The fourth album, Crack The Skye, from heavy metal rockers Mastodon takes you on an epic journey through space and time. The subject matter of their lyrics has always involved a mix of science fiction and myth. The layered and textured guitar chords create a fittingly grandiose soundscape to add emphasis and drama to their storylines.
Here they continue along that same vein, building the story that is told through a series of seven songs. For some it may come off a bit hokey but many others will be drawn into this fantasy world. The saga involves a paraplegic who embarks on an outer body experience where he travels to space, loses the connection to his body and enters a time warp where he finds himself contending with Rasputin and his fiendish cult.
Brett Hind and Tory Sanders share vocal responsibilities — each tells part of the story in their distinct but complimentary voices. Hind is more melodic while Sanders adds harsher vocals such as low staccato growls and other guttural vocalizations. Dexterous guitars and quick pounding drums collude in a symphonic heavy metal arrangement. Brann Dailor’s drumming is a real standout on the album with his intricate percussive work built on cascading drumbeats and double bass.
There are varied compositions in each song, which marks the highs and lows in the story. This is very much heavy metal theatre — it’s been said that Mastodon plans on injecting their live sets with an actor supported stage show. Think rock opera: Drama and music have always been good bedfellows so it’s not much of a stretch to see this extended to heavy metal music.
Review by Shaun Flagg