating amidst the clouds.

Mastodon can truly do no wrong.

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